Some of Newcastle’s best musos will come together on Thursday May 26, at a “secret location”, to pay tribute to one of their biggest influences, Prince.
We caught up with the man behind the project, Gianni Michelini for a Q and A.
NL: Why a prince tribute?
Gianni Michelini: I have personally been a massive Prince fan since I have been a child with my older sisters playing Purple Rain on repeat. Prince was actually one of my first teachers in crafting a song, arrangement, artistry and performance. I have used him as the template of excellence I only wish I could get close to.
I have had the opportunity to song write and work with a few members of the Prince alumni like Sheila E, Paul Peterson, Ricky Peterson and Miko Weaver.
We also jumped on stage at a Prince concert a few years back and he touched my wife’s pregnant belly and blessed the baby – who now has an afro – Thanks Prince – hahaha!!
I’m a director at Studios 301 Sydney and Diamonds and Pearls was recorded there so I feel a constant Prince attachment through not only his music but also the universe bringing us together- I sound like I’m in love- hahaha! I guess I believe if you’re a music lover or musician and you don’t respect Prince then you have get on the Prince train.
NL: Tell us about the band you’ve put together for the show?
I am extremely excited by the band. I have assembled a 12-piece band with not only some of the best musicians in town but passionate Prince fans themselves. It’s almost impossible to pay tribute to the songs and the man for me without going over the top. You want to know who is in the band then you have to come to the show!! I also have my favourite DJ playing Prince all night for the ultimate dance party!! The arrangements are pure Prince
NL: Who have you got lined up to sing?
I have some incredible singers and once again I can’t give away too much but I’m keeping the tradition of Prince and only revealing what I have to. I will say no corners have been cut from lighting; musicians, venue and it will be a fun night.
NL: We know the venue remains a tightly guarded secret, but can you give us any hints?
It’s very Prince!! Those who are fans of Prince know that when he did his thousands of after show gigs he would turn up at random or send a text out. The venue is not known by many and is extremely lavish and beautiful. I want people who come to feel the mystic energy that pertains to Prince and this is reflected in the way the venue will be presented. HINT – It’s in Newcastle.
NL: What songs can we expect to hear on the night?
You will hear the hits and some B-sides of course. Some songs will be hits that other artists have covered and the public don’t realise is even a Prince song.
NL: Are we going to see any Prince inspired 80s fashion?
YES!! Dress 80’s or at the least you MUST have something PURPLE on from a scarf, hat, shirt or even a cat suit if you like. The more eccentric the better I say- this is the 80’s!!!
NL: What was the first prince song you remember hearing?
I grew up on early Prince “ I wanna be your lover”, “ Soft and Wet”! The thing that made me fall in love with his music was “ Purple Rain” when I saw the movie and heard the music it lit a fire along with MJ that made me choose music as a life. I didn’t understand your soul could be heard until I discovered his music.
NL: What’s your favourite Prince song?
Do I have to pick 1? “ Purple Rain” – the immense emotion, guitar solo, outro – kills me every time even after all these years.
NL: Why do you think Prince’s music resonated with so many people over so long?
Prince is music!! It’s pop that is as hooky as can be and it makes people want to dance, cry and sing along. Prince is one of the greatest musicians and artists to ever live, he could play 20 instruments, write, perform, sing and always paid homage to his heroes every gig through their covers. People all conform to be accepted into society and not become an outcast but Prince embodied what an artist should be which is mysterious and all about the art of music. Art is not defined by gender, style, conformity or limitations – and to me that is the quintessential definition of Prince. Real music is timeless! Can you get sick of The Beatles, Hendrix, MJ, Queen, and Prince – absolutely not, so his music will surpass time and generations!!
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