For the past 8 months, I’ve been on hiatus from blogging as I transition into a new position in association management. I knew it would take a powerful event to get me back here.
Unfortunately, it was the death of Prince.
Three days later and it’s still hard for me to write that sentence. I thought I wouldn’t have to write this for another twenty years or so. Way after my 20th concert experience where I would recall the time my friend Eloiza Altoro and I finally make it onstage to dance with Prince. Sadly, that will never happen. Instead of focusing on sadness of the situation, I wanted to share some of my personal memories of a life that included this genius.
I grew up hating him. I loved Michael Jackson. If you were an avid reader of Right On magazine, Prince and MJ were rivals for the affection of young black girls everywhere. Michael represented the guy we were going to marry. Prince was the guy we knew to stay away from. Then came Purple Rain. I was 11 and Jean and James Reeves would not let me see a rated R movie or get the album. However, thanks to a local DC music video show, I saw the video for Let’s Go Crazy. I. Was. Hooked. Sure, Michael could sing and dance. But, Prince could sing, dance and play guitar.
As the years passed, my fandom grew. I saw my first Prince concert during my sophomore year of college. He played the Patriot Center at George Mason University in VA. My lasting memory was when began playing Purple Rain by saying, “You know I couldn’t leave before singing my baby.” My next concert was in 2004 at the Verizon Center in DC. Highlights included catching the last few minutes of his soundcheck where he ended the set by doing this
Three years later, my sister and I were in Vegas for what turned out to be the last show of his Vegas residency. Imagine being in a small club with Prince and Sheila E barely 100 feet from you. The joy of the situation cannot be described.
Last year, my sister and I attended what would be our last Prince concert. On a Tuesday evening in May, my friend Bea sent me an urgent FB message asking if I heard about Prince coming to Baltimore. Just then, the local Fox affiliate released information on the concert which was meant as a healing balm for the city. THIS IS NOT A DRILL I yelled. I secured two $22 nosebleed seats, but I didn’t care. I wanted to be in the building. When we got to the Royal Farms arena. I had a change of heart. I wanted to be closer. I went to the box office and said to the guy in the booth Look, we’re all the way at the top. Do you have anything in the 200 section? I’m willing to pay the difference. He goes through some files and found two tickets. He said Take these. The usher will help you find your seats. I asked about paying the difference. He said Don’t worry about it. I looked down and discovered that he gave me seats three rows from the floor. Seats that originally cost over $400 apiece. I snuck in a few pictures, but for the most part, I lived in the moment. Prince was dancing as if he was 30 years younger. He looked happy and full of energy. He kept repeating, “No curfew” before he launched into a song. The crowd ended up chanting No Curfew! to get him back on stage for an encore. His response: Seriously? :-)
On March 4, Sandra Giarde attended her first Prince show in Oakland. She texted me during and after the show to announce that I’d soon be the proud owner of his new album Hit n’Run Phase 2. I had just come home from the Black Cat, a performance venue in DC where a DJ held a 1958 party celebrating the music of Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince (all born in 1958, get it?). Before I left, the DJ closed the night with Purple Rain. I’m a fan of the song, but it never affected me emotionally…until that night. I’m not sure why, but I shed a few happy tears as the song ended.
Never has an artist connected with me on so many levels. Prince showed me it was okay to different when I desperately wanted to be like everyone else. He made it comfortable for me to blast rock music in my car with the same ease as blasting R&B or hip hop. He exposed feelings that I was told to keep hidden. He told us to live boldly and to never think your ideas are too crazy to work.
Safe home Sweet Prince. Your music will continue to impact my life in the years to come.