Five Asian/Pacific Islanders Who Have Collaborated With or Been Influenced by Prince
Doves cried (as well as music fans everywhere) when it was announced that music icon Prince suddenly passed away at age 57 on April 21st. The artist behind hits like “Purple Rain” and “Little Red Corvette” was known and respected for transcending genres and pushing boundaries in music.
Having been in the music industry for nearly four decades, one can imagine the number of lives he has touched, as a collaborator and as an influence. This, of course, extends to the members of our API community as well, which is why I want to take this time to highlight five individuals who have either worked with or were influenced by Prince:
Singer-songwriter Judith Hill is no stranger to working with music legends. Renowned artists such as Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Elton John were already on her resume when Prince brought her under his wing. She first came on his radar after he saw an interview of her where she said she’d like to work with him. He co-produced her debut album, Back in Time, which was released last fall. In fact, he can be heard gushing over her on the second track, “Turn Up.” Hill can also be heard on Prince’s album, Hit n Run Phase One, as a featured artist on the first track, “Million $ Show.”
Alexie Agdeppa is an incredibly prolific dancer. Apart from being a former contestant for Season 7 of So You Think You Can Dance?, she has also appeared in a number of music videos for artists like Nelly Furtado, the Pussycat Dolls, and of course Prince. She appears in the music video for his song, “7,” where she is one of the little girls dancing alongside the featured dancer Mayte. Aside from working with him, Prince was also an inspiration for Agdeppa when she was growing up, as she expressed in this touching tribute to him on Instagram:
Devastated. I still can’t believe it. My first dance competition solo was to you, you molded and inspired so many of us dancers/artists with your music and free soul (warm-ups, combos, classes, competitions, performances, being silly around the house…) I was lucky enough to cross paths with you even for a brief time – You will ALWAYS have a special place in my 💜 #prince “Hey, look me over Tell me do you like what you see? Hey, I ain’t got no money But honey I’m rich on personality Hey, check it all out Baby I know what it’s all about Before the night is through You will see my point of view Even if I have too scream and shout Baby I’m a star”
Multitudes of tributes came pouring out within days after Prince’s passing, but none is more so touching than this essay from Bay Area media consultant and college instructor Sonny Lê. A refugee from Vietnam, Lê immigrated to the United States, right when MTV was being introduced and Prince and David Bowie were on their rises to stardom. He expressed in his essay how refreshing it was to see these two defy boundaries not only as artists, but also as individuals. To Sonny, this was a refreshing sight for him to see while he was figuring out how things worked in this country and feeling comfortable with being himself.
Singer-songwriter Bruno Mars may as well be a legend in the making of contemporary times. He has a wide array of hit songs under his belt, as well as just as many influences behind his unique sound. In an early interview for 4Music.com, Mars named Prince as one of his musical influences, along with Elvis Presley and The Police. Just to hit that point of influence even harder, his catchy collaboration with producer Mark Ronson, “Uptown Funk,” incorporates some of that Minneapolis sound and, as Will Hermes for Rolling Stone believes, “could even teach Prince a trick or two.”
Fresh off of being nominated for an Academy Award in 2004 for her breakthrough role in Whale Rider, the then 14-year-old actress Keisha Castle-Hughes was cast to play the young protagonist for the music video for Prince’s song, “Cinnamon Girl.” In a behind-the-scenes interview, Castle-Hughes gushes over this opportunity of a lifetime… as well as having to explain to her mom how it doesn’t matter if she’s not of Prince’s generation; she’s still an adamant fan. In the music video, she portrays an Arab American girl who’s being victimized post-9/11, followed by dreaming of being a suicide bomber. Understandably, this was one of Prince’s more controversial music videos.
How has Prince influenced your life? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!