This week Prince releases a new album. Well, it's more thanan album. It's a three-disc set that includes two separate Prince CDs, LotusFlow3r and MPLSound, plus a record from his latest female protégé, BriaValente.
Creating opportunities for new or emerging female musicianshas been a significant part of Prince's legacy. Considering his impact inlaunching the careers of Vanity 6 and Carmen Electra to extending mainstreamplatforms for musicians Sheila E. and Wendy and Lisa, I thought it would be funto take a look back at some of the most memorable lovely ladies who have been apart of the Purple fold.
How can you not love a statuesque beauty that can play thedrums better than any guy you know? And do so while in a fur coat, high heelsand tossing the sticks into the air, catching them and staying on beat. SheliaE., the daughter of percussionist great Pete Escovedo and aunt to NicoleRichie, has always been my favorite. Her 1984 hit "The Glamorous Life" promptedyours truly to write her a fan club letter in 1987. She has remained busy recording and touring. She is the third season winner of CMT's Gone Country. Watch her video "Glorious Train" by clicking here.
Vanity 6 paved the way for the Pussycat Dolls and Lil' Kim.The 1980s female R&B group performed in lingerie, sang unapologeticallyabout lust, and was fronted by arguably the sexiest woman in music at the time.Prince's genius concept and production yielded the group the #1 dance hit"Nasty Girl." The plan was so good that when lead singer Vanity (DeniseMatthews) exited after just one album, Prince quickly replaced her and renamed the group Apollonia 6 after its new, bustier frontwoman.
Unlike many of the other women who performed with Prince,Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman mainly stayed in the background as members ofhis band The Revolution. Prince enlisted them to work on his Parade and Under The Cherry Moon albums. While Wendy & Lisa eventuallystopped working with Prince because they felt that they were not receivingproper credit for their contributions, they are said to have had significantinfluence on Prince's sound. At times, Prince would give them skeletal tracksfor them to enhance. The childhood friends who come from music industryfamilies released five albums together and currently score the NBC hit series Heroes.
Not too many artists can boast of having a song on TipperGore's Filthy Fifteen list of pop songs with objectionable messages about sex,violence, drugs or Satanism. But with the help of Prince this Scottish singerwith an otherwise clean image and catalog got a taste of the bad girllifestyle. Her song, "Sugar Walls," written and produced by Prince, was acontroversial metaphor that resonated with fans. It scored her a top 10 hit anda platinum album.
Apollonia 6 is nothing more than Vanity 6 with a differentfront woman. After Vanity left, Prince held auditions to find a replacement.Patricia Kotero not only snagged the spot, she also inherited a feature role inPrince's film Purple Rain. Though Apollonia 6 did not achieve the same heightsas Vanity 6, the group did score a solid hit with "Sex Shooter."
As Prince prepared for the release of his 2006 3121 album, Tamar Davis was in tow. Princehad heard some of Tamar's work when she was a teenager and expressed havinganother listen when she was older. He actually invited her to his studio yearslater, but still did not offer a recording deal until they met yet anothertime. Tamar provides co-lead vocals on Prince's Grammy nominated "Beautiful,Loved & Blessed," but her Prince-produced album, Milk & Honey, was never released. Tamar, who was a member of the pre-Destiny's Child group Girl's Tyme, is currently touring inthe latest Tyler Perry play The MarriageCounselor.
Prince's latest protégé Bria Valente may have the bestbenefit of all of her predecessors. Her debut album Elixer is one of the discs in Prince's new three-CD package thatincludes his two albums, LotusFlow3rand MPLSound. While Prince says thathe wanted to release Bria's record because he was tired of waiting on a new setfrom Sade, I don't hear Sade comparisons when I listened to her tracks "AnotherBoy" or "Everyday." She does have a soft, pleasant voice, but it will beinteresting to see how she fares in the marketplace.
It is unclear why Tara Leigh Patrick showed up to a Princehosted audition for a female rap group in 1994. It is even more confusing as towhy Prince signed her to a recording deal. But that's what happened. He changedher name to Carmen Electra and released her self titled rap album that was sobad that it had to embarrass Marky Mark and Vanilla Ice. However, Princeclearly had more than music talent on his mind when he met the Cincinnati, Ohionative as her deadpan music career served as a great launching pad for her rockstar path that has included a Playboyspread, stint on Bay Watch, numerousacting credits, and marriages to Dennis Rodman and Dave Navarro.
- Carmen Electra