The Beat of My Own Drum: A Memoir

Sheila E., with Wendy Holden. Atria, $26 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4767-1494-3
In this extraordinary story of talent and drive overcoming the damages of early childhood sexual abuse, Sheila E., née Escovedo, has produced a standout celebrity memoir. Drawn to drumming from a young age as the daughter of famed percussionist Pete Escovedo, she discovers the full extent of her passion while performing for the first time with her father in West Oakland, Calif. At six years old, the victim of rape by a baby-sitter, Escovedo finds solace in performing music. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but letting me play with Pops and his Escovedo Brothers Latin Jazz Sextet must have been some kind of reward,” she writes of her family’s guilty silence over the assault she initially tried to conceal. In a tone free of self-pity, Escovedo finds that telling her story frees her of the shame she had been carrying around since she was a girl. The darker material is well-balanced with engaging anecdotes about performing Marvin Gaye’s final tour, her romantic involvement and professional collaboration with Prince, and the much-left-unsaid story of her niece, Nikki—better known to the world as Nicole Ritchie. Escovedo goes well beyond name-dropping and doesn’t spare herself; in describing her relationship with Carlos Santana, she recalls finding out that he was married and that she was a mistress. A scene of her encountering his family members and realizing the gravity of the role she played in the destruction of a marriage is among the book’s most raw, compelling moments. In what is ultimately an inspiring story of survival over adversity and fulfilling her potential as an artist, Escovedo’s disarming honesty, humble nature, and levelheaded sweetness are the memoir’s steady beat. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 03/24/2014
Release date: 09/02/2014
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