The album opens forcefully with “Funky National Anthem: Message 2 America.” Sheila E. interweaves a funky version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” with inspirational audio clips from Martin Luther King, Jr., Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, and others. She quotes The Declaration of Independence, reiterating
…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…”
We’re not just going to protest, though; we’re “gonna have a funky good time.”
Relying largely on covers, Sheila E. has cleverly chosen tracks. The lyrics in “Come Together” by The Beatles lampoon a Trump-like character (“Here come ol’ flat top”) while imploring unity and merging at the end with “All You Need Is Love.” Iconic musical artists from the 60s and 70s join her on some of the tracks: Ringo Starr, Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, Freddie Stone. Israel Houghton creates a Stevie Wonder-esque vibe on “Jesus Children of America.” Other songs of unity include “Everyday People” (Sly and the Family Stone), “What the World Needs Now Is Love” (Burt Bacharach and Hal David), and “One Nation Under a Groove / Mothership Connection” (Parliament Funkadelic).
Prince’s “America” is one of the album’s rousing stand-outs. Sheila E. often joined Prince on tour, so she knows the tune intimately. She toured last year performing Prince covers and had time to hone her version to perfection. Another Prince colleague, Candy Dulfer, joins Sheila E. on sax.
Sheila E.’s Message of Love
In contrast to President Trump’s hypocritical words that are contradicted by actions, Sheila E. promotes a true message of love and justice for all. These are true American values. Respect, love and diversity undergird the video for “Funky National Anthem.” Her choice of music tracks reinforces these attitudes, not only through the lyrics but through the stylistic diversity of the music and the composers. Iconic represents a brilliant album from one of America’s most talented artists.