ON HOW HER  ALBUM ‘MILK AND HONEY’ CAME ABOUT:

I started out as part of the house band for the afterparties for award shows. From there, I kept singing. We never knew what any day would look like. One day I got a call when I was in rehearsal,  saying we need you to come to Paisley. That’s how everything started. I didn’t ask any questions. I kept going to Paisley and I guess he was just studying me and he asked me if I wanted to record an album and we started working on it. He said he never intended to record an album but that I’d become his muse. I was like ‘What is a muse?’ and he was like ‘Look It up!” [Laughs]

ON WHAT HAPPENED WITH HER ALBUM NOT COMING OUT:

I own all the masters to that record and we’re trying to strategically plan things now so that people can hear it. Thank God for the industry that Prince spawned for the independent [artists]. I’m excited to have more control. I want to put the focus on the body of work that I’ve done with one of the greatest legends of all time.

He terminated his deal with Universal, that’s it in a nutshell. A lot of time people don’t tell you everything from both sides. You can’t take it personal because there are things you are not privy to and maybe for your protection. Prince didn’t like [record] labels. He just didn’t. So all right, it didn’t come out, it hurts, it sucks, but what are we doing next?

ON WORKING WITH PRINCE:

He was definitely a teacher. He was a colleague, he was a friend, he would be an uncle at times, he would be a big brother, he’d be a little brother you’d be upset with and you’d have to let him know he weren’t nice. It shocked a lot of the former Prince people that were hurt in the process that we had the dynamic we did.

There were different generations working with him. You can’t judge people off what they did when they were younger. People forget he was human. The things we think may give someone satisfaction and joy may come through a different route. I think our relationship was helped by him seeing my family oriented lifestyle. He flew my father out to L.A. so he could come see the show before we took it on tour. That’s who he was.

ON FINDING OUT HE WAS GONE:

It took every ounce of air out of me. I pulled over and my phone started blowing up. I declined every interview request until weeks later. Everyone who worked with him will tell you, we really thought the dude would be here until 80. We thought he was immortal. We did.

ON WHAT SHE MISSES MOST ABOUT PRINCE:

I miss hearing him laugh. I miss when he would be ten steps ahead of me and then I would be ten steps ahead of him. And then he would try to be ten steps ahead of me again. [Laughs] I miss us ironically wearing the same colors for the tour – we’d show up in the same colors for a show.

I enjoyed going to the [Kingdom] Hall with him and talks about the Bible with him. I enjoyed watching Tyler Perry with him. He was so good with kids – when he saw Larry Graham’s grandkids, he would just light up. I miss him and Larry talking. I miss hearing how he thought – he had an interesting thought process. He operated in such wisdom. You have a whole generation of people operating independently [in music] because of him. You gotta give him props.

ON BEING AN INDIE ARTIST: 

It’s challenging because the industry looks at numbers more than ever. I can thank God because I kept going. I actually stopped music for a while. But I did keep going by using my gifts and in the Tyler Perry world, that put me on the map for the younger generation. It’s hard because you don’t have more Princes who see the Mya’s and the Shanice’s. It’s been a struggle.

I didn’t realize how many people knew me, but it’s different because the influence of Prince is all they see. I wasn’t just a background singer with Prince. I couldn’t video all the stuff that I did; if I could have what would life look like now? [But] it’s an advantage because people are looking for the live, real experience now,  and singers who can bring it, especially internationally. I’m still making great money using my gift.

ON PRINCE’S LEGACY:

I don’t think he’d be happy with people using his name to promote concerts in his memory. I think he’d think that people should use his name to now do what they really want to do. What I think he would be happy with is if we were all onstage together – everyone that has worked with him. If everyone could put the egos aside for a strategic alliance even for one night, that would be wonderful. I think he’d still be calling people up telling them ‘I like your music.’ I think he would like Leon Bridges and Lucky Daye and he was already a fan of Eryn Allen Kane.  I think he’d be really proud of my book. But then try to tell me what I should add to it.

 

PHOTO: Jeremy Pope/provided by Tamar Davis

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Remembering Prince Through the Years
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