Pur­ple joy as Prince hometown bids farewell

6 months later, fans still mourn

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Have you ever missed some­one so much that even the thought of them made you burst into tears? Now imag­ine that feel­ing drenched in pur­ple rain. Nearly six months af­ter the shock­ing death of Prince, some su­per­fans are still griev­ing hard, cre­at­ing tear­ful memes, snap­ping up “I Still Miss Prince” T-shirts fea­tur­ing a de­spon­dent Char­lie Brown, shar­ing pho­tos and seek­ing so­lace in an ex­plo­sion of fresh con­cert videos and un­re­leased mu­sic on YouTube.

They see no end in sight to their sad­ness, es­pe­cially with reg­u­lar Prince de­vel­op­ments in the news - de­tails on the death in­ves­ti­ga­tion, his house be­ing turned into a mu­seum and Thurs­day’s of­fi­cial trib­ute con­cert in his hometown of Minneapolis among them. Still in shock

Maria New­port still cries reg­u­larly over the loss. She broke up with her boyfriend soon af­ter Prince was found dead April 21. When she heard about it, “I just started wail­ing. Like, fe­tal po­si­tion, in my bed.” As for the boyfriend, she said he didn’t get it, in the raw mo­ment or in the weeks that fol­lowed. “He could not un­der­stand. He couldn’t un­der­stand the pain,” New­port said of the guy she had been see­ing for about a year and thought she would marry. “He would say, ‘This is the dumb­est thing ever. Like, you’ve never met this man.’” Ron Wor­thy, who lives in Brook­lyn, runs a mu­sic-fo­cused web­site, Soul­head.com, and re­calls his first en­counter with Prince’s mu­sic, lis­ten­ing to the naughty “Soft and Wet” on the ra­dio when he was a ten­der 7 years old. He knew it was about stuff grown folks do, but that and Prince’s nu­mer­ous other sex songs “ba­si­cally gave you in­struc­tions on some level on how to be vul­ner­a­ble with women, how to be a com­pe­tent and giv­ing and un­selfish lover.”

He said of the death, “I just walked around in a daze for weeks. I still cry when I hear cer­tain songs like ‘Break­down’ and ‘Adore.’”

Jazz buff Ch­eryl Emerson, at 66, doesn’t fit the tra­di­tional Prince de­mo­graphic but she, too, is still pro­foundly sad­dened by the loss. She wouldn’t let her Prince fan of a daugh­ter, Rana Emerson, see the Os­car-win­ning “Pur­ple Rain” at age 13 in San An­to­nio, Texas, ship­ping her off with her lit­tle brother to their grand­par­ents’ house so she and her hus­band could go alone open­ing week­end.

Emerson re­deemed her­self years later, when Rana - now 45 - was in her 20s. The two went to see Prince to­gether twice, and Rana three more times on her own. “My heart’s still bro­ken,” the elder Emerson said. “Why? Why wasn’t there some­one there to pre­vent it, to help him, to see what he was do­ing, to give him ad­vice?”

She was re­fer­ring to Prince’s ac­ci­den­tal painkiller over­dose at 57 af­ter decades of resid­ual pain from epic live per­for­mances that had him madly jump­ing off pi­anos, do­ing mul­ti­ple splits and - to these fans - giv­ing them every­thing he had.

Daugh­ter Rana, who works as a higher ed­u­ca­tion ad­min­is­tra­tor in New York, is also still deeply af­fected by Prince’s death but takes a lit­tle com­fort in so many de­tails that have sur­faced about the enor­mity of his phi­lan­thropy.

“What I’m feel­ing, I know it’s not go­ing to pass any­time soon,” she said. While Prince’s bril­liance as a mu­si­cian is what many fans may miss most, for his de­voted fol­low­ers, his loss means some­thing more. Ch­eryl Emerson ap­pre­ci­ated

what he meant for black peo­ple, his trail­blaz­ing ways, and in par­tic­u­lar, his bat­tles for artists’ rights.

“We were proud that he was fight­ing the sys­tem when he was writ­ing slave on his face and changed his name to the sym­bol and all of that,” she ex­plained. “He was do­ing these things for other peo­ple who would come along later. Not just him­self.”

An­drog­y­nous Prince

Brooks Brown, a 44-year-old les­bian liv­ing in Al­bany, New York, re­calls be­ing drawn to the an­drog­y­nous Prince when she was grow­ing up in Alabama, ap­pre­ci­at­ing him as some­one to iden­tify with. “He was so gen­der fluid and kind of race fluid, too. I was like 11 and 12 and I felt that way a lot and felt that in him. He was so con­fi­dent,” said Brown, who is a web ad­min­is­tra­tor for an ed­u­ca­tion non­profit.

“It’s still com­ing in waves,” Brown said of her sad­ness. “It just knocked the wind right out of me when he died.” She first saw Prince live in 2004. Wor­thy saw him sev­eral times. New­port had seen him just the one time, at his fi­nal show in At­lanta, but her friend, Margo Davis, a 40-yearold hu­man re­sources man­ager, can barely count the num­ber of Prince shows she en­joyed, in­clud­ing some of his fa­mous af­ter-par­ties and con­certs all over the United States, in Lon­don and at Prince’s Pais­ley Park just out­side of Minneapolis.

Off the top of her head, she es­ti­mated more than 20. She has saved her ticket stubs. Ev­ery last one, in­clud­ing the one to Prince’s last, in­ti­mate pi­ano show in At­lanta with New­port, just a week be­fore he died. “It’s a spir­i­tual con­nec­tion for me,” Davis said. “I had to leave work when he passed. I still have days, like, it can’t be real. It’s still so hard. I couldn’t lis­ten to his mu­sic, I didn’t turn on the TV or pay at­ten­tion to any of the trib­utes. I’m fi­nally able to lis­ten, but in a very lim­ited way.”

Like Davis, New­port is also still hav­ing a hard time turn­ing on Prince’s mu­sic, but why does she think his death was dif­fer­ent? Many icons have come and gone, af­ter all. “There was a depth of un­der­stand­ing that you got when lis­ten­ing to his mu­sic that just took you to an­other place,” said New­port, along with other still-sad fans.

New­port and Davis check in with each other reg­u­larly on the Prince front. “She’ll send me a ran­dom text and say, you know, ‘To­day is just a bad one.’ And I’m, like, I get it,” New­port said, melt­ing into tears. “I don’t know how I’ll come out from un­der this cloud.”

Ana Moura per­forms dur­ing a trib­ute con­cert hon­or­ing the late mu­si­cian Prince at Xcel Arena, Thurs­day, Oct. 13, 2016.

Ni­cole Scherzinger per­forms dur­ing a trib­ute con­cert hon­or­ing the late mu­si­cian Prince at Xcel Arena, Thurs­day, Oct. 13, 2016.

Ana Moura per­forms dur­ing a trib­ute con­cert hon­or­ing the late mu­si­cian Prince at Xcel Arena, Thurs­day, Oct. 13, 2016.

Shelby J per­forms form dur­ing a trib­ute con­cert hon­or­ing the late mu­si­cian Prince at Xcel Arena, Thurs­day, Oct. 13, 2016.

Luke James per­forms dur­ing a trib­ute con­cert hon­or­ing the late mu­si­cian Prince at Xcel Arena, Thurs­day, Oct. 13, 2016.

Margo Davis poses for a por­trait as she lays next to a col­lec­tion of Prince mem­o­ra­bilia at her home.—AP pho­tos

Margo Davis, left, and Derek Web­ster comb through Davis’ col­lec­tion of Prince mem­o­ra­bilia at her home.

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