The Sunday Listens: Prince's Prodigies

                    Prince and Sheila E.  A fruitful musical relationship!

Social media has been stretching my phone's data limits this week with retrospectives on the prolific career of Prince.  Maybe you've noticed?  I can't help but click with endless fascination.  Yes, he was a great and uncompromising artist (the kind I like best), but I'm not gonna pretend that I was super fan just because he has passed.  

Nope, my appreciation of him came much later in my life, and by then I was more interested in getting to know other musicians' catalogs.  No offense, Prince, I swear.  We just weren't timed together well.

I was really young when he was big news.  In fact, the song I'm most familiar with is "Cream" - and only because it was hard to ignore that video on MTV - the buttless pants!  That factoid alone dates me.

However, I knew that Prince was super amazing, and I also knew that he inspired some equally amazing artists.  That became something I was more tied to.

When I first saw a video of Janelle Monae, I immediately saw a connection to Prince.  She's plays with androgyny and character onstage.  She also plays some funky guitar and is from the midwest.  She recently said it best herself though, "He stood for the weirdos."  


Sheila E was THE example of badass women drummers for a very long time.  Now there are many more out there, but as a teenager in the 90's I was desperate for examples of women who could rock it hard.  My mom was the one to tell me about her - that's how famous she became making music with Prince.  Here she is shredding.  You can hear the strong influence of her Latin roots, but also her ability to hold down a solid groove when need demands - and need usually does demand.

I've been following the career of Esperanza Spalding for a long time.  She comes out of the jazz tradition, but her most recent album struck me as weird in a very Prince way.  The entire album is presented as a character piece, "Emily D+Evolution".   She grooves on the electric bass while singing from her soul.  Messages of love, something Prince would approve of.

I did a google search, just to see if she was indeed acquainted with Prince and found that he had invited her to perform at BET's tribute to Prince (in 2010, I believe).  Sadly, I couldn't find any decent videos of her performing his "If I Was Your Girlfriend".  I did, however, find TLC's version and it's pretty amazing.  Oh Left Eye!  Oh Prince!  RIP!

Let's hear it for the weirdos!  What do you think?  Any Prince prodigies that should be added to the list?

Let me know in the comments below.