In 1984, Sheila E. was nominated for multiple GRAMMY Awards for her track "The Glamorous Life" from the album of the same name. So let me tell you about the "glamorous" life that this accomplished artist experienced last week.
On Aug. 4, Sheila left her house at 4 a.m. to catch her flight from L.A. to D.C. When I met her and her manager Lynn Mabry at their hotel late that afternoon in Washington, I learned that neither had a chance to eat a real meal. But time was short — Sheila was to testify before the U.S. Senate the next day and was still working on her testimony. So, we scarfed down salads as we worked on her statement. From there, we joined other members of the musicFIRST Coalition for a briefing session about The Performance Rights Act. Sleep deprivation be damned, Sheila was then subjected to an intense tutorial and roll-playing session where several of us played the parts of senators and peppered the witnesses with mock questions. The next morning, I picked up Sheila and Lynn bright and early so we could lobby Senate offices about the bill for the remaining hours before her testimony.
Glamorous, isn't it?
While the NAB continues to try and cast our side as greedy labels and diva artists, Sheila showed them — and the Senate — who this fight is really about: Working artists who simply believe they should be compensated when corporate radio uses their music for profit.
In an unscripted moment rare for the Senate, Sheila became emotional near the end of her testimony as she was overwhelmed by her passion for this issue. In talking about the children helped by her music foundation, she asked the senators how she can teach the kids to respect themselves when another business can use their music without payment or permission. "They say I can't get emotional up here," Sheila said, as her eyes welled with tears. "But I will because it's my life and it's not fair what's happening."
Her 48-hour whirlwind in Washington may not have been glamorous. But it was something far more important. It was real life.
For Sheila E.'s full testimony or to watch the webcast, click here.