Onward and Upward: Sheila E.’s Elevate Oakland Benefit

SheilaEWe know her as one of the baddest women to ever pound out Latin rhythms on the timbales and bring the funk with the kick and the snare.  A bona fide “sex cymbal” who seamlessly shifts between genres, commands the stage with grace, and who never fails to keep it soulful, Oakland, CA native Sheila E. is so much more than a musical icon.  With her aptly-titled new album, Icon, slated for release in March of 2014, Ms. Escovedo is kicking off the new year by giving back to her beloved hometown with the upcoming Elevate Oakland Benefit concert, taking place on February 8 at Oakland’s famed Fox Theatre.

Elevate Oakland’s mission is to bring music education programs into Bay Area communities—first and foremost, Oakland—and launched at East Oakland’s Castlemont High School at the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year.  Proceeds from the concert will support the program’s curriculum at Castlemont and another Oakland high school Edna Brewer.  Elevate Oakland is a partnership comprised of two separate non-profits: Elevate Hope Foundation, founded by Sheila E. and singer and artist manager Lynn Mabry, and 51Oakland, the brainchild of Yoshi Akiba (of the world-famous Yoshi’s San Francisco/Oakland) and Bay Area entrepreneur Jason Hofmann.  With the unwavering support of the City of Oakland and Oakland Unified School District, Elevate Oakland is poised to make a tremendous impact in the lives of the young people involved in the program.

The inaugural Elevate Oakland Benefit will feature performances by San Francisco musician and activist Michael Franti, Oakland’s resident songbird, Goapele, and hip-hop maestro Kev Choice, Los Angeles-based Latin soul outfit Ozomatli, The Voice and 20 Feet From Stardom phenom Judith Hill, and powerhouse guitar goddess Orianthi.  If you’re in the Bay Area and want to treat yourself to a fantastic night of music while supporting a mighty cause, visit Ticketmaster for tickets.  For information on VIP and sponsor packages, and to donate to Elevate Oakland, visit elevateoakland.org/events/.  And if you’re not local, not to worry!  SoulTrain.com will be on hand to bring you highlights from the Elevate Oakland Benefit.  Stay tuned!

—Rhonda Nicole

Rhonda Nicole is an independent singer/songwriter, lovin’ and livin’ in Oakland, CA.  Download her EP ‘Nuda Veritas’ on CDBaby and iTunes, keep up with her new music at soundcloud.com/rhonda-nicole, and follow her on Facebook and on Twitter @wildhoneyrock.

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