Reflections: Prince: Survivor, Icon

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    There are some artists who are so firmly established, have such a long history, are so representative of an era, have influenced so many others, and are so much still capable of creating excitement on stage, that they stand apart from whoever is out there now and whatever the new fad or trend may be.

    For example, if Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand and Smokey Robinson never made another record, or never had another hit, it would matter little. They would still deserve a standing ovation just for walking into the room. They have nothing to prove.

    Prince is like that too. He is, in essence, bigger than life. Recent albums (“Planet Earth,” “3121,” “Musicology,” etc.) do not come close to matching his great earlier work, artistically or commercially (“1999,” “Controversy,” “Purple Rain,” etc.). Then too, we could do without his tossing J.W. religious beliefs into songs and interviews.

    But Prince is an awesome artist, and only a few others are even in his league.

    And here is an interesting quote from Prince: “I never really got off much on awards. I think they are more for the people who give them and for the fans.”

    Spoken like a true artist.

    ANOTHER genuine artist is Rachelle Ferrell, but where is she? We know she still works, but her last studio album, “Individuality (Can I Be Me?)” was released ten years ago! We hope it’s not because the unique jazz/R&B songstress can’t get a record deal, and that does often happen to artists who are “outside the box.”

    My favorite Rachelle Ferrell song is “With Open Arms” from 1994 from her self-titled album that eventually reached the 500,000 sales mark and was subsequently certified Gold.

    Technology is basically a good thing, but not when it creates sounds that are less than authentic. One example is Auto-Tune, the audio processor that corrects pitch in vocal performances. In essence, Auto-Tune hides off-key singing; it can alter the human voice to the point of it being a distortion. The equipment can be used both in the studio and on stage. It works on instrumental performances as well.

    What a cop-out! One way or another, the truth is going to come out. As the Ashford-Simpson composition put it (excuse the bad grammar), “Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing.”

    LeToya Luckett, formerly of Destiny’s Child and now a successful solo artist, makes her film debut in a movie titled “Preacher’s Kid” which should be in theaters at the end of this month. There is also a Detroit connection: The movie also features gospel songstress Kiki Sheard, hit-making daughter of Karen Clark-Sheard of the Clark Sisters.

    ONE OF THE worst looking couples in show business is gangsta rapper/actor Ice-T (real name: Tracy Morrow) and his wife, Coco. She has a huge “chest,” an oversized behind and always dresses in a way that is supposed to be sexy, but comes across as trashy. And Ice-T is as proud as he can be.

    We hear that Detroit real estate tycoon Herb Strather recently took his investors on a Celebrity Heat Wave Cruise, with entertainment by Freda Payne, the Dramatics and the Four Tops. Among those spotted aboard the ship were Rosalind Ashford-Homes and Annette Beard-Helton of the original Vandellas, former Supreme Scherrie Payne, Charles Davis of Joe Billingslea’s Contours and Laura Lee.

    Don’t expect husband and wife Jay-Z and Beyoncé to ever be singing “the broke blues.” Forbes magazine, which accurately keeps track of such matters, reports that they are the top-earning couple in entertainment. Between them they made $122 million from July 2008 to July 2009.

    Speaking of money, Tina Turner had one of the top ten concerts tours of 2009, taking in a whopping $86,372,137 at the box office.

    An “A-Team” movie is being made and 20th Century Fox wanted Mr. T from the hit TV show of the 1980s to reprise his role as B.A Baracus, but he said “no  thanks.” The movie hits theaters in June. And in case you didn’t know, Mr. T’s real name is Laurence Tureaud.

    BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that L.T.D., the name of the very popular band that featured Jeffrey Osborne, was an acronym for Love, Togetherness and Devotion.

    MEMORIES: “A Night to Remember” (Shalamar), “Feel Like Makin’ Love” (Roberta Flack), “One Less Bell to Answer” (the 5th Dimension), “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” (Rod Stewart), “Groovin’” (the Young Rascals), “Love is Strange” (Mickey and Sylvia), “The Other Woman” (Ray Parker Jr.), “B-A-B-Y” (Carla Thomas), “On Broadway” (George Benson), “Solid” (Ashford & Simpson).

    BLESSINGS to Lydia Nance Adams, Danton Wilson, Janice Wilson, Ron Banks, Brenda Perryman, Mary Grace Wilbert, Leonia Lloyd, Maxine Stevenson, Sharon Parr, Robert Brown, Dennis Archer and Damon Williams.
    WORDS OF THE WEEK: “The road to success is dotted with tempting parking places.”

    Let the music play!

    (Steve Holsey may be reached at and P.O. Box 02843, Detroit, MI 48202.)


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