Local musician Rebecca Jade, second from right, performed with Elton John and his backup singers at the Academy Awards in February.
Local music fans might have done a double-take while watching Sir Elton John’s performance at the 92nd annual Academy Awards ceremony of his song (which won an Oscar) “I’m Going To Love Me Again,” when the show aired on February 9, 2020.
Yes, that was San Diego homegirl Rebecca Jade alongside five other background vocalists accompanying the superstar. How did Jade score the gig? Turns out Sheila E. is the common denominator. Jade has been a background vocalist for Ms. E for almost three years, often performing with Lynn Mabry (who was featured in the documentary 20 Feet From Stardom.) “Lynn actually sang background on the original recording,” Jade explains, “and the Academy wanted to use the same musicians. One of the women wasn’t available, so she put in a good word for me and they obliged”
Accompanying a pop music legend on an internationally broadcast award show involves a lot of preparation. Jade recounts her pre-performance week. “On day one all six of us met to rehearse in the Capitol Records building to learn our parts and get the sound down. Day two, we convened at the Dolby Theater and learned the choreography and got our blocking and rehearsed with a stand-in and the full band three times. On the third day we rehearsed with the band off-site and that’s when we met Sir Elton. He was really nice and he came and introduced himself to each of the 18 musicians in the band. That takes us to Saturday, where we went back to the venue and did a full dress rehearsal. Finally on Sunday, we returned to the Dolby Theater, got into wardrobe, had our hair and makeup done and ran through the tune one more time. Then we had a few hours to kill before show time.”
How did the show go?
“I was pretty nervous, and I wanted to err on the side of caution, so I didn’t allow myself to look out at all the celebrities in the audience. I just stared at the empty aisle across from me so I didn’t lose my concentration and forget the choreography.”
What did she do after?
“We got to hang out backstage. All of us had gotten the chance to bond by then, so we just relaxed and watched the rest of the show. It was cool to be a part of it. It’s a very well-oiled machine. After that I was happy to drive back to San Diego after a week in L.A. It was definitely a surreal experience.”