For many Minnesota artists, musicians, and fans alike, Prince, even in death, remains a very popular and well versed name.
The Minnesota legend still holds strong among the ‘purple’ family that celebrates his legacy. In honor of the famous musician, the Prince Legacy Henderson Project, Inc., a nonprofit organization in Henderson, hosted its second annual Prince Festival.
The Prince Legacy Henderson Project, started in 2018, was based on the ties that Prince has to Henderson, as the “That Ain’t Lake Minnetonka” scene in the 1984 movie “Purple Rain” was filmed just outside of town and along the Minnesota River.
The festival, which took place during the week of Prince’s birthday (June 7), featured “Chase and Ovation,” a 12-year running, Minneapolis-based and world famous live musical tribute band exclusively performing, “A Salute to the Music of Prince!” and was the kickoff concert to the festival’s events, June 5. DJ Alphonso Starr, a San Francisco native, partnered with Prince’s Paisley Park family, and was the entertainment from First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, bringing the purple party to the streets of Henderson on Thursday evening.
Thursday’s entertainment at the Henderson Event Center continued the Prince Festival with ”Martin Kember and the Unit.” Kember, a former “Color Me Badd” vocalist also brought a special guest to the stage — ‘Jellybean’ Johnson, Prince’s 1981 ‘Time’ drummer.
Jellybean and Kember gave a soul-filled show to event goers that evening. The festival had a spectacular turnout on Saturday for the Prince Tribute Art Show and talent show, with artists featuring purple inspired clothing and jewelry, ornaments, memorabilia, artwork and paintings, as well as local inspired work by artists as young as 15 years old.
Local tribute artist, Amira Mendoza, a Le Sueur-Henderson High School freshman, showed a larger than life vinyl music album mural of Prince, noting that the mural took her more than 50 hours to create.
“The mural would have taken a lot less time, but since it was my first attempt at doing such a large format and working with materials I was not completely familiar with, it took some getting used to and making a couple of mistakes along the way before I got the hang of it all,” said Mendoza.
Mendoza chose her subject matter after being given a large collection of vinyl albums and wanted to incorporate them into her art somehow. She knew she wanted to create her project based on Prince or Kurt Cobain, and decided to portray Prince, as a Minnesota based legacy and major influence in Mendoza’s life, but also in the work of other Minnesota based music and artistic performers lives.
Michael Allen, a Lakeville, Iowa artist, returned to Henderson for the second year to show and sell his repurposed purple artwork. A former bodyguard for Prince in the late 90s, Allen ended up at the event last year, selling a truckload of his art and decided to return for a second year as an exhibitor.
“Working for an auction company, I find a lot of interesting stuff and have recreated iconic memorabilia, including famous icons, such as Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elvis Presley, and I make it ‘purple’ for Prince events, as well,” said Allen.
Joel King, the Prince Legacy Henderson Project, Inc. founder and president, formerly worked very closely with Prince. King, a retired Hollywood cinematographer, did music videos and was a cameraman for Graffiti Bridge and worked with Prince for many years.
After retiring and moving to the area, King was contacted by county officials, asking if he would coordinate a project to do a memorial bench in honor of Prince in 2018. This led to the mural project that now covers the east end of main street’s ‘Healing Hub’ and faces the Henderson Event Center and RoadHaus Pub and Eatery.
Limo rides were available during Saturday festival events, taking event guests to the movie sites along the river. Detroit natives and die-hard Prince fans Maretta Colvin, Angie Bradley, Sharon Davis, and Erlinda Garcia ended up in Henderson, just by accident, during their four-day vacation to Minneapolis to visit Paisley Park and other Twin City Prince tour sites.
“We have been planning to take this trip together for a year now,” explained Bradley. “We knew we wanted to tour Paisley Park, visit the different sites throughout Minneapolis that are iconic to the Purple Rain movie and when we learned that the ‘Lake Minnetonka’ scene was filmed in Henderson, we headed down here, not knowing that this tribute event was taking place today.”
The four women were excited to have happened upon Saturday’s events and found it extra special to be able to see the movie sites while riding in style in a Chrysler 300 stretch limo. Prince aficionado and Minneapolis tour expert, Kefle Callender narrated the tour stops and recreated each movie scene with YouTube videos of the locally filmed Purple Rain scenes.
Talent show winners, board chairpersons Joel King, Ray Reardon, and Jerome Newsom, mural artist Moises Suriel, Prince’s cousin Sammy G, and musician Johnny Rogers commemorated Prince’s 61st birthday by releasing two doves over the classic Little Red Corvette mural and was celebrated with a one of a kind rendition of “When Doves Cry” by Blue Felix lead singer Toxsick Tripp (Jake Crooks) and Enemy X’s Steve Tramert on guitar. The two artists collaborated and redid their own rendition of the famous Prince song and set the scene for a very pleasant and well attended commemoration in honor of Prince Rogers Nelson.
Saturday’s events were celebrated throughout the day and well into the night with a collaborative concert by Jerome Newsom with “Made N MN”; and Johnny Rogers, “The Purple One Lives On.”
“People just want to keep coming to see and honor Prince. Even in death, his legacy lives on. His fans want to keep living the Prince experience,” said Rob Reardon, project board member. “This year’s event has grown significantly in its second year. Prince still brings people together, even now. The connections and walks of life and places that people come from to take place in and be a part of the Prince tribute is both an honor and a privilege to watch and be a part of.”