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Sheila E. Launches Her First Salsa Album With a Gloria Estefan Collaboration

The two Eighties hitmakers are teaming up for a cover of Celia Cruz’s “Bemba Colorá”

Longtime friends Sheila E. and Gloria Estefan are teaming up for the debut single from Sheila E.’s first-ever salsa album, Bailar. The two are sharing vocals on an energetic cover of the Celia Cruz classic “Bemba Colorá,” complete with a drum solo. The single, which also features singer Mimy Succar (whose father, Tony Succar, is the album’s co-producer), is out on Feb. 23, with the album dropping in April. “Gloria and I have been friends since the Eighties,” Sheila E. tells Rolling Stone. “So she’s family to me. And we just had a great time. Once she sang on it, I was just like, ‘This is it. It’s over.  This is incredible.’”

A salsa album has long been on Sheila E.’s “bucket list,” she explains, but she says she was always aware of how challenging the genre could be. “I grew up playing Latin jazz with my father, but salsa music is a whole other thing. And it’s very strict about the parts that need to be played specifically. And if you play them wrong, you shouldn’t play it at all. So it’s very demanding, and I really wanted it to be something that people would listen to and go, wow, this is amazing.”

The resulting album — which took two years to record and also has guest appearances from Ruben Blades, Gilberto Santa Rosa, and Luis Enrique —  mixes an authentic approach with “some pop and R&B and a little bit of hip-hop,” she adds. Sheila E. also has another album finished with her band, Sheila E and the E Train, that will come out shortly after the salsa LP. And she’s planning two more: a gospel album and a Christmas album.

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The drummer and singer appears in the new Netflix documentary on the making of “We Are the World,” The Greatest Night in Pop, and recently told our Rolling Stone Music Now podcast about that night — and her feelings of betrayal when she realized the producers were using her to try to get to Prince, then her close collaborator. Still, she said, she’s never minded hearing the song. “What we were there for definitely surpassed any negative situation that night. And what we were able to do for the people, I would do it all over again.”

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