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Sheila E. Sweetly Honors Prince With ‘Lemon Cake’: Listen

Sheila E. and Prince
Jesse Grant/WireImage

Sheila E. and Prince

The single arrives ahead of ‘Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince,’ airing April 21.

Prince’s influential legacy will be celebrated next week on the fourth anniversary of his death with the April 21 CBS telecast Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince. In advance of the upcoming special, friend and frequent collaborator Sheila E. premieres her new single about the Purple One called “Lemon Cake.”

The Grammy- and Emmy-nominated percussionist says inspiration for the song goes back to when she and Prince first started recording in the studio. In addition to appetizing meals, Prince’s then-chef would bring the pair desserts and snacks like chocolate cake, cookies and popcorn.

“One day I mentioned to him that I make a good chocolate and lemon cake,” recalls Sheila E. “His response was, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you cooked.’ I said, ‘Of course I do. My mom being Creole and my dad Mexican, I better know how to cook.’ The next day I baked a lemon cake. It was love at first sight and one of his favorite things that we would share in the studio.”

Mixing a feel-good vibe with sexy rhythms, “Lemon Cake” will be released tomorrow (April 17) via distributor Ingrooves. Sheila E. co-wrote the song with Clinton Antoinette Michelle and Mychael Gabriel.

Sheila E. and Grammy-winning production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis served as co-musical directors of Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince (which will air on April 21 at 9:00 p.m. EST). Hosted by comedian Maya Rudolph, the all-star tribute includes performances of Prince songs by Beck, Gary Clark Jr., Common, Earth, Wind & Fire, Foo Fighters, H.E.R., Juanes, John Legend, Chris Martin, Miguel, Morris Day and The Time (including Jam and Lewis), St. Vincent, Mavis Staples, Usher, Prince band The Revolution and Sheila E.

The tribute was filmed on Jan. 28, two days after the tragic passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. “It was incredibly hard and painful,” says Sheila E. “But not for ourselves—our hearts were and are with the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers involved in the crash. Of course, everyone was committed to honoring Prince and doing our best. So we allowed both feelings to coexist—celebrating Prince’s life and legacy, Kobe’s life and legacy and acknowledging the untimely losses of people that simply cannot be replaced.”

Calling Prince a truly one-of-a-kind artist, Sheila E. hopes that what stands out in the tribute is the outpouring of love and celebration of him and his life’s work. “The tribute brings together so many musicians, artists and people that have worked with Prince or were inspired by him,” she adds. “It’s really a coming together of the community. And if I have to speak to what Prince would think about his legacy, it’s that. He’d be thrilled to know that the community is carrying his legacy forward, pushing the envelope and paying respect to the power of music."

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