Lionel Richie's adopted daughter NICOLE still has music in her blood - her paternal aunt is Prince protege SHEILA E.

Former Commodores frontman Lionel and his then-wife BRENDA adopted 22-year-old Nicole after meeting her as a toddler through her birth dad PETER MICHAEL ESCOVEDO III, who worked as a touring percussionist for the singer.

Escovedo, who was then a struggling musician, and Nicole's unnamed backstage assistant mother decided to let their child live with the Richies, confident they'd provide a better life for her.

And despite their past, Escovedo remains proud of his daughter, who stars in hit reality show The Simple Life.

He says, "I'm very proud of her and what she has accomplished. But our relationship is something very personal.

"It's not that I won't talk about it. It's just that I have to do it at whatever time Nicole wants to talk about it.

"My situation with my daughter is good. I don't consider it a skeleton in my closet."

Sheila E adds, "I love my niece Nicole."

16/01/2004 09:53