By Bernice Elizabeth Green
We missed Spike’s celebration of Prince on Thursday, April 21, the day of his untimely death.
Spike put the word out in the afternoon of the day of his death, and within hours the world knew, and it appeared the world showed up in Fort Greene to pay homage.
The block party immediately launched “royal” love fests for the music genius all over the world, and they increase as we go to press. Put Prince and Spike Party or Prince and Tributes in any search engine. What will be revealed is a never-ending line dance.
We finally joined the dance on Sunday, realizing that Prince, a Jehovah’s Witness, who renamed soulful music (pardon us Rev. Waterman) Funk ‘n Roll, was indeed as spiritual as he was natural. We went to church, wondering if we would find Prince there. We were not disappointed. On these pages are some of Prince’s witnesses: old school, elders – folk who were bopping to his music in the midst of his reign.
We learned of Antioch Pastor Robert Waterman’s sermon on Prince’s music, and how that music can be
played in church because music he said “is beyond categorization.”
Indeed, the Antioch Baptist Choir backed up Waterman’s tribute with Prince’s Purple Reign in the form of the equally exalting “God’s Love Reigns”. We asked Bridge Street’s Pastor, the Rev. David Cousin, if he liked Prince’s music. He shared that his favorite song is, “When Dove’s Cry”. Now we know that Rev. Cuz of The Bridge can dance because his second-favorite is “Let’s Go Crazy”.
Examples of Purple Passion are all over and Brooklyn’s tributes are increasing. But there are none so poignant, so far, as Spike’s tribute.
Prince provided music for Spike’s “Girl 6”. They both love basketball. And they are both favorite artists of President Barack Obama. No surprise. For us, they, including Mr. President, represent what is regal in our perspective of
Black America. Prince, who said if he had not decided on a music career, would have been an educator. Prince, who said everyone should start listening to Dick Gregory, left a legacy that’s beyond his moving us to wear purple or to dance. Prince and Spike represent what happens in America when Black boys-turning-to-men, given the space and the time, and the support systems, can go, with all things equal.
Prince, like Spike and Obama now, was in control of his art. He produced all of his music and concerts. He owned his, and he was his own man.
Spike threw a party with just minutes to plan it, and a few hours to put it in place. That’s power. And that’s the example that young Black men need to know, and America needs to get straight.
Prince’s last concert tour was titled “Welcome 2 America”.
Where would America be without a Prince or a Spike? We missed the party but we didn’t miss the boat.