As previously announced, Sheila E. will be among the artists paying tribute to Prince at the BET Awards (June 26). The day after the awards, Billboard has learned exclusively, the singer/drummer will release a new single inspired by her longtime musical collaborator and former fiancé, the ballad “Girl Meets Boy.”
Sheila E. had been recording a dance album, with plans to release a first single from the project in April. “Then that whole thing happened,” she says, referring to Prince’s death on April 21.
“It just wasn’t the music I wanted out right now,” she continues. “It’s not how I’m feeling; everything has changed. So a couple of weeks ago, I decided to write a whole new album. And it feels right.”
Titled after the lead single, the album will feature uptempo tracks and ballads influenced in some ways by the pair’s relationship and “driven by the sense of loss that so many are feeling,” adds Sheila E. The album, her first solo project since 2013’s Sheila E.: Icon, will be released later this year through her Stiletto Flats label.
As for next weekend’s Prince tribute, which also includes the Roots, D’Angelo and Janelle Monae, Sheila E. says it’s been difficult. “I wasn’t sure I could do it even though I said yes,” she explains. “In the first conversations about it, I couldn’t even say his name. And when I started putting the music together, it was hard for me to listen to anything. It’s actually been a part of my healing now, trying to figure out what I was going to play and what would be okay to make sure I would get through it. But it’s going to be fun.”