Playing Percussion with Love and 10” stilettos
That was a friend’s comment when my sister told her she was taking me to see Sheila E for my birthday. I laughed. I could just see Amy’s face and hear her tonal inflection; her “shut up” being the exaggerated equivalent of saying “no way” or “you’re kidding!”.
Why was she so surprised? Well, you have to be at least mid 40’s (or be educated by your parents) to know and love Sheila E the way Amy (and the rest of us) do, to fully appreciate the adoration!
I first saw her in concert in the 80’s when she was the opener for Prince’s Purple Rain tour. As amazing as Prince was that night, I left remembering Sheila E. She is still as beautiful and seems to be even more talented!
After the concert this past week end, she has become my new girl crush. Not just because she is a freaking phenomenal musician but rather because in a world of division and racism (on all sides) her entire message was one of peace and love. A message she delivers with integrity, intelligence, compassion and great respect for our country. As a matter of fact, she enters the stage via the main floor of the auditorium, walking through the crowd in 10” white stilettos (ok, maybe not 10”, but taller than I could walk in), playing a funky version of the “Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America” on her guitar.
She then works her way through almost 2 hours of music without taking a break, although she does change her shoes to white sneakers and eventually to bare feet, allowing her to slide across stage in dance moves that would have Prince or Michael in awe.
She connects with the audience in an intimate way difficult to manage in a concert, walking through the crowd without a bodyguard, inviting spectators on stage and at one point having the house lights turned on to ask us to greet, hug and share love with perfect strangers sitting around us. She infects those of us watching her with what she calls the energy of love.
Using music, laughter and showmanship to call out the best in each of us, she “preaches” to us with guitar strings or with wooden sticks. She appeals to us in a way that allows us to drop our defenses, our pretenses and our judgments. And she makes it damned fun at the same time. It is magic.
I shy away from making political comments in one direction or another because no matter whose side you take, or what you believe, the messages, from my perspective anyway, always seem denigrating to anyone with an opposite viewpoint. Even the most professed “accepting” of us, can’t seem to share what we feel or believe without some small slight about how the world is going to hell if the other side has their way. Rarely have I read or experienced anything that was as truly inviting of everyone, their history, their beliefs, their passions, their mistakes or their hearts, as what I witnessed Friday night. We were not the same people walking out. Instead of keeping to ourselves, jockeying to be one of the first out, we were conversing with one another like neighbors, friends; not like we met 2 hours earlier.
That is the message I want to convey to the world, one of hope and encouragement. All of us matter. And each of us is responsible for the condition, not only of our lives, but also for the world we live in. If we abdicate our jobs to make a difference, we receive what we deserve, no more, no less.
Division and differences are the nature of humanity, I believe. The differences are what make us unique. And the divide has the potential to make us grow, it does not have to be violent, malicious, bitter or deadly.
It is easy to complain and criticize, to claim our view is the superior one. It requires much more of us to work alongside another, knowing they disrespect us, judge us, or even hate us, without returning those sentiments.
Sheila E managed to disarm us by passionately and fervently beating on SOMETHING, not SOMEONE. To quote my sister after the show, “that woman can beat things with sticks like nobody’s business”.
This week’s writing assignment? Write a short story using these words:
Can’t wait to read it!! Send it here!