In the midst of preparing this issue for publication, I heard that Prince Nelson Rodgers had passed away. Having lost my younger adult brother in an unexpected tragic accident in September 2015, and not knowing about his passing until several weeks later, I had to deal with a different array of emotions and memories regarding Rodgers.
Let’s be clear. I never met Prince.
I saw him for the first time on a road trip to Philadelphia from The Bronx, NY. While driving on the New Jersey Turnpike and exiting the highway to continue the trip towards the Ben Franklin Bridge, I heard on a Philly radio station (WDAS) that it was rumored that Prince was performing that evening. As I entered the City, I went directly to the “supposed” venue and asked the ticket counter person if Prince was performing there that evening. Almost in a conspiratorial way, he quietly responded in the affirmative with a tentative nod of the head. I tried to reach friends to see if they wanted to go but no phones were answered. I bought me a ticket. It was so secretive and “undercover.” I had a few hours to waste and still could not reach my friends.
The performance was scheduled to start at 8 PM. As a novice Prince fan, I got to the venue (I remember it being the Academy of Music) well before the start time, and was shocked that the hall was so empty. Was I duped? Had the venue changed?
Cutting to the chase, the hall did not start to fill up until around 9/9:30 pm and concert goers were decked out in fashion finery. I felt underdressed, a street urchin. By 10 pm, the hall was filled to capacity with folks still coming in, and then out of the blue, clapping and chants started, “Prince, Prince, Prince.” At that time, someone told me that everyone knew that Prince did not start any performance on time and the fans knew that. I felt like an interloper.
It had to be close to 10:30 pm when without fanfare or announcement and houselights still on, the band came on stage with Prince. The hall roared.
Approaching the mike with a timid hesitancy, Prince told folks that he wanted to take us through a history of his work, sort of a great hits concert and was that okay. The hall erupted with cheers and “I love you Prince.” The hall lights dimmed, and without back-up dancers, the traditional light show, and flashy costumes, he and the band rocked the house without an intermission for over 2 ½ hours. And then he did an encore for at least ½ hour.
I was emotionally and physically drained afterwards.
The last time I saw Prince live was at Madison Square Garden in NYC several years ago. He mesmerized the packed venue and gave away his latest CD. I was one of thousands of fans that went home satiated, pleased, and wanting more from Prince.
So what does the passing of Prince have to do with my Publisher’s Message?
I changed my daughter’s diapers to Prince’s music (and she is now a mother of a young daughter.) I prepared mixed tapes for decades always using Prince’s music. I drove to my first attendance at the Newport (Rhode Island) Jazz Festival listening to the latest Prince CD. I have him on vinyl, cassette tapes (even found his music on bootleg tapes sold by street vendors while traveling through Southeast Asia,) and CDs, some that were purchased directly through his website as he fought the record industry’s control of his music.
Prince’s integrity and willingness to stand on principle and forge ahead with his vision and take responsibility for whatever consequences helped shaped the way I set up aaduna…to be supportive of artists and writers, and create a collaborative environment that recognized the value of each submitter whether we published that person’s work or not.
Prince’s global reach with his music prompted us to plan from the outset in 2011 to strive to be an international entity. To reach the world’s people with words and images that would stimulate introspective reflection, motivation, and eagerness to live the vast complexities of life.
And as of May 2016, aaduna has reached 92 countries. Our contributors [in every issue] are a diverse and multicultural array of poets, writers, and visual artists without any pre-determined selection process to make that situation a reality. Our readership also reflects the international rainbow of global supporters and fans.
This anniversary issue is complex in its themes, writing styles, and subtle nuances.
Take your time with it.
Read each contributor.
Marvel at the images in the galleries.
And then just breathe and take it all in, and get ready for the summer issue. Simply, aaduna may have a global reach but it is meant to affect you, to let you roam to places that you may never go. To inspire. To open avenues. To celebrate Life.