Some thought Prince’s former fiancée and bandmate might not make Seattle Theatre Group’s annual event for youths, in light of his recent death. Not so.

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No one could believe she showed up.

But if anything was going to pull Sheila E. through the still-fresh loss of Prince, her former collaborator and fiancé, it was these kids: The young artists chosen to perform Friday at “More Music @ The Moore,” an annual showcase put on by the Seattle Theatre Group (STG).

“She could be anywhere, right?” asked Vicky Lee, the director of STG’s Education & Performance Programs as we sat in the theater Wednesday, watching rehearsal. Sheila E. sat in the next section over, in the second row.

She declined an interview through her manager, who said it was too soon. Everyone understood. Even as we sat there, news was breaking about Percocet being found in Prince’s system.

“Sheila wanted to be here,” Lee continued. “She didn’t cancel. She kind of came in a little numb with what she’s been through,” Lee said. “She sees these kids, and they’re looking at her …”

Her voice trailed off.

“But she’s here,” Lee said. “Full on. She’s all in with the artists, she’s all in with the crew. It’s a gift.”

This is the second year that Sheila E. — her full name is Sheila Escovedo — has served as musical director of Moore Music @ the Moore, now in its 15th year. Over the years, the program has welcomed mentors like the late Ernestine Anderson; Santana drummer and composer Michael Shrieve; singer Meshell Ndegeocello; and Catherine “Cat” Harris-White of Seattle hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction.

The students come from all over the region with a broad range of talents — rock, hip-hop, jazz, techno, gospel, R&B and beatboxing.

This year’s lineup includes 14-year-old Clayton Seibel, of Seattle, on a Klezmer violin; Gloria Plenkina, also 14, from Bellevue, singing and dancing to Russian Gypsy Music; soul singer Sam Foster; Seattle rapper One2; hard-rock band Suite Clarity from South Kitsap County; Seattle singer-songwriting duo Wandr; and R&B duo Common Tratez.

“These artists have stories,” said Carlene Brown, the More Music project director and chair of the music department at Seattle Pacific University. “And the only way to say what is going on with them is through music.”

Drummer Jawann Blanchey, 19, a music student at Shoreline Community College, won a spot in the lineup after two auditions and two interviews.

“This is my dream,” he said. “This is what I’ve wanted to do ever since I could think. I just love to play. Whenever I get a chance to play in front of people, I give it my all.”

His goals are to do what Sheila E. does: Play drums with celebrity artists and nurture young musicians.

“She speaks in a music language,” Blanchey said of Sheila E., then smiled. “She threw both of her shoes at me after my solo.”

It was a high compliment — and an indication that being here in Seattle, with these kids, might just be soothing her heavy heart.

“I do what I can to help her feel better,” Blanchey said. “I’m not a big deal, but if it’s that 1 percent, like throwing her shoes at me and making her laugh, that’s what I’ll do.”

Said Lee: “The kids were feeling it like everybody and gave her space to transition. It’s nothing like, ‘What was it like to work with Prince?’

“It’s all about what we’re doing, here and now.”