A Purple Pilgrimage: Remembering Prince In Minneapolis
Autumn, a season of transition, has arrived in Minneapolis. The leaves, a sea of orange, red and yellow, fall from trees onto green grass.
Some days are sunny, a warm breeze that settles in throughout the day, the waters of Lake Calhoun and Minnetonka swaying gently as the sun reflects off its waves.
Some days are cold, with winds so intense that serve as a reminder that, like fellow metropolitan midwest city Chicago, Minneapolis can also be unpleasantly windy.
Minneapolis was the home of Prince Rogers Nelson, better known throughout the world as Prince. He was born here, lived most of his life here and died here, a worldly man that remained a resident of the city up until his death on April 21, 2016.
What does a world without Prince look like? What does a Minneapolis without Prince look like? How does the city synonymous with one of music’s most enigmatic, larger than life personas properly mourn a man we all thought would live forever?
Well for starters — a party.
When news was announced that an official Prince tribute would happen on October 13, what followed was a series of events that led to fans across the world wondering if the event would actually occur.
The concert moved from the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis to the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul; the lineup was released only a few weeks before the concert’s scheduled date; and the last minute dropouts of headlining performers Anita Baker, Christina Aguilera and John Mayer.
To pull off a celebration of such caliber for a man that only deserved the best, it was inevitable that the tribute would endure some challenges.
But the concert served as a testament to Prince’s legacy, with fans in attendance just as important as the artists that took the stage.
A lot of people present at the concert traveled from different parts of the world for the tribute. Daree from Waterloo, Iowa; Chris from Miami, who went straight to the concert after arriving in Minneapolis two hours prior; and Joel Matos from Chicago, who dressed as Purple Rain Prince and offered his best sensual scowl as people asked him for a picture.
“He was a one man machine,” Matos says. “He did everything on his own — he played all the instruments, wrote all of the music. He was a purple music machine.”
What Prince meant to people varies. Like Matos most fans spoke to the artist’s virtuosity — how he had the ability to play almost every instrument to ever exist.
But there’s one word that Chris uses to describe him that resonates with tonight’s festivities — unifier.
“Who here is from Australia? France? The United States,” one of the performers asked throughout the night.
The 17,000 capacity center cheered triumphantly in response, as rows and rows of people danced and sang with one another to the music of Prince.
The talent that took the stage that night was a constant rotation of Prince affiliates and special guests: Morris Day & The Time; Andre Cymoné; Doug E. Fresh; Chaka Khan; Stevie Wonder; Judith Hill; Liv Warfield; and the first and last iterations of the New Power Generation.