*This article was contributed by the A&T Register and is the first in our new section, Campus Connections, which will seek to provide Nubian Message Readers with a sense of what is happening on Historically Black campuses*
Brie-Anne Robinson| Staff Writer The A&T Register
Rock, rock, holly rock, everybody wanna holly rock,” screamed fans as Sheila E. and Family chanted as the band rocked the house with their soul-stirring performance to her critically acclaimed song “Holly Rock!”Fans filled Harrison Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Oct. 17 as Sheila E. and The E. Family launched this year’s Lyceum series.N.C. A&T Cold Steel drumline opened the show with a riveting, impelling percussion tribute to Sheila E. as they filled the aisles of the auditorium with excitement.The drumline came together all in fun hyping up the audience and gaining participation and building anticipation for the nights event. The opening performance evoked an emotional moment for the legendary female percussionist, as she had never been honored in that manner before throughout her career, she said.
“A&T University. The most amazing time of my entire career. U welcomed us in a way we will never 4get! Indescribable,” tweeted Sheila E after her performance.
WNAA-FM, the broadcast voice of N.C. A&T, has officially declared Oct. 17 “Sheila E. & The E. Family at A&T Day.”
The Lyceum series focuses on bringing the most provocative, culturally diverse programming to not only the university, but neighboring communities as well.
“This was my opportunity to actually introduce to NC A&T students and the general public Latin music and the impact that it has globally on all types of genres of music,” explained Ezinma Murphy, a Lyceum series committee member.
“My goal was to expose students to global music and expose cultural diversity in performing arts,” she said.
In previous years, the Lyceum series has had a number of events put in place for students and the A&T community but decided to downsize this year with two great performances, not due to budget cuts but they want to focus on sharing more unique quality programming.
“It’s hard to bring top rate programming without having the means to attain it,” stated Gregory Horton, co-chair of the Lyceum series.
“In order to keep the momentum up from the students and the community, you can’t bring anybody. I realized this generation knew who Sheila E. was mostly from their parents and past generations, as well as her smash hit ‘Glamorous Life.” he said.
He expressed how surprised he was to see all 450 student tickets sell out first as this years series was able to gain the attention of our Latino community and surrounding neighbors through television and radio advertising.
Sheila E. and her band took the stage in full force with soul-stirring performances that brought the audience to their feet. It is clear to see that performing arts comes center stage when it involves Sheila E. and the Family.
“I feel that we have lost the arts within the school lately because of cut backs and things that is going on in the world. I think it’s so important for young people to get involved in anything that is artistic, whether its dance or acting. Whatever that art might be, it not only helps the student, but it is something that every school should have,” said Pete Escovedo, legendary percussionist who is also Sheila E’s father.
“It keeps you healthy and brings a lot of smiles on people’s faces!” expressed brother Juan Escovedo.
The E Family have not always relished in the luxuries that the music industry has offered. They had to endure hardships along the way as well.
“At the beginning when I started performing with pops on our first record in the 70s, people said that even a father and daughter team couldn’t make it and for us not to do the record,” Sheila E. said. Because of our love for music, pops encouraged me to continue moving forward because this is what we have chosen for our career and we continue to fight because of our love for music.”
It was a special moment for both Sheila E. and her band as much as it was for the fans as her father and brother joined her on stage to show fans where all her expertise came from.
With Juan Escovedo on the congas, and Pete Escovedo on the Remo roto tom drum, they made the audience jump to their feet with their skills and Latin-soul inspired music.
N.C. A&T later tweeted, “We are glad that you and your family enjoyed yourselves. You are welcome back in Aggieland anytime!”
Sheila E. later retweeted, “U will be in our hearts 4ever! We will be back. God Bless.”
The E Family not only believes in the essence of performing arts among youth today, but also feel it is important for young people to participate in this year’s election.
“I believe voting is extremely important. We believe in our president. I think that he believes in our country and it’s from the heart. That I appreciate,” said Pete Escovedo.
“I think young people should look to the future and not at what somebody says they’re going to do because it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen right now and that’s what our president stands on. I think that young people should realize that if they vote for Obama, your future looks more secure than anyone else talking right now,” he said.
Sheila E. and the Family released their latest album Now & Forever in 2011. The album is a timeless musical journey through Jazz, Latin, Hip Hop, and Pop sounds to special features from Raphael Saadiq, George Duke, Joss Stone, Gloria Estefan, and many more. The E Family represents versatility and talent that is able to cross many barriers and inspire others to do the same. They strive to bring back performing arts by setting an example for others before them.
The Lyceum series continues to promote cultural diversity in performing arts and plans to bring the Russian Ballet to our A&T community in the spring.