Credit — or blame — Prince’s estate and Irving Azoff, the most influential power broker in the music biz. They were responsible for lining up the talent for Thursday’s official Prince tribute concert at Xcel Energy Center. Morris Hayes, one of Prince’s former keyboardists, is the music director, in charge of the batting order and set list. Here’s who’s who in the lineup — and how each is connected to the Purple One.
Prince and Wonder were mutual admirers. The Minnesotan sat in on a couple of tunes at a Wonder show in Las Vegas a few years ago. Having done Prince salutes at the Billboard Awards and BET Awards this year, Wonder has become a go-to name for Purple tributes.
Prince had a Chaka Khan poster in his apartment as a teenager. In 1984, she recorded his “I Feel for You,” which went to No. 3 and earned him a Grammy for best R&B song. In 1998, he produced a Khan album for his NPG label.
Like Prince, she measures 5 feet 2 — without high heels.
Prince and members of his group 3rdEyeGirl went to see newcomer Kelly in concert at the Varsity Theater in 2015, and the girls were so taken that they brought her to Paisley Park to meet Prince. Kelly sang with Stevie Wonder on the BET Awards’ Prince salute.
The Philly soul man performed Prince songs as part of a tribute at the BET Awards in June and with the Revolution, Prince’s “Purple Rain” era band, at First Avenue in September.
Morris Day & the Time
In 1981, Prince created the Time around lead singer Day, who had been the drummer in one of Prince’s high school bands, Grand Central. Under a pseudonym, Prince wrote and produced the Time’s records. On the silver screen, Day portrayed Prince’s rival in “Purple Rain” (1984) and “Graffiti Bridge” (1990).
They are from St. Paul, and Prince was from Minneapolis, but he was a fan of the veteran R&B band that scored hits in the ’90s. They opened for him in Europe and America on the Welcome 2 Tour in 2010-11. Also, Mint lead singer Stokley Williams sang on Prince’s “Call My Name” in 2004; Mint’s O’Dell has two guitars Prince gave him.
She was a backup singer in Prince’s band, New Power Generation, in recent years and sang on his 2009 “LotusFlow3r” project. As a frontwoman with a powerhouse rock-soul voice, she has performed regularly at Paisley Park and as an opening act for Prince. He was executive producer of her 2014 album, “The Unexpected,” and wrote songs for the disc.
After impressing on NBC’s “The Voice” and in the doc “20 Feet From Stardom,” the ex-Michael Jackson backup singer needed Prince to help her get out of her Sony record deal. He not only helped produce and write her “Back in Time” disc in 2015, but he enlisted her as an opening act on his shows. She was on the private jet with him that made an emergency landing a week before he died.
The New Orleans R&B singer opened for Liv Warfield at the Dakota two years ago and for Prince once in New York in 2013. When James met his idol, he was blown away that Prince knew the title to one of his songs, “Strawberry Vapors.”
She went to Paisley Park to talk to him about producing her album. “I got scared. He overwhelmed me,” she told the Star Tribune. However, when Prince was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, Baker sat at his table along with Larry Graham, Prince’s then-wife, Manuela, and others at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Doug E. Fresh
Prince dug this 1980s beatboxing rapper, who joined him in 2015 at the Rally 4 Peace in Baltimore. Fresh once told BET that Prince invited him to join the New Power Generation.
Official Prince tribute concert
When: 7 p.m. Thu.
Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul.
Tickets: Sold out