SAN MATEO (CBS SF) – An 80s pop star was set to meet with incarcerated youths at San Mateo County’s juvenile hall Tuesday afternoon to share how music helped her cope with abuse she suffered as a child.
Sheila Escovedo, better known by her stage name Sheila E., was raped by her babysitter when she was 5 years old and molested later in her childhood.
Escovedo is an Oakland native and Grammy-nominated singer, drummer and percussionist. Her resume includes touring with stars including Prince, Diana Ross, Cyndi Lauper and Stevie Wonder.
This afternoon’s talk to some 110 youths, both boys and girls, at the San Mateo County Youth Services Center was arranged by county Probation Services Manager Todd Perras, who saw Escovedo interviewed on the music documentary TV program “Unsung” and noticed the parallels her life has with those of incarcerated youths at Juvenile Hall.
“The kids that we work with, most but not all, come from backgrounds where they have been abused in some way. It’s important for them to see someone as iconic as Ms. E. is in overcoming these issues,” Perras said.
Escovedo “turned her efforts into being somebody that is a survivor, is successful, is a role model and influential. That’s what we want our kids to hear,” Perras said.
She will also engage in an open conversation with the youths in which they will be encouraged to ask her questions, said Michelle Mendez, spokeswoman for the San Mateo County Probation Department.
Some of the youths don’t know who Sheila E. is but know her music, Mendez said.
The San Mateo County Youth Services Center has offered music programs in the past and is open to setting another one up through community partnerships, Mendez said.
Escovedo co-founded the Elevate Hope Foundation, which provides music therapy for abused and abandoned children.
From Tuesday’s talk, Mendez said she hopes the youths will learn that they all have something special about them that they can tap into to get through challenging times.
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