Who can sit down when pop idol Prince’s music comes on the radio? No one who gathered together at Meymandi Concert Hall to celebrate Prince’s music on what would have been his 59th birthday on Wednesday, June 7th, that’s for sure! Fans filled the hall to hear The Music of Prince, performed by the North Carolina Symphony, led by conductor Martin Herman. Guest artists included Minneapolis MN-based The Purple Xperience Prince tribute band front-man Marshall Charloff as Prince, Marcus Anderson (sax), Justin Avery (guest vocals and keyboards), and Ann Marie Castellano (background vocals). The Music of Prince was a sellout performance that rocked the hall!
Prince’s musical talent is legendary. With seven Grammy Awards® and multiple No. 1 hits, the Minneapolis native explored every musical avenue available and created several no one had previously explored. Often, he played every instrument and sang every track on his albums; and his exploration of religious, philosophical, spiritual, and sexual themes created music so controversial and original that his list of songs he was requested to not sing often rivaled his impressive list of No. 1 hits.
His career officially began in 1978 when Warner Bros. signed him, but it wasn’t until his second album dropped in 1979 that he found his first pop hit: “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” The third song that Marshall Charloff covers, it is sung in falsetto and is about treating a woman better than the man she’s with. Charloff’s falsetto is effective for the song, which was Prince’s first crossover hit.
Throughout the 1980s, Prince thrilled his audience with chart-topping hits, such as “Little Red Corvette” and “Delirious”; but he broke through the rock ceiling when the classic album Purple Rain (1984) and its accompanying film broke records. The film grossed almost $70 million at the box office and an Academy Award® for Best Original Song Score. Several of the tracks hit the Billboard Hot 100, and two (“When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy”) hit No. 1.
On Wednesday night, “Red Corvette” got the audience up and dancing; and Marshall Charloff encouraged everyone to get into the birthday-party spirit, strutting the stage and using the same movements as the iconic superstar he emulated. “Delirious” (a song Charloff stated was influenced by Elvis) had everyone, even those in the uppermost seats, rocking to the beat.
During the 1980s, Prince’s trademark curls, velvet and brocade jackets, and ruffled shirts established him as an icon of the music industry. His music continued to raise eyebrows (Tipper Gore actually pushed for warning labels on his albums, so that parents would know of graphic lyrics); but it also continued to establish him as a force with which the music world faced a reckoning. Songs such as “Raspberry Beret,” “Kiss,” and “Diamonds and Pearls” are just a few of the hits that laid the groundwork for even more breakthroughs like collaborations with Chaka Khan (“I Feel for You”) and Sinéad O’Connor (“Nothing Compares 2 U”).
Marshall Charloff was accompanied by Ann Marie Castellano’s incredibly strong and rich full voice on “Diamonds and Pearls.” The duet was sexy and flirty, and their voices both challenged each other’s and blended well. Castellano’s runs in the song bring cheers from some audience members, a well-deserved recognition of her stellar voice.
But Castellano isn’t the only great guest star in this show. Justin Avery’s cover of “How Come You Don’t Call” was sung in a gorgeous falsetto that is pure and high, fairly stunning in its clarity. With a new album (World in a Suitcase/Album #3) just released, Avery is someone to watch.
Prince’s career went through many ups and downs before he became disenchanted and changed his name to a glyph that was unpronounceable. He used the symbol until 2000, and then became known as “the artist formerly known as Prince.” Other successes included more films, a historical Super Bowl show, and his Lifetime Achievement Award from the BET Awards. His achievements are many, and he began writing about them in 2016 for his memoir tentatively entitled The Beautiful Ones.
Unfortunately, he did not see publication of that memoir. On April 21, 2016, he was found dead at his compound, the victim of a self-administered dose of fentanyl. After his death, fans across the globe created celebrations of his work, such as the tribute held at Meymandi Hall.
As Marshall Charloff says before singing “Most Beautiful Girl in the World” (a song Prince wrote for his wife), Prince’s “music was composed in the spirit of life and designed for party and movement.”
The audience had no problem getting up and moving for The Music of Prince. A special one-night event to celebrate the master musician’s birthday, it became a way of celebrating life itself. And it was also a reminder of the tremendous virtuosity of the North Carolina Symphony, a major player in this special performance. Bravo!
THE MUSIC OF PRINCE (North Carolina Symphony , June 7th in Meymandi Concert Hall in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, NC).
SHOW: http://www.ncsymphony.org/events/index.cfm?view=details&detailid=6288&eid=7326, https://www.facebook.com/events/139756579802352/, and http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/the-music-of-prince-7874.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://youtu.be/-NNpQqVBvcU.
Prince (singer, songwriter, and musician, nee Prince Rogers Nelson, 1958-2016): https://www.rockhall.com/inductees/prince (2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bio), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002239/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_(musician) (Wikipedia).
The Purple Xperience (five-piece Prince tribute band based in Minneapolis, MN): http://purplexperience.com/ (official website), https://www.facebook.com/purplexperience/ (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/purpl_xperience (Twitter page), and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnyx1gAEZSsG4kzz7lNMiAA (YouTube page).
[RUN HAS CONCLUDED.]
Dawn Reno Langley is a Durham, NC-based author who writes novels, poetry, children’s books, and nonfiction books on many subjects, as well as theater, music, and dance reviews. She is also a writer, editor, writing coach at Reno’s Literary Services of Durham. To read all of Dawn Langley’s Triangle Review reviews online at Triangle Arts and Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/dawn-reno-langle/. To read more of her writings, click http://dawnrenolangley.blogspot.com/ and http://poetryandgardening.blogspot.com/.