The series of sexual assault and harassment allegations surrounding Harvey Weinstein are prompting women in all fields to discuss similar experiences in their careers.
Percussionist and singer Sheila E. told HuffPost at Build Series Monday that she’s dealt with blatant sexism in her career, especially when she was first starting out in the industry.
On multiple occasions, she said, men in power tried to promise her big career opportunities in exchange for sex.
“Before I became Sheila E., just Sheila Escovedo — playing with different artists, you know, I was offended by men many times,” she said. “Offered sex many times to the extreme of a record deal — if I had sex. A hotel in Vegas with my name on it. A plane. I mean, like I can’t even begin to tell you the things that were offered to me. Like, are you kidding me? Really?”
The singer behind 1984′s “The Glamorous Life” added, “There were times where I had to walk away carefully because the industry ― politically what was going on ― it’s like, ‘No.’ I can say that I can sleep at night knowing that I have never done anything, never accepted anything ― other than me just working hard and trying to cut through these barriers of it’s a man’s world.”
Sheila E. hopes the Weinstein fallout and subsequent #MeToo social campaign helps change things for the better.
“This is crazy, and I think it’s about time people are talking about it, especially women,” she said.
Sheila E., meanwhile, wants to bring important issues to the forefront of the conversation with her new album, “Iconic Message 4 America.” It finds her reimagining songs by The Beatles, her longtime collaborator Prince and more ― all with the hope of shedding light on the political and social climate under the Donald Trump administration.
“I went back to the music of the ’60s and ’70s ― music that I grew up listening to — and lyrically tried to find songs that were still relevant. And there are a lot of songs written back then about what what’s happening now in our country,” she said.
The set also features a slate of guest artists, including Ringo Starr, Bootsy Collins and Freddie Stone.
In the end, Sheila E. hopes she can inspire positive change, even in a small way.
“I believe in freedom and justice and respect, but we can’t do it with hatred. I know we will never get rid of hatred. But if it means, even if I can reach one of you through love,” she said to the audience at Build, “and that feeling through our music, that you plant that seed in someone else’s life. Then it’s helping.”