San Diego vocalist Rebecca Jade has been performing internationally as a member of “smooth-jazz” saxophonist Dave Koz’s Cruise. That’s where she met pop icon Sheila E. who approached her about filling in for one of her back-up singers. “One of them was unable to make a few dates, so of course I said ‘yes’ even though I had to bail on a few things here in town. One thing led to another, and I just celebrated one year as a member of her band. We’ve done about 40 shows all over the country.”
Jade has been enjoying the chance to travel and perform in front of much larger audiences. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I mean, 99 percent of the places we’ve played, I’ve never been to, so it’s all an adventure.... I’ve been able to see how the big machine works and how everyone on tour has a role to play. It’s been inspiring to watch [Sheila] as a leader, and how she takes care of business.”
How big are some of these gigs?
“We played the opening night of Super Bowl week in February, which was great because it was in Minneapolis and Sheila E. had a history of collaborating with Prince, who was from there. That was televised, and it was cool in more than one way, as in five degrees outside. We also did a show in Connecticut for 10,000 people.”
Her boss just turned 60 this year, but according to Jade, she’s showing no signs of slowing down or acting like a diva. “She’s had a career for decades. She’s still killing it, looking good, and sounding great. She treats the band like family, and I get a lot of inspiration from that.”
On the road, Sheila E. plays a lot of hoops to stay in shape. Jade attended UC Berkeley on a basketball scholarship and still plays in a women’s league in town. She discovered the boss is no pushover, though. “The first time we played ‘horse,’ she beat me twice. I got her back the next time, and now we have a little rivalry going.”
Sheila E's local connections also include her uncle Javier Escovedo, who co-founded the influential Chula Vista punk band the Zeros in 1976, and her uncle Mario Escovedo, who spent around 14 years with locals the Dragons. Rebecca Jade & the Cold Fact play the North Promenade at Arts District Liberty Station on July 22, along with bluesman Earl Thomas.