I’ve always loved Sheila E. From the the first time I saw her on some award show in the 1980s until last night on the BET Awards paying tribute to her long-time friend, Prince.
After the Billboards disappointed so many fans of the “Purple One”, we’re looking at their TV screens with a microscope that would put the finest scientist to shame. I am one to believe that BET indeed did not let us down. Every tribute artist and song was both painful to watch and hear. Not due to lack of talent but for the memories that were drudged back to the forefront of our brains.
The memories of him performing “Purple Rain” very unlike how Jennifer Hudson but a different kinda soulful. Stevie Wonder and Tori Kelly sang the popular fun track “Take me With U” and it was great but sorta paled in comparison in what was to come later in the evening. One of my favorite performers, Erykah Badu, sang “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” – backed by the Legendary Roots crew – which could be considered a lesser known song, but she put her own vibe on it and per Erykah, she souled it all the way out. The way Prince played his piano while singing “Nothing Compares 2 U”, very much unlike how Maxwell belted it out – plus he changed the lyrics – but nevertheless we enjoyed every minute as the time clock in the background ticked away the days and hours since Prince died. Who else could sing the “Beautiful Ones” like Prince? Not Bilal but I assure it was well worth watching him do it because I felt his love and own personal heartbreak. Janelle Monae. OMG, Janelle Monae. The Prince mentee and glorious ball of energy who epically revealed assless pants – also a tribute to her friend – sang “Kiss”, “I Would Die for U”, “Delirious, and “Pop Life”. After her medley, she fell to her knees and cried for her friend only to immediately rush off stage – in my imagination to be consoled.
But my. Oh my. Then came Sheila. The friend of Prince for nearly 40 years. The former fiancé. The band member. The confidante. The laugh mate. The dancing partner. The lover. And not just lover in bedmate. They just simply loved each other. An agape type of love. A FOREVER type of love. Beyond the grave type of love. She started with “Housequake” and went all the way through to “Glamorous Life”. She rocked us as if he was still there. Right there in the front. Mayte was dancing her best just like when they were husband and wife, deeply in love and making goo-goo eyes on stage. Jerome was there, smiling, dancing and up to his usual antics for his friend and sidekick. Did I mention that Prince’s band, background singers and dancers he used until his untimely death were there backing Sheila?! OMG! The rush! The love! The memories!
And then at the very end. They brought out blue cloud. The famous guitar that Prince so often amazed us with and also made us swoon. Sheila held the body and Mayte lifted the neck of the guitar to the heavens as if to give it back to him and say, “Keep playing baby. You’ve still got more to do.” We miss him. We will forever love him. Last night was the memorial – the funeral – that I needed to let go of such a huge amount of the pain.
Who would’ve thunk it? Prince. Gone. Forever? But WHY? Because he used himself up. I’ve heard people say that when they meet the Heavenly Father face to face, they want to be able to tell Him that they gave their all – all that he’d blessed them with, they gave to His flock. Well, I can honestly say, that when Prince got his opportunity to see God – whom he firmly believed in and spread His Word – he can say this with all conviction and truth.
He honestly left us his all. Good night, Sweet Prince.