Yesterday morning, the world received news that a cultural icon left his earthly body. Prince Rogers Nelson, the man who has been known by a single name reserved for royalty, a phrase referencing his former name, a symbol, and back to Prince again, passed away at 57 years old in his studio a Paisley Estate in Chanhassen, MN. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed later today, but most are siting his bout with the flu as possible cause of death. In her official statement late yesterday morning, Prince’s publicist,Yvette Noel-Schure, omitted any language about the cause of death. While other outlets attempt to predict the cause of death and generate conspiracy theories on the musician’s sudden passing, the most important query is deciding how to honor his legacy.
With a discography that spans and 38 years and 39 albums, Prince makes living his legacy extremely easy. The artist born of two musicians (his father band leader of The Prince Rogers Band, and his mother a jazz singer who also sang with the band) was serious about three things, craftsmanship, business, and authenticity. Four if you include the color purple. Through his songs and his rare but gratifying interviews, music lovers of all genres came to know Prince as more than a singer. He was an expert guitarist, an activist, and through his unapologetic display of self, encouraged people to celebrate their uniqueness.
From fashion to sexual liberation, Prince transcended music, revolutionizing the culture and the industry one decade at a time. Though his work transcended standard genres, he still somehow managed to own Pop, Rock, and R&B in a way that was expressly his. The man wore heels with the ease of your favorite model, rocked a pompadour (or blowout depending on the decade) that made you question the skill of your favorite hairdresser, and rocked eyeliner so perfect your favorite makeup artist envied his skill, all while redefining the concept of masculinity.
With his passing, as with the death of most musical virtuosos-especially with music award season re-emerging, comes many well-intentioned musical expressions of the impact Prince has on an artist’s life. We’ve all seen tributes done wrong, so here a list to event producers and major music media companies as they start the tribute planning. Industry take heed of this list, and use it as a guiding point for those who have considered Prince tributes after the Purple Rain.
Who would you like to see be part of the living legacy of Prince with a Prince tribute?
A musical pioneer in his own right, Stevie wonder understands the gift and the curse of being a musician, and the need to always be his authentic self. He has always lauded the work of Prince on and off the mic, referring to him as a member of his ‘Love Army’. Stevie was also one of the first starts to speak out in reaction to his friend’s death. Remember when Prince and Stevie performed “Superstition”?
In a 2012 interview, Miguel said he was “embarrassed for Prince” when he kept hearing the Prince/Miguel comparisons. But lets be honest… what better compliment can a talented singer/songwriter with a small frame, pompadour, and the most beautifully explicit songs about sex, ask for? “Adore” would be an obvious song of choice.
Legends celebrating legends is always a great performance, as Prince reminded us in his 200 tribute to Chaka Khan. Chaka has the showmanship and vocal chops to perform any Prince song, but with her timeless beauty and sexiness, “Erotic City” would be an amazing performance. Prince and Chaka always had amazing chemistry, and one of Chaka’s biggest hits, “Feel for You” was written by Prince.
Does this actually need an explanation? The talent, friendship, and connection between the two is undeniable and indelible. In an Huffington Post interview in 2014, Kravitz said, “I think it would be really interesting one day to put together a band. Like, [find] other people who may be solo artists, and put together a band and make an album,” he said at the time. “Prince would be one of them”. Lenny performing “Little Red Corvette”? Yes, please.
Can you hear Boy George performing “The Beautiful Ones”? Something about his smooth voice, Prince appreciation and manliner makes this an easy association. Not to mention, Boy George is an international 80s icon in his own right. Upon hearing of Prince’s death, Boy George tweeted,”Today is the worst day ever. Prince R.I.P I am crying!”.
Jennifer Hudson and Cynthia Erivo
The video of Jennifer Hudson, Cynthia Erivo, and the cast of ‘The Color Purple’ performing “Purple Rain” at the end of their show last night was a beautiful way for the cast to end their show and honor the legend. Hudson, friends was Prince, was visually moved by moment, as was the audience. It was a feel-good moment where Prince seemed more alive than he had the entire day. Also, it is time that we let a woman handle the “Purple Rain Tribute”. Erivo has an amazing voice and can hold her own as well. Event Producer, please , please do not have Prince make this face from the heavens.
Morris Day and The Time, Sheena Easton, Sheila E.
Formed from a clause in Prince’s contract with Warner Brothers, Morris Day and the Time is timeless R&B. With an interesting and lifetime tie to Prince, what is a tribute without the band? Which song should the band sing? Pick a song, any song. In fact, lets add Sheila E., Sheena Easton and see an “Oh Sheila”, “U Got The Look” mashup.