For Lisa Coleman, L.A.’s sixth annual Nightshift Labor Day Music Fest was something she could relate to. Not only was she playing in her hometown with surviving members of Prince’s most famous group, the Revolution; but as a television composer for series such as “Shades of Blue,” “Heroes” and “Nurse Jackie,” she’s quite familiar with burning the midnight oil.
The event marked the end of the legendary band’s tribute tour — for now.
“It’s been the most incredible experience of my life because it’s so personal,” Coleman said. “It wasn’t born out of the professional need to promote an album or to sell anything. It just happened out of grief and the need to be together.”
On the road, they found that the public’s desire was just as strong.
“We were all struggling to try to deal with the passing of somebody that we just loved … so much … and who was such a huge part of our lives. So it’s been emotional growth for all of us. A lot of fans that come say that it was church — rock and roll church.”
Coleman was awakened with the news of her mentor’s death by her wife.
“When she said Prince died I was absolutely convinced that was a mistake,” Coleman said. “The first thing I did was reach for my phone and texted Bobby Z. He texted back and said, ‘He’s gone’ and I just fell apart. I’m still in shock. Bad day.”
When asked what words from their royal highness impacted her most, the first thing that came to mind was his comment while they were recording vocals on “Dance Electric” for Andre Cymone.
“I’ve always been really shy as a singer,” she admitted. “Prince said, ‘Man, I could listen to your voice all day.’ No one has ever really said that and I still hear it in my head. That gave me so much confidence and it felt so good. I’ve been a lot braver about singing in my life and I think he gave me that.”
The 57 year-old keyboard master professes to having viewed “Purple Rain” probably a million times.
“It’s kind of like seeing old home movies,” Coleman said. “I’m like, Wow. Look at how young Morris [Day] is.’ Or ‘Look at me without any wrinkles on my face.’ But I gotta say the music’s still really good. The sequences and lighting still look really cool.”
In fact, Prince let her and then-partner Wendy Melvoin hold the Oscar from that film for years.
“He said, ‘Here, you can take it.’ That was like incredible. It was just sitting around the house. Then about 10 years ago, somebody called and said Prince wants his Oscar. I was like Dammit! Oscar? He’s not here right now. Ok.”
Coleman was wowed when Tasty Clips shared Jay Z’s lyrics for “Caught Their Eyes,” the track from his new release “4:44” lambasting lawyer Londell McMillan and the estate.
“That’s heavy duty and so sad,” she said. “We went to Paisley Park on the anniversary to play the celebration and it was so difficult walking in there. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings and stuff, but I really don’t think Prince would be into what they’re doing over there. It’s not good. It’s not right.
“Look, it’s hard when somebody dies. You know everybody goes crazy and wants to own that person. It’s really a strange thing. It happens in families and this is no exception. People don’t know how to handle it and it just becomes a fight over ownership of that person, that person’s things, the person’s memories. It’s a natural part of grief, but it’s really not healthy.
“People have to not get stuck in that phase and move through it into the acceptance and celebration of that person’s life. We’ll get there, but you got to try to understand different people do things different ways. You’ve got to love them anyway.”
Coleman wanted to go on the record with not really having a problem with future releases such as the stellar “Purple Rain” soundtrack reissue with its never-before-heard tracks, outtakes and concert footage.
“It just makes me nervous to think of other people going in and deciding what could be released and what’s finished and things like that,” she said. “We feel protective of that work and we would want to make sure that it’s what we think Prince would agree to — like if anything needed to be spruced up or overdubs or a background vocal or just mixed nicely. That’s the only thing. I’m excited to have it all heard though. I think it’s great.”
She laughed when asked what she would do differently in retrospect.
“I don’t think I’d change anything,” Coleman replied. “It wasn’t very pleasant when the band broke up, though. I would change that. Do over!”
CLIPPETTES: M.C. Hammer returns with Keyshia Cole, Goapele, V Bozeman and Oakland Fight Club to perform at Staples Center Sept. 8; while Teen Choice Awards winner Leroy Sanchez presents selections from his new EP “Elevated” at the El Rey …
Faith Evans leads Baldwin Hills Crenshaw’s 70th Anniversary Celebration on Sept. 9 in the Sears Lot. Also that evening, Booker T’s Stax Revue tops the Hollywood Blues Bash at the Ford Theatres; and R&B group Next leads the bill at the Regent Theatre …
Steve Winwood and Mavis Staples co-headline an evening at the Hollywood Bowl on Sept. 13.
TC ON TV: Sept. 8 – “EIF Presents: XQ Super School Live”: Viola Davis and Julius Tennon are exec producers of this education special airing across the major networks with Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hanks, Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Hudson and others. “Us Weekly’s Famous Feuds” (Reelz): Mariah vs. Eminem; Katy vs. Taylor.
Sept. 9 – “Oprah’s Master Class” (OWN): LL Cool J.
Sept. 10 – “The Deuce” (HBO): James Franco stars as twin brothers navigating in the early ‘70s NYC underworld. Maggie Gyllenhall, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Method Man and Lawrence Gilliard Jr. round out the cast of this David Simon series.
Sept. 12 – “Hand in Hand”: A Benefit for Hurricane Harvey Relief across major networks with Houston native Beyoncé, Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney and many more. “Big Freedia Bounces Back” (Fuse): You already know!!! Newly sober after battling legal troubles, the Queen Diva is determined to take her career to the next level.
Sept. 13 – “Foreman” (Epix): The heavyweight boxing champion, who became a beloved millionaire entrepreneur after losing the title to Muhammad Ali, is profiled.
TASTY QUIP: “There’s one word I hate in all scripts in Hollywood at the moment in describing women, and that is the word ‘badass.’ That word has just crept into every script that is pushed around this town now. It’s terrible, because it doesn’t mean anything. It’s a dumb male writer’s way of saying, ‘Ah, uh, she’s like, she, uh, she’s tough.’ Then straight after that it’s like, ‘She’s badass, but she’s got a beauty about her. And she’s sexy. Unconsciously sexy.’” – TESSA THOMPSON to the LA Times
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @tastyclips.