Jazz artists among Prince’s favorites in upcoming tour

He didn’t reveal tour itinerary details at the press conference. Yet, by now you know what time it is. Prince is still a powerful force in the music industry. His finger has never left the pulse of American culture.

And does he know how to drum up necessary drama, or what? Whenever Prince talks to the press, it’s a major event. Wherever, whenever Prince plays, it’s a party.

Following an introduction by BET Executive Vice President of Entertainment & Music Programming Stephen Hill, wearing a black velvet jacket and aviator sunglasses, Prince was vague on purpose when he held a press conference at Harlem’s historic Apollo Theater to announce his new “Welcome 2 America,” tour.

“Welcome,” Prince said to the audience, “We’re here in New York to announce a series of events that will begin on a purple day in December 2010.” The Minneapolis native said that “Welcome 2 America” could best be described as what we’ve all been waiting for.

The conference, just under two minutes, took place Thursday, October 14. The 52-year-old multi-instrumentalist said that he will perform and serve as master of ceremonies at multiple nights of entertainment featuring “some of the best artists this country has to offer.”

The list of acts include, but are not limited to, his “new favorite artist” Janelle Monáe, fellow Minneapolis hometown talent Mint Condition, Maceo Parker, Sheila E., “the new face of jazz and classical music” Esperanza Spalding and jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson, who he says continues to “haunt” him, plus Sinbad, Lalah Hathaway and Graham Central Station.

Prince will play his own music with the New Power Generation and alongside his featured acts. Prince’s affinity for jazz is well-known, yet it’s relevant that he has wisely chosen to promote jazz artists in the lineup. Prince’s father John L. Nelson was a jazz musician.

I love the hybrid diversity of this bill. He could have called the tour, “Just Good Music.”

Back in July 2009, Prince performed two shows at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Mint Condition and Larry Graham performed together at the Minnesota Zoo in July. Monáe and Hathaway, among others, are featured on the For Colored Girls… motion picture soundtrack to be released on November 2 by Atlantic Records.

Monáe is nominated for two 2010 Soul Train Awards (airs Nov. 28 on Centric and BET).

“Come early and come often,” Prince said, during his closing remarks. “No concert is ever the same. Bring your friends, bring your children, and bring foot spray, ’cause it’s going to be funky.”

Prince didn’t reveal a kickoff date or information about what venue in which he would perform. MTV reported that he might take up residency at the Apollo. Anybody thinking modern-day Harlem Renaissance?

After he finished addressing the crowd, Prince’s newest song, “Rich Friends,” streamed from the Apollo sound system. Several minutes of his forthcoming concert DVD, Twenty-One Nights, were screened in the background. It also was announced that Prince would be playing a special gold-plated guitar for the tour, which would be auctioned off at the end of the run to benefit the Harlem Children’s Zone.

Prince’s most recent album, 20Ten, accompanied several European publications in July, the UK’s Daily Mirror and Germany’s edition of Rolling Stone to name a few. It has not been released in the U.S. Remember Prince’s LOtUSFLOW3R/MPLSound and Elixer album credited to his new protégée, Bria Valente, a Target triple release in 2009?

Some of you may recall when 89.3 FM The Current scored the world exclusive debut for the song “Cause and Effect.”

Tony Parsons of the Daily Mirror said it best when describing the power of Prince: “He broke down barriers. The barriers between rock and soul, black and white, sex and romance, the sacred and the profane. Only the all-time greats are capable of breaking down the barriers that divide music, that separate people. Elvis did it. And the Beatles. And Michael Jackson.”

Prince was listed in Time magazine’s 2010 annual ranking of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

For the most part, like Prince, the tour remains a mystery. As of press time, no additional information regarding Prince’s tour plans have been revealed.

According to an Oct. 26 PRNewswire report, Prince will bring his Welcome
2 America show to the New York area in December. Announced dates are
Dec. 14-17, East Rutherford, NJ, Izod Center; and Dec. 18 & 29, New
York, NY, Madison Square Garden.

Tickets on sale Saturday, October 30 at 10 am and are available at
LiveNation.com. Tickets also available through Charge By Phone
(800-745-3000), select Ticketmaster locations and respective box
offices. Tickets start at $20.10 plus applicable service charges.

Robin James welcomes reader responses to jamesonjazz@spokesman-recorder.com.