Guided by the forces of family, faith, and music, Sheila E. has made a name for herself as one of the most talented musical icons over the decades. With a fearless nature and a passion for sharing her gifts with others, Sheila truly follows the beat of her own drum. She touches the lives of so many, with her dynamic music career at the heart of everything. Sheila’s eagerness to share her music, openness as an author, and fire for her ministry make her such a relatable, inspirational figure for people of all ages.
Born into a musical family, Sheila Escovedo (Sheila E.) has been driven by an inner rhythm her entire life. As a young girl, she was immersed in the diverse music scenes of the Bay Area—influenced and inspired by her percussionist father Pete Escovedo; musical uncles Coke Escovedo, Alejandro Escovedo, Mario Escovedo, and Javier Escovedo; and godfather Tito Puente. Growing up in the Escovedo household, musical instruments were for everyone. “Nobody cared as long as you could keep time (or have a good time),” she writes in her memoir, The Beat Of My Own Drum.
At the age of 5, Sheila gave her first public performance for an audience of 3,000, appearing alongside her dad. It was while on that stage playing a drum solo that Sheila first realized she was going to be a percussionist. Five decades later, and the beat that has always driven her is showing no signs of slowing down. The famous drummer, singer, songwriter, author, humanitarian, and icon is following the beat of her own drum. She considers music to be the purest form of self-expression and the one true love of her life.
In a business where trends and artists come and go, Najee’s name is synonymous with innovation, consistency and the best in contemporary jazz. The visionary has enjoyed an enviable three-decade career by staying true to his own artistic vision. “Throughout my career, I have enjoyed working with diverse musicians in so many different musical contexts,” confides the two-time Platinum-selling and four-time Gold-selling multi-instrumentalist. “All of these experiences live inside you and they come out in your music. Honestly, if I were not able to mix it up, I would be bored.” Mentored by iconic saxmen Jimmy Heath and Frank Foster and flutist Harold Jones, the New England Conservatory of Music alum has worked with a who’s who list in music that includes Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock. Najee’s anticipated 18th new recording, Center Of The Heart, (Shanachie, November 15, 2019) showcases his technical agility, grace, compositional prowess, unbridled passion and fearless genre bending on ten thrilling tracks. Deftly wielding the soprano, flute, tenor and alto, Najee steers the ten-track excursion, showcasing moving originals, a hauntingly beautiful orchestration of a Bacharach/David classic, a sizzling reinvention of a Maxwell hit and unforgettable collaborations with singer Kenny Lattimore, pianist Greg Manning (Brian McKnight, Deniece Williams, Dave Koz, Jonathan Butler), saxophonist Darren Rahn (Wayman Tisdale, Toby Keith, Dave Koz, Jeff Lorber), and keyboardist/producer Demonte Posey (Eric Benet, Babyface, Toni Braxton).
Toronto-based Four80East is actually a studio side-project for Rob DeBoer (piano, guitar, bass, programming) and Tony Grace (drums, programming), who, along with Grace’s brother Paul, run Boomtang Records. Four80East developed over several years, between Grace and DeBoer’s remix schedule (for the likes of Econoline Crush, Amanda Marshall, Corey Hart, Wild Strawberries, Philosopher Kings, and Ashley MacIsaac) and their other project, the pop band the Boomtang Boys. Four80East started as an outlet of pure fun to play a sort of loose, improvisational dance music inspired by groove music out of the U.K. The other half of the band is Jack Trentman on guitar and trumpet, and Jon Stewart on tenor saxophone. The band’s first album, titled appropriately enough The Album, came out in 1997 on Boomtang. It earned considerable airplay in both the U.S. and England. Nocturnal followed in early 2001, marking their first effort for Higher Octave. A year later, Round 3 followed up on their self-proclaimed “trip-jazz” sound. The group’s fourth studio-effort, 2007’s En Route also featured a sophisticated, acid-jazz vibe. However, 2009’s Roll On, found the group digging into a retro funk and ’70s soul influenced sound. In 2012, they returned with the soulful, lightly experimental Off Duty. The concert album, Four80East Live, appeared in 2014. In 2015, Four80East released their seventh studio-album, Positraction, which included the single, “Cookie Strut.”
With multiple Billboard-charting singles and three highly acclaimed CDs over the past twenty-five years, New York guitarist JJ Sansaverino has reached millions touring the world with his “Benson meets Santana” musical style. An extraordinary performer, JJ has a “take no prisoners” performance attitude, gracing the stage night after night touring on his own or with reggae legend Maxi Priest and bringing his vibe of Smooth Jazz, R&B, and Reggae. A Berklee School of Music graduate and award winner, he has shared the stage with the likes of Maceo Parker, Victor Bailey, Gerald Albright, Randy Brecker, Shaggy, Ricky Lawson, Sean Paul, Rick Braun, the Marley Family, and even performed for Sir Paul McCartney’s wedding in 2002. He is currently on a summer world tour with Maxi Priest and is preparing for his upcoming “International Groove CD Release Tour 2018”