All Articles Tagged "Prince"

“There Was A Very Intense Relationship” Judith Hill Recounts Her Last Moments With Prince.

June 22nd, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: AP Images

Source: AP Images

You may have heard Judith Hill’s name and seen her face before. I first saw her in Michael Jackson’s posthumous This Is It documentary. She was set to work as his background singer on what was supposed to be his last tour. But Jackson died before the tour ever launched.

I saw her again on NBC’s “The Voice” and then later, featured in a Grammy-award-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. 

What I didn’t know was that she was working closely with Prince for the past two years. So close, that she was with him when pilots had to make an emergency landing on the flight less than a week before his death. Hill spoke to The New York Times about their relationship and the last few days they shared together.

The story started when she detailed the flight:

“She was sitting on a plane with a man she loved, talking, having dinner, when suddenly he lost consciousness. She shouted his name: Prince. She shook him. But he didn’t come to.”

On the flight from Atlanta to Prince’s home, Paisley Park, just outside of Minneapolis, Hill said, “His eyes fixed.” She, Prince, and his longtime friend and aide were the only passengers on the private jet. The New York Times said that if Hill had glanced away from Prince, she might have thought he dozed off. But she said, “Thankfully, I happened to be looking into his face.” 

She immediately got Prince’s aide, the pilots made an emergency landing and Prince was later taken to the hospital.

Hill said she was very freaked out and kept trying to wake him, shaking him and calling his name. On the tarmac, Prince was revived by paramedics with a shot of Narcan, typically used to treat opioid overdoses.

By the time he made it to the hospital, he was awake and talking.

Hill said she was relieved to see him in this state because she thought he was gone.

Hill said, “I was with Prince the last two years of my life.” She left her home in L.A. to live in Paisley Park and open concerts for him in Baltimore, Detroit and Washington. He also co-produced her 2015 debut album, Back in Time and offered advice as she separated herself from her recording contract with a major label.

Hill said, “Now he’s gone, and I realize I was leaning on him a lot. And that’s what’s scary. I’m on my own.” 

And while this is not the first time Hill has been near when a musical icon passed away, she says it’s not the same.

“Michael was different. I didn’t know Michael [except] as a fan and as someone that worked for him.” 

When asked if her relationship with Prince was romantic, she said, “There was a very intense relationship. I deeply cared for him.” She said in a conversation not long before he died Hill said, “He told me that he loved me and that he would always be there for me.” 

The two met when, in an interview around the time of promotion for 20 Feet From Stardom, Hill said her dream collaborator would be Prince. He saw the interview and reached out to her, inviting her to a jam session at Paisley Park.

On her project, Back in Time, Prince served as her background vocalist. Others said Prince respected and regarded Hill’s musical opinions in high esteem, often taking her suggestions. Marcus Anderson, a horn player for Prince, said “That was kind of a first.” 

But despite their closeness, Prince never told her that he was in pain after decades of performance and hip surgery.

“I only know what everyone knows about his pain—I read about it. He was quick on his feet. Never said anything, that this is hurting, never a sign of struggle. That’s why it’s all very shocking.” 

While Prince was a vegan, interested in a clean living and frowned on recreational drug use, those close to him say that he became dependent on painkillers.

After the incident at the hospital, Prince promised Hill that he would begin taking steps to heal himself. He underwent tests by a local physician.

“He did it because he was concerned, and he wanted to do the right thing for his own body,” Ms. Hill said. “And that’s the part that breaks my heart, because he was trying. He was trying.”

While he was in the hospital, after the emergency landing, Hill said Prince told her, “It’s only by God’s grace that I’m even here. I had to fight for my life. I remember hearing your voices from afar and saying to myself, ‘Follow the voices, follow the voices, get back in your body, you gotta to do this.’ And he said it was the hardest thing he’d ever done, to get back into his body like that.”

Sheila E. Is Dedicating Her Upcoming Album To Prince

June 18th, 2016 - By Ashley Monaé
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Photo Credit: Derrick Salters/WENN.com

Photo Credit: Derrick Salters/WENN.com

The news of Prince’s untimely death is still weighing heavy on the heart of loyal fans, and most importantly, his former lover and collaborator Sheila E.

When the news of the Purple One’s death hit in April, the renowned singer, drummer, and percussionist was in the process of recording a dance album. However, with the loss, she was driven to create something more insightful. “It just wasn’t the music I wanted out right now,” Sheila told Billboard. “It’s not how I’m feeling; everything has changed. So a couple of weeks ago, I decided to write a whole new album. And it feels right.”

 

Sheila will also join a number of artists like the Roots, D’Angelo and Janelle Monae, to pay tribute to Prince at the BET Awards (June 26), and will drop a new ballad of a single inspired by her former fiancé, “Girl Meets Boy.”

 

The revamped album is also titled after the lead single, and will “feature uptempo tracks and ballads influenced in some ways by the pair’s relationship and ‘driven by the sense of loss that so many are feeling,'”she added.

Billboard also reports that the upcoming LP, which will be released later this year, will be her first solo project since 2013’s Sheila E.: Icon.

“We Got You” BET Announces Artists Involved In The Prince Tribute

June 7th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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After the news of Prince’s passing fully set in—for some of us, points to myself, it still hasn’t— we began wondering who would be selected to honor the late, great musical icon. Since the Billboard Music Awards proved themselves incompetent in the face of the challenge, all of our hopes rested on the shoulders of BET.

And with their appropriately timed, super shady tweet, the network led us to believe that they were going to deliver.

BET/Twitter

BET/Twitter

Well, according to a recent press release announcing the artists set to honor The Artist, it seems like they were telling the truth.

The Roots, D’Angelo, Janelle Monae and Sheila E. are the performers set to celebrate the legend and his music.

I know I saw quite a few of these names on the wish list. I’m particularly happy to see Sheila E. made the cut since songwriter/producer, Linda Perry, went out of her way to not only defend Billboard’s decision to have Madonna tribute Prince but to insult his musical protégée and former fiancee, Sheila E., along the way.

In case you missed it, on CBS’ “The Talk,” Perry said, “…it’s really the Billboard Awards, they think about who is hot and popular. They’re not gonna call up Chaka Khan and re-put together The Time and Sheila E. because they’re not relevant right now.” 

But Madonna is apparently poppin’ in these streets.

Oh, okay…

Either way, with this line-up, we’re officially excited.

The BET Awards, which will be hosted by Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross, for the second year in a row, will air live on Sunday, June 26 at 8 p.m. EST.

Linda Perry Claimed Sheila E. Wasn’t “Relevant” Enough For Prince BBMA Tribute

May 26th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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Peruse the interwebs and social media and you’ll find that one name consistently appears at the top of everyone’s Prince tribute wish list: Sheila E.  A date has yet to be announced, but the musician, who performed and co-wrote timeless hits with Prince like “Erotic City,” “The Glamorous Life” and “A Love Bizarre” (not to mention, The Purple One did ask her to marry him), stated soon after Prince’s passing that she’s spearheading a Minneapolis-based tribute to the late musician and her good friend.

Those of us who made it through Madonna’s sincere though poorly executed/flat/soulless (any and all of these descriptions suffice) rendition of “Nothing Compares 2 U” at the Billboard Music Awards wished Sheila E., along with Prince-affiliated or heavily influenced musicians like Morris Day and The Time, The Revolution, New Power Generation members and a host of other artists who were willing or able to perform, graced that stage instead.  And while Madonna (and Stevie Wonder) had every right to perform that tribute, which wasn’t the first and won’t be the last to honor an icon whose music touched countless lives, it’s hard to imagine that someone could discredit Sheila E.’s ability to pull off an epic homage of “Housequake proportions.”  And yet, Linda Perry tried it.

While guest co-hosting on The Talk, the singer-songwriter (and wife of the show’s regular co-host, Sara Gilbert) had this to say when Sheryl Underwood threw Sheila E.’s name into the Billboard Music Awards’ Prince tribute hat: “In all fairness, Madonna was asked to do this and she was friends with Prince but you also have to think about, it’s really the Billboard Awards.  They think about who is hot and popular.  They’re not gonna call up Chaka Khan and re-put together The Time and Sheila E. because they’re not relevant right now.”

Hold your tongue, ma’am.  Sheila E. and “not relevant” are words that do not belong in the same sentence together. (And don’t even get me started on the disrespect towards the beloved Chaka Khan.) Whether intended or not, Gilbert’s comments were an unacceptable shot at Sheila E.’s impeccable artistry and legacy.

And, I’m sorry, did I miss something?  Allow me to be petty for a moment.  When did Linda Perry (did you have to Google her?  Yeah, me too) become the arbiter of artistic relevancy?  Yes, Billboard awards are presented annually to musicians who have produced chart-topping music within a given year, but that has nothing to do with relevancy or personal musical taste, for that matter.  Deducing Sheila E., who was a key player in Prince’s camp, as not relevant simply because she’s not on Madonna’s relative level of fame – notoriety is really what Perry was talking about – gives the machine of celebrity a power it doesn’t fully deserve.  It’s the music that matters.

To undermine talented, decades-in-the-game artists like Sheila E. who have put in the work and have the fans to prove it just because they aren’t on a certain level of fame or didn’t make the very short list of trending artists within the last year is beyond bogus.  By those standards, Prince himself wouldn’t have been deemed “relevant” in recent years, despite the fact that he constantly produced and released music.  Much of his library was difficult or impossible to access, however, on streaming mediums like Spotify, iTunes and YouTube, which is how a vast majority of consumers purchase and listen to music nowadays.  Yes, Prince was famous beyond measure, but he wasn’t topping the charts as of late, and his popularity wasn’t akin to what it was at the height of his fame in the ’80s and ’90s.  Did that make us love his music any less or render him irrelevant?  I don’t think so.

Linda Perry’s comments also suggest that music and its respective artists have an expiration date that not even a tribute can reanimate.  Apparently, music (and its corresponding creator) can go sour; become the musical equivalent of the Latin language; rendered inaccessible and give you no feels the second a musician steps out of the limelight.  Not only that, Perry’s biting words go against the very values and principles that Prince, who aided, trained and learned from musicians and artists in countless other disciplines, many of whom never achieved his level of fame, upheld.  Music, not fame, was the name of the game.

So, how did Sheila E. respond to all of this, you ask?  After pounding out a fierce, impassioned solo on the timbales in a way that only she can, Sheila E. paused during a recorded performance (see video below) to deliver a poignant statement in response to Linda Perry.  She did so without naming names, but I already went ahead and did that for you.

“On behalf of musicians, artists, creators, performers and anyone aspiring to be one of those, YOU ARE RELEVANT!  It was exactly that type of attitude and comment, recently conveyed on a talk show by a misinformed guest that Prince, Paisley Park and those who have been an extension of, continually fought, and still fight, against.  The creations and the creators, contrary to fleeting popularity or fame, is what breathes life into art.  The lack of understanding and myopic view of dollars over sense is what perpetuates the ignorance that continually works against the artist and the industry.  I am offended.  #RELEVANT.”

Boom.  How’s that for not relevant?  Keep marching to the beat of your own drum, Sheila.

Censored But Not Muted: Musicians Who Have Been Boycotted And Banned

May 9th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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Musicians, much like other artists, have been censored by radio stations, universities, libraries and practically any other space you can think of for decades.  Before them, writers who spoke out against atrocities committed by governments the world over had their books burned and banned. Typically, musicians are targeted for censorship because their lyrical content is deemed too risqué or inappropriate.  Or, their music videos are considered sexually suggestive or outright explicit and therefore unfit and unsafe for public consumption.  But censorship and the flat-out banning of songs and videos always seems to work in favor of the artists – earning them more public attention and ultimately more album sales, giving credo to the saying there’s no such thing as bad publicity.  Controversy, whether intended or not, sells, and these artists clearly aren’t afraid to push boundaries or to speak their minds.  Here is but a small list of artists whose music was at one point or another censored, boycotted or banned.

A Prince Hologram Might Be On The Horizon

May 1st, 2016 - By Ashley Monaé
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Prince Rogers Nelson

Corbis

The popularity of celebrating late and great musicians via holograms continues to flourish. First, there was the somewhat eerie, digital debut of  Tupac at Coachella in 2012 along Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Then, Michael Jackson rocked the 2014 Billboard Music Awards with killer choreography and more. Recently, there’s been talk of other influential, high-ranking artists like The Notorious B.I.G and Whitney Houston possibly making posthumous appearances with the help of the developing technology, too.

Now, after the shocking passing of icon Prince, there’s buzz that fans and audiences alike may get the chance to relive his musical greatness live. Not even after a week of his death, Hologram USA said that if fans and the estate are interested, they’d be willing to produce a hologram of the artist.

“We are mourning the loss of Prince along with his millions of fans,” Hologram USA CEO Alki David said to The Wrap. “If at some point in the future his estate and the fans feel a hologram performance would be a fitting tribute, we’d be honored to celebrate the Sexy Motherf—er in every way.”

What are your thoughts? Too soon? Or would you be willing to see a posthumous Prince performance?

D’Angelo Performs “Sometimes It Snows in April” For Prince, Gets Choked Up

April 27th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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YouTube

YouTube

Okay, our title may be a little harsh, on second thought. Jazmine Sullivan and Anthony Hamilton and his Hamiltones singing “Adore” was also pretty awesome. And Fantasia and The Color Purple cast’s rendition of “Purple Rain”? They gave us goosebumps. But after watching, you will have to admit that this performance by D’Angelo of “Sometimes It Snows in April” from the Parade album just pulls at the heartstrings like no other. It makes it even more indisputable that Prince truly is no longer here, which just makes one want to cry…

The performance took place last night during Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. D’Angelo, accompanied by Princess, the cover band led by comedian Maya Rudolph, performed enshrouded in purple light. And while the entire performance was moving, perhaps the most poignant moment came when D changed the lyrics near the end to “I often dream of heaven and I know that Prince is there,” and then proceeded to get choked up.

For those who wasted no time giving suggestions for stars to perform in a Prince tribute at the upcoming BET Awards, D’Angelo (along with the likes of Miguel and Janelle Monàe) have always been at the top of our list. The musician has always spoken of the influence Prince’s musical abilities had on him and his desire to be a renaissance man of sorts. As he said about being inspired while working on his debut album, Brown Sugar, “I was one of those guys who read the album credits and I realized that Prince was a true artist. He wrote, produced, and performed, and that’s the way I wanted to do it.”

D’Angelo and The Purple One were friends. And who could forget D’Angelo’s fantastic cover of “She’s Always in My Hair“? With all these things in mind, it only makes sense that he would be called upon to perform and that in the midst of doing so, would be hit with an overwhelming sense of sadness over the loss of his beloved friend and idol. Check out the performance for yourself below, as well as D’Angelo’s impromptu rendition of “Venus De Milo“:

The Best Prince Tributes From Coachella And Beyond

April 25th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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Prince Rogers Nelson

Corbis

As we continue to mourn the sudden and unexpected death of one of music’s greatest icons, Prince Rogers Nelson, we also celebrate his vast musical legacy.  Tributes to the late icon can be seen worldwide.  Fans have flocked to Paisley Park to pay their respects.  Landmark buildings, monuments, and bridges like the Eiffel Tower, New Orleans Superdome, and Minneapolis’ I-35 bridge were lit in purple.  And at music and arts festival Coachella in Indio, Calif., musicians paid tribute to Prince, singing his songs and wearing the color purple.  The outpouring of love shows how much the legend touched people from every walk of life.  Here are some of the many ways that fellow musicians as well as fans (including celebrity ones) paid their respects.

 

Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

Dave Chappelle

The comedian, who famously portrayed Prince on his defunct sketch comedy show, said he nearly canceled his stand-up performance in San Francisco after learning of Prince’s passing.  Like most of us, Chappelle was completely distraught.  He told the audience that Prince’s death “is the Black 9/11.” Instead, he did a four-hour long show where he joked about the musician’s impact on him and pop culture.

We Now Live In A World Without Prince and Michael Jackson. What’s Happening To Our Icons?

April 25th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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WENN

WENN

We now live in a world without Prince and Michael Jackson.  I can not deal.  Nothing about that feels right, and it truly pains me to type those words.

Like millions of fans around the globe, I’m still in a state of shock that Prince Rogers Nelson, one of the greatest and most prolific entertainers to ever walk the earth, died at 57 years young last week.  Since his sudden and unexpected passing, I’ve alternated between fits of denial, anger and sadness.  Rest in peace, gone too soon – neither of these general phrases adequately express the tremendous weight of his loss, just like none of these words seem to encapsulate what Prince and his music meant to me personally, and to the world.  But I’ll try.

A child of the ’80s, the decade both his and Michael’s reigns ruled supreme; Prince is as natural to my existence as the purple birthmark on my tongue and the very air I breathe.  Unapologetic, undeniably sexy, self-aware and woke AF, Prince was equal parts magic and mystery.  Mysterious, not because he was labeled a private person, a word that never seemed to fit, in my opinion, considering how much he put into his music.  The mystery lied more in his ability to make me feel so deeply.  To confuse me when I was old enough to realize that his masculinity was heavily steeped in femininity, a quality that was at odds with society’s traditional standards of Black manhood.

The magic lied in Prince’s blindness to rules that never applied to him.  How could they?  This was a man who defined the word “style” as Ali’s jab.  A man who let only Black people refer to him as Prince after he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol.  The magic also lied in his ability to enthrall completely.  How could one person be so talented?  Prince hit notes that no one should be able to hit.  His compositions brought tears to my eyes, and his clever lyrics married the words carnal and divinity.  They also birthed my writing sensibilities.  Prince’s sheer, remarkable talent was effortless.  The way he commanded the stage – rather, any space he occupied – was nothing short of magic.  Prince entered a room and time stopped.  Heads turned.  Mouths went agape.  Molecules changed.  Screams ensued. That’s exactly how I would describe having seen him at a club years ago in Los Angeles.  He seemed to appear out of nowhere like an apparition.  I was frozen as he glided past me on an ethereal, purple cloud.  It seemed as if spotlights followed him from above and below, like the glowing sidewalk in Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video.  Like Bruce Leroy, Prince had the glow.  And he wasn’t even looking for it.  That sh-t just came naturally.

I had the great fortune of attending three of his concerts.  The first time I saw Prince was at the Staples Center during his Musicology tour.  I remember wanting to live in that moment; to stuff that purple goodness in a bottle and get free on its fumes.  Smelling salts for the soul.  The next two times I saw Prince in concert were much more intimate.  He played at The Forum.  Tickets were only $25, a testament to how much he loved his fans.  Prince was in his element those nights, playing hit after hit.  One of those nights he opened with “D.M.S.R.”  Another night, he closed with “Purple Rain”…only to return 30 minutes later after much of the crowd had left, except for those who never stopped cheering, applauding and calling his name.  “Do you know how many hits we got?” he said while playing that famous purple piano.  Of course, we did.  How could we not?

Prince’s music accentuated my everyday lived experiences.  He was by my side at my brother’s wedding.  “Adore” was the first song he and his wife danced to as newlyweds.  The song “1999” was the theme of my high school prom.  His music has been a constant companion through thick and thin, good and bad.  An icon. And sadly, it seems that more and more of our icons are leaving us, taking with them that nostalgic feeling from our youth, reminding us that we truly don’t know what greatness we have until it’s gone. Who is left?

A consummate creator, an enigmatic, sexy mofo.  Trendsetting king of cool.  He was a Prince for the ages.  My friend Jackie often jokes that it was Prince’s world, and we were just living in it.  She was right.  There will never be another like him.  How lucky for us to have known his greatness.  Thank you, sweet Prince.

Why I Am Upset That We Can’t See Any Of Prince’s Videos

April 22nd, 2016 - By Charing Ball
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Prince Rogers Nelson

Corbis

What can you really say about Prince that hasn’t already been said – other than he has gone way to soon?

I mean, I know folks pass away all of the time, but talk about random. And honestly, I haven’t fully accepted the fact that he is no longer here with us anymore. Like, I’m waiting for him to sashay out some secret purple underground enclave hidden deep within Paisley Park and say that it was all a huge misunderstanding. That he isn’t actually dead, but rather, purifying and getting himself reborn in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.

Anyway, like the rest of you, I wanted to mourn the death – as well as celebrate the life and wonderful artistry of one of the best to ever do it – by planning a mix of his tunes. So I headed over to YouTube and Googled “The Best of Prince…” to set adrift on memories bliss.

But alas, a Prince song was nowhere to be found. No “Diamonds and Pearls.” No “Kiss.” Not even a dubstep mix of “Adore.”

Needless to say, my mood went from sad to downright disappointed. Paying homage to our recently departed artists through song and music videos on social media is a huge part of the modern-day grieving process. Yet when I looked around yesterday, I saw a bunch of profiles struggling to compile lists of “our favorites” from sheer memory and coming up short, because obviously, without a primer, you aren’t going to remember them all.

I mean, all of my Prince “albums” are actually on cassette tapes. (Yeah, I know: What are those?)

But according to this article in The Daily Beast, in spite of the discomfort and disappointment, Prince might have wanted it this way.

More specifically:

Last summer, in what would be his final middle finger to an exploitative record industry and last act of badassery in a career devote[sic] to championing artists’ rights, Prince withdrew his music from all streaming services except for Tidal.

One month before vacuuming his content from those free services, Prince retweeted an article from The Daily Beast that championed Taylor Swift’s stand against Apple Music because of the service’s initial policy of not paying artists for streams during customers’ free trials.

In his tweet, Prince took a stand against Spotify, quoting the line, “Spotify is co-owned by record labels, who hold 20 percent of the company’s stocks.”

As most of us already know, Prince had long been a strong advocate for artist rights. In the ’90s, he was involved in a bitter split from Warner Bros. Records over both money and ownership of his music. In protest, he began to appear publicly with the word “Slave” etched on the side of his face.

And as reported last year in The Guardian about his now infamous fight against the label:

His argument was that he was signed to Warner and they, as a result, owned and controlled his name as well as any music released under that name. He changed his name to that of a symbol and was referred to, variously, as “Symbol”, “Squiggle” or “the Artist Formerly Known as Prince”. This coincided with George Michael’s ill-fated attempt to get out of his contract with Sony, which he had termed “professional slavery”, meaning the record labels had a serious PR battle on their hands that they could not afford to lose. Unable to break free completely, Prince fulfilled the terms of his contract with a rapid run of albums, some of which were regarded as a shameless purging of studio tapes and offcuts just to make up the numbers.

It would take 18 years before Prince would regain ownership of his catalog. Since then, he was pretty vigilant about protecting his art. His biggest adversary, of course, was the Internet. And in 2010, he said in an interview with the UK’s Daily Mail (as previously reported by The Guardian), “The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else.”

In 2014, he took his fight with the Internet a step further by removing all of his music from YouTube. And last year, Prince ordered all of his songs and albums removed from every streaming music service and online radio provider, with the exception of Tidal.

It should be noted that the topic of artist ownership and royalties have been a growing concern among many in the entertainment industry. Most notably, Beck, Taylor Swift and The Beatles who over the years have all fought or sought to have their music removed from social streaming sites like Spotify, Apple’s Beats Music, and Rhapsody.

But as noted by writer Josh Constine in this article from last year in Tech Crunch, online music streaming sites often are unfairly blamed for artist’s royalty issues when in fact, it is the record labels themselves who horde all of the money. He also adds, “Basically artists who are mad about streaming should demand better deals from their labels, remember the alternative is getting their work stolen, be patient, and tour. CD sales didn’t get huge overnight either. Once more people realize how amazing it is to be able listen to any song they want, the money will come.”

Of course, that was never an issue for Prince. The man could strum “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on his purple guitar while making weird googly eyes and most of us would have paid top dollar for that. And to be fair, you had to respect not only his business acumen but his desire not to be used and taken advantage of like so many others.

But still, I also feel like we, the fans, got kind of lost in his fight against the industry. And right now, when we need to hear from him the most, there is nothing but silence.