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Dylan Talks! AARP exclusive interview and in-depth look at the American icon. Read now

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Sheila E.: The Beat Goes On

Her gift to abused and neglected children

Armed with this new attitude, Sheila teamed up with Mabry in 2001 to launch the Elevate Hope Foundation, which assists abused and abandoned children through music and the arts. Through the foundation, they renovated the music center at Vista Del Mar Child & Family Services, serving troubled and neglected kids. Then came Garage Band 101, a music production class using computers, and Songwriter’s Symposium, where students journal, exorcising emotions in much the same way Sheila did in Japan. Songwriters then take inspiration from the journals to write songs, which in turn are recorded. The project will culminate in a CD to benefit Vista.

“We have kids who would not come to school if not for those classes,” says Vista’s Airick Arqese. “Sheila understands [them]. It’s giving [them] a second opportunity.”

As it’s giving Sheila a second opportunity to compose a better future for herself and others. “It’s everyone’s obligation to do something. Whatever your job, it’s our duty to try to help somebody else,” she says. Getting ready for her afternoon studio session, she smiles and proclaims, “It’s been a wonderful journey thus far, and now, at 51, I’m starting a new life."

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