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Music Icon Terry Lewis Talks “Super Bowl Live,” Reppin’ Minnesota & More [Interview]

Music Icon Terry Lewis Talks “Super Bowl Live,” Reppin’ Minnesota & More [Interview]

Music Icon Terry Lewis Talks “Super Bowl Live,” Reppin’ Minnesota & More [Interview]
Photo Credit: Paul Morigi / Getty Images for BET
Music Icon Terry Lewis Talks “Super Bowl Live,” Reppin’ Minnesota & More [Interview]
Photo Credit: Damian Dovarganes

TL: What we did was take a roll call of all the artists that were booked and tried to design something. If you were a fan of a genre, when you came down for any night, you would be satisfied with what you like. Then, it became so populated that we were able to make nights of just single things, like with the first night being the country night, tomorrow is the hip-hop night with the local hip-hop scene which we have. A lot of people don’t know, but the vibe in hip-hop Minneapolis’ scene is very self-organized. Beats and Rhymes has been one of them. Then we have a gospel night, a Prince tribute night, and more free bands every night like Flyte Tyme and Stokely and Mint Condition.

Then, we go back to the original roots of things with Andre Cymoné. He was in the original Grand Central band, which was the band that Prince came from and Morris [Day] came from. Then, you make it all the way to Saturday night where we just have rock. In between that, you have groups like KING, who was Grammy nominated last year. Then, there are some of the ones that are near and dear to my heart like a bunch of kids here called the Rich Kids. They are part of an organization called Beats and Rhymes. It’s just a beautiful thing.

OKP: It seems like this event is going to really showcase the impact of the Minneapolis sound on this nation. Do you feel the same way?

TL: I feel that way. I feel like the impact that Minnesota has had on the music community of the world is great and pretty much understated. Anywhere that we go, we find the music of Minneapolis has influenced the musicians in that territory. That’s an amazing feeling. There is nothing greater for a musician to have music that speaks for you no matter what the language is and make people want to be a part of it. That’s the ultimate goal. It’s actually better than having a hit.

OKP: What would you attribute your longevity to as a production team?

TL: Longevity is always attributed to being ever open to change and never closed to criticism. I guess, in a single word, freedom. We’ve never governed each other in terms of what we liked or disliked or even wanted to do. If Jimmy wants to do something, or if I want to do something, we just do it. We don’t have to ask permission. Whether we agree totally or not. Being able to share longevity with someone is equally as important.

OKP: What do you think you and Mr. Harris’s influence has been on the next generation of Minneapolis musicians such as Mint Condition and many others that will be performing this week?

TL: Well, I think, the biggest influence you can have is, just to give an opportunity to people from your community, so that other people can see them as they saw us. Musically, I don’t know how I can say we’ve influenced them, but I can say that we gave them opportunity; an opportunity to be seen and heard.

OKP: What is the legacy of the Twin Cities in the canon of Black music?

TL: The legacy of Minnesota music goes way back. But in contemporary time, the biggest legacy to be held here is Prince. Prince put Minneapolis on the map as a city, a music community, and in a movie. It even trickles down to the venues like First Avenue. People know when they come to Minneapolis, there’s First Avenue because of music and a film that was about music in the music community of Minneapolis. There were so many different venues back in the day, when were growing up, that we could never play at.

First Avenue was one of them because they were predominantly white, and they would only allow rock. Then, it started to open up later on in the late ’70s and early ’80s. We got to play 7th St. Entry, but never in the big room. It finally opened up, and we were in the big room. Music solved a lot of racial issues. It just allowed us all to be one big community who rooted for each other.

OKP: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask about Prince performing at the Super Bowl 11 years ago. When he was playing “Purple Rain,” it started raining. It was one of those moments, in Super Bowl history, that penetrated beyond just traditional football fans. It’s one of those memories that many people will cherish forever. It’s amazing what the combination of sports and music can do, and the changes it can have on our society.

TL: Yes, I absolutely agree. That was one of the greatest performances ever. It was like he phoned that into God, and said, “Hey, on cue, my man, on cue. I want you to turn the rain on right when the lights turn purple. That’s when I will be doing my solo.” I couldn’t believe it. I toured with Prince for probably three years. He was always awesome, but that night, he was just incredible. I couldn’t believe it. It took my breath away. For me, it’s definitely the best Super Bowl performance ever.

OKP: Yes, I would have to agree, and I would probably put Whitney Houston’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” right underneath his performance.

TL: Yeah. One of the things I know about Prince, he played live. People can say what they want, he was not out there lip syncing. He did his thing.

OKP: There is no doubt about that. Is there anything else that you would like to mention about the event?

TL: No. I can tell you that night one was a blast and we plan to have nine more. It was great to see a lot of my friends and fellow musicians, and great to get on stage with a lot of my original band members from Flyte Tyme with Cynthia Johnson, and she did “Funkytown” and that was fun. I just look forward to a brilliant nine days in entertainment, fellowship, and mutual admiration.

Chris Williams is a Virginia-based writer whose work has appeared in The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, Red Bull Music Academy, EBONY, and Wax Poetics. Follow the latest and greatest from him on Twitter @iamchriswms.

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