10 Bandmates and Proteges Of Prince That Aren’t Wendy, Lisa, or Sheila E.
In this post-Purple era that we’ve reluctantly begun, a number of casual Prince fans have been flocking to music outlets and purchasing his massive catalogue of music. With a discography of over 40 released albums, which will undoubtedly grow in the coming years, Prince’s musical offering is quite extensive. Beyond that, there are quite a few songs that he wrote and/or produced for other artists. While many outlets have managed to cover those songs, something that is rarely discussed are is bandmates.
We all know that over the years, Prince has had a constant shifting of bandmates from beloved Revolution to the various iterations of The New Power Generation to the most recent 3rdEyeGirl. Even beyond that, he had a list of protégé’s as well that he intended to ‘introduce’ to the world. Sometimes Prince was album to produce and release artists like Ingrid Chavez, Mayte, Jill Jones, Mavis Staples, Taja Seville, and Bria Valente. Other times his fouled relationship with Warner Brothers or other record companies dashed any possibility of an album’s release. Still, his influence and collaborations were wide ranging and numerous.
For an artist that is as talented as Prince, you can rest assure that those he selects to perform with him are equally superb. Wendy & Lisa are typically the most popular of his bandmates as are Morris Day (who was a childhood friend and bandmate) and ex-fiance Sheila E. But what about the rest? Well, here are a few that you should check out in your quest for Purple Music.
Once friend and bandmate with Beyonce and Kelly Rowland in a group named Girls Tyme, Tamar is a multifaceted talent that includes the ability to sing in French, German, Italian, and Swahili. Thanks to her acting chops, she’s also been in a number of Tyler Perry plays too. During the days of Prince’s 3121 album, Tamar was introduced to the world as a voice to remember. Featured on many of the songs as background vocals, she received a GRAMMY nomination for her Purple duet on the song “Beautiful, Loved, and Blessed”. At that time she also recorded an album that Prince produced called “Milk and Honey” that eventually dissolved thanks to industry crap-o-la. The album is probably floating around the interwebs thanks to Tamar leaking the album back in 2006. Recently, she has been seen as a contestant on The Voice, though she did not win. Still, the exposure is certain to push her towards releasing more quality music of her own.
Rhonda was a powerhouse bass player for Prince for about a decade. With an impressive jazz and funk style, Rhonda’s signature style assisted Prince for years as he dabbled with the jazz album N.E.W.S. amongst other releases. Introduced to Prince by Sheila E., she eventually teamed up with Kat Dyson (yet another Prince related bandmate), Cassandra Wilson, and Sheila in a group called Chronicles of Every Diva. Unfortunately, the powerhouse team didn’t produce an album back in 2006. Still, she has a couple of really nice jazz albums of her own called “Intellipop” and “RS2”. Each album have some great smooth and romantic songs as well as upbeat and funky ones.
Prince’s last band (aside from the latest iteration of The New Power Generation), featured American drummer Hannah Welton, Canadian guitarist Donna Grantis and Danish bassist Ida Neilson. Found by Prince via the interwebs, these three ladies put together Plectrumelectrum alongside one of Prince’s latest albums entitled Hitnrun Phase 1. Backing Prince for the last few years in his effort to revisit his love of rock and funk music, these ladies most assuredly recorded quite a bit more songs with Prince than what was released. I imagine we’ll see more from them (I hope) as a group if not just as the sound backing Prince as of late.
Michael B Nelson’s horn section ( Steve Strand, Dave Jensen, Kenni Holmen, and Kathy Jensen) was the brassy sound backing Prince all the way back to the days when he changed his name to a symbol (essentially 1991 through about 2001). Of course, this talented crew didn’t only perform with Prince, their discography credits span quite a few different artists including the Jonas Brothers, Babyface, Lenny Kravitz, Mandy Moore, Chaka Khan, Rosie Gaines, Tevin Campbell, and Carmen Electra (the last 4 were actually alongside Prince). They began to work with Prince again in the past few years via a few singles released including “Rock & Roll Love Affair”, “Groovy Potential”, and “FallInLove2nite”. Despite all of these collaborations, the legendary crew have a few of their own albums via Born 2 B Wild Records.
- NPG-Q (New Power Generation Quartet)
Billed during a Yahoo event back in 2014 as a Paisley Park (or maybe NPG Records) group, Andrew Gouche (bass), John Blackwell (drummer), and Marcus Anderson (sax) reportedly recorded an entire jazz album with Prince that has never seen the light of day. While fans had mixed reaction to the offering shown during that live stream, I personally loved it. Still, each of these musicians have a host of their own albums (Marcus in particular) as well as credits on other jazz albums that fans can devour as they wait to see if this Purple project ever sees the light of day.
Candy Dulfer is a bit like Sheila E in that she was relatively well known on her own before joining Prince’s list of tour bandmates. The gorgeous Dutch saxophonist’s debut album “Saxuality” made big waves on the pop charts and even earned her a Grammy nomination. She has gone on to release over 11 more funky and smooth jazz offerings that are excellent in and of themselves. Her style is very similar to Maceo Parker, and it was interesting to see Prince tour with her AND Maceo Parker at the same time during the 2000’s.
- Eric Leeds
As a member of Prince’s legendary jazz band, Madhouse, Eric Leeds is the saxophonist that performed during his Purple Rain days and beyond. Oftentimes during Prince’s 80’s and 90’s touring run, he would have superb moments when he’d allow Eric and whatever band was collected at the time to showcase their jazz stylings as Prince did a wardrobe change. Many times it was there that the jazzy moments of Prince’s genre defying reach would be seen as Eric would freestyle over a track laid down (probably within the vault somewhere) by Prince. With over 20 years of collaboration with the Purple one, Eric has also managed to release quite a few solo albums of his own. You can find his talents also within Prince affiliated groups’ albums The Family and Fdeluxe.
The Cameroonian singer/model/guitarist found herself a part of the New Power Generation during his Welcome 2 America tour back in 2011 before collaborating with Prince and releasing her sophomore album “Superconductor”. As an independent artist, it isn’t quite fair to call her a protégé but she was certainly a bandmate that even opened for Prince before joining the band. A talented songwriter herself, Andy Allo found herself learning from the Purple one as she established her own label Allo Evolution.
With a voice that could devastate on her own, Liv Warfield stormed onto the Purple scene backed by the New Power Generation with her album called The Unexpected back in 2014. First a background singer with the New Power Generation, her Paisley assisted sophomore album garnered her a Soul Train Award nomination for Best New Artist. While she didn’t take home the hardware, she certainly made a name for herself with stunning live performances accompanied by the skill of the New Power Generation.
If you are a fan of the various voices featured throughout Prince’s discography, you’ve definitely heard of Rosie Gaines. Most prominently featured on Diamonds and Pearls, Rosie joined the Purple history books back in the Graffiti Bridge days. Much like most of Prince’s artists on Paisley Park during these days and a bit before, she recorded a bunch of songs as a solo artist yet due to Prince’s Warner Brothers dispute, nothing was ever released. She eventually signed to Motown records to release a few albums before starting her own Dredlix Records label. Soulful and funky, Rosie’s voice is unmistakable.
R.I.P. Prince – love4oneanother