When an event opens with a heartfelt message by President Barrack Obama, you know something big is about to ensue. Though POTUS wasn’t actually physically present at Thursday night’s highly anticipated Prince tribute concert, a slew of musical legends were in attendance ready to pay homage to the gone-too-soon icon and innovator.
The concert took place in Prince’s home state of Minnesota, at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, and artists closest to the late musician performed to a sold out arena of 18,000 purple-clad fans.
The night began with Obama’s pre-recorded message where he stated, “Thank you, Prince, for all the great works you have done. You will be in our hearts forever.”
One of Prince’s childhood friends, Morris Day, along with his band, The Time, then took the stage to play a number of their hits including “Jungle Love,” which Prince wrote for the band under a pseudonym.
The night’s lineup also included Tori Kelly and Prince’s backing bands The NPG and 3rd Eye Girl. X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger was there to cover “Nasty Girl” a hit originally released by Prince’s proteges, Vanity 6, in 1982. Former backing singer Marva King enlivened the audience with “Kiss,” and singer/songwriter, Judith Hill, played piano in a rendition of “How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore.”
Even Prince’s ex-wife, choreographer Mayte Garcia, recreated a part of Prince’s 1993 Act I tour by performing a sensuous belly-dance.
Christina Aguilera, John Mayer and Anita Baker were also all set to perform, but ultimately pulled out at the last minute citing “vocal injury,” a “change of schedule” and an injury, respectively. Aguilera was replaced by power vocalist, Jessie J, who performed “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
However, one of the evening’s highlights was undoubtedly Chaka Khan performing a few tracks with Steve Wonder. Together they did a duet of “I Feel for You” (Wonder on the harmonica, of course) which Khan had famously covered in 1984, but was originally a single off Prince’s debut album. They then segued into a rendition of “1999” which had the crowd on their feet dancing and clapping along.
The night concluded with 66-year-old Wonder giving a moving speech about how he would “miss Prince forever” before performing the night’s final song — his own legendary funk hit, “Superstition.”
Of course, following this last tune, purple confetti fell from the ceiling and the familiar sound of “Purple Rain” rang through the venue.
Prince’s younger sister, Tyka Nelson, described the concert as a means for the public to “get some closure” following her brother’s untimely death. “It takes time to kind of get over it,” she said, “And I see that they are grief-stricken.”
She followed this sentiment by declaring there will “definitely” be more concerts in the future.