Without Love, It Ain’t Much:
The Musical Legacy of Sheila E.

She was born Sheila Escovedo, but the world knows her as Sheila E., the legendary Latina recording artist and arguably the best female drummer in the world. Sheila grew up in a family of Latin music royalty; her father is famous Latin Jazz artist Pete Escovedo, her uncles and brothers are all professional musicians, and Tito Puente and Carlos Santana were among the many regulars who stopped by for daily jam sessions in the Escovedo living room. Sheila learned to play the congas at age three by mirroring the hand gestures of her father and was performing live on stage by the age of five. By her early 20’s, she had already been asked to play percussion alongside musical greats including Lionel Richie, George Duke, Herbie Hancock, and Diana Ross. She was on tour with legendary Marvin Gaye when he was tragically murdered. And in the 1980’s she rose to superstardom, creating number one hits with her infamous partner and closest collaborator, Prince.

 

But behind the scenes, the talented musician and pop icon struggled with dark inner demons and self-hatred; deep wounds that resulted from a violent rape and years of childhood sexual abuse that she kept secret from everyone, including her loving family. A fighter and a survivor, Sheila rediscovered a sense of safety and security by following her life’s passion and banging her heart out on a drum. She credits the music with saving her life.

 

This summer, Sheila will take on a project very near and dear to her heart: she will be leading a master class for a group of young teenagers in her hometown of Oakland, California; these teens, like Sheila, are all survivors of sexual abuse. Together they will talk about their experiences, write lyrics, play music, laugh, cry and heal together– and ultimately record an album of the music they create. The weeks of working together will culminate in a live concert, with the young musicians playing onstage alongside their mentor and confidante, the incomparable Sheila E.

“Without Love, it Ain’t Much” will follow Sheila over the course of the next year, documenting this extraordinary collaboration with the young artists and simultaneously recounting Sheila’s amazing life story through a collage of historical footage, celebrity interviews, and never-before-seen film and photos from Sheila’s personal archives.

Release Date:  2018/19

Filmmakers

Jennifer Steinman Sternin

Jennifer Steinman Sternin is an award-winning filmmaker with over 20 years of experience in television and filmmaking. She has established herself professionally as a creative storyteller, with a keen sense of pace and timing and the ability to tap into the heart and emotion of a story. Jennifer directs, produces and edits her own projects, and also does commissioned work for various television and corporate clients and fellow independent filmmakers.