April 22, 2016

I don’t remember the first time I heard him. I was too young, even though he was only 8 years older than me.

My mother and I had left the 1st household we lived in this country as a result of my aunt’s Imam husband’s directive that my mother stop seeing my stepfather. We moved into a house that my aunt owned and there started my  (as opposed to my mother’s) first introduction to the African diaspora. In my poem Blood Will Tell (My Mother’s Song), I referred to them as “block mothers” but that was poetic license. There were black men there as well. They played whisk, gin rummy, etc but when they played Prince, we children were ordered to leave. Because…Head and Do Me Baby.

Flash forward a few years and there was Chaka Khan and I Feel For You (written by the Purple One Himself, in case you, dear reader, are not old enough to remember/know).  

A few years after that, there was high school: Purple Rain; Sinéad and No One Compares to You (also written by THE Purple One.) Purple Rain was all the rage. We giggled about Dirty Nikki and “masturbating in a magazine”. We knew (and sang) every single word of When Doves Cry.

What I’ve written so far is just to show that Prince has been a mainstay of my music listening life for…forever. There is not a period of my life which is absent of Prince and his influence.

The first college I attended, I became “friends” with a white girl who I remember saying “it takes a real man to wear heels”. She meant Prince. She may (or may not) have been familiar with (or cognizant of)  James Brown wearing heels but regardless, Prince spoke to her enough that she recognized something about HIM that spoke to her and enabled her to speak out when her friends said he was gay (back when that was a “bad” word).

I could write more and probably will but for now, let His Purple Highness speak for himself, as he did so, so well!