Drummer/singer Sheila E. is planning a benefit concert in Los Angeles featuring the alumni of Prince's many backing bands. Actress Carmen Electra, discovered and named by Prince in 1991, will host.
"It's going to be all the Prince band members from all the bands, together, for one night only," says Sheila, who goes back twenty years with Prince. "It's never been done before."
All proceeds from the concert -- to be held at either the Los Angeles Forum or the Universal Amphitheater on December 13th or 15th ("we have the time on hold right now," Sheila says) -- will go towards the creation of the Compassion Care Center in Los Angeles, a safe haven for abused or abandoned children that provides education, counseling and mentoring.
The members of the Revolution who've already signed on include guitarist Wendy Melvoin, keyboardist Lisa Coleman, keyboardist Matt Fink and drummer Bobby Z. "It's fabulous because they haven't played together as a band in twenty years," Sheila says. Onboard from the Family ("the band that Prince had that never really toured") are saxophonist Eric Leeds, singer Susannah Melvoin (Wendy's twin), percussionist Jerome Benton and singer/keyboardist Paul Peterson.
The one member who has not yet been invited is Prince himself. "There's no pressure on him, but we'd like for him to come," Shiela says. "He's why we're doing this, because he started all of it."
Prince first recruited Sheila to sing on "Erotic City," the flip side to his Number One 1984 single "Let's Go Crazy." He also helped her land a solo deal with Warner Bros. and penned the title track to her debut album, Glamorous Life, a Top Ten single.
After two more solo albums, (Sheila E. in Romance 1600 and Sheila E.) she rejoined Prince's band for 1987's Sign O' the Times tour.
The building of the Compassion Care Center is just one of many projects of Sheila and business partner Lynn Mabry's Lil' Angel Bunny Foundation (LABF). Sheila herself was sexually abused by a babysitter, as was Mabry by a family friend.
"We're going to use music as a therapy for the children," Sheila explains.
Sheila also has her own line of drum kits for children, the Sheila E. Player's Series, and she has donated instruments to foster homes. "A lot the kids have been abused so severely they have not been able to speak," she says, "and since they've had the drums, they're talking."
Sheila E. is touring as a member of Ringo Starr's All Starr Band through September 7th.