She appeared before her performance with former bodyguard turned Prince’s manager Gilbert Davidson, and the two talked about working and making music with Prince. Sheila, an Oakland native, talked about how her career began following in the path of her musical family and how her friendly, but intense competition with Prince on everything from pool to fashion to basketball and music, pushed them both to greater achievements.
She recounted how Prince once took her to a field in suburban Chanhassen, where the footprint of what would become Paisley Park had been staked out. She said the two of them, both dressed impeccably in heels, walked around the property while he pointed out where the studios, stage and even the kitchen would be.
But it was Sheila’s domination of the stage that truly paid homage to Prince’s musical legacy. Accompanied by a crack 9 piece band that included another longtime Prince collaborator, the incomparable vocalist Lynn Mabry, the band ran through Prince hits like “Sign of the Times,” “Housequake” and “America” as well as Sheila’s most popular duets with Prince – “Erotic City” “Love Bizarre” and her solo hit, “The Glamorous Life.”
Sheila’s guitar player, Mychael Davison, if he could act, could be the best person to play Prince in a biopic as he has the chops and the looks, but is likely just too tall. Sheila no longer does the heavy lifting behind the drum kit, but is an outstanding bandleader and still one of the baddest bitches alive on the solos.
Sheila brought the audience to tears when she choked up after accompanying Davison on an excerpt of the final guitar solo on “Purple Rain,” saying, “I thought I could keep it together playing this song in this place,” while visibly tearing up.
She then took the crowd to church on the same soundstage she and Prince rocked many a night, exhorting people to turn to each other and say “I love you,” and then give each other a hug. A tearful audience complied. Sheila looked out at the assembled, multi-racial crowd with fans from all over the globe and said “This is what that world looks like,” a diversity reflected in the fanbase when Prince was alive.
Today’s panels included “Iconography,” featuring some of Prince’s photographers including Allen Beaulieu who shot Prince’s Dirty Mind and Controversy covers, as well the inside art for 1999, and the black and white cover of the The Time’s self-titled debut.
A fascinating panel on arrangements with Brent Fischer, whose father, Clare Fischer, did Prince’s string arrangements for decades and Michael B. Nelson of the Hornheads, who did Prince’s horn arrangements revealed more about Prince’s musical genius and recording process. Panels in the next few days are scheduled on Dance and the early years of the Minneapolis sound.
PHOTOS: Paisley Park Studios, Steve Parke
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