Many artists have been performing tributes to Prince since the icon’s passing last week, but few have done it with the all encompassing love as Janelle Monaé. The singer dedicated her entire set at New Orleans Jazz Fest to the man she called “my close friend, my confidante, & hero.”
“Oh, we’re gonna party. We’re gonna celebrate Prince,” she said, according to Nola.com. “My entire set is dedicated to him. He was free. He was fearless. He was music. He was rock and roll. He was on beat. … I am because he was. We’re gonna break boundaries, just like he did.”
She opened the performance with “Givin’ Em What They Love”, a track from her 2013 album The Electric Lady which Price featured on and co-wrote. From there, her set was peppered with covers and anecdotes about her Purple Preceptor. She recounted the first time she met Prince, a night that began with a phone call she received after opening for Raphael Saadique in Oakland.
“This young lady … knocked on my door and she said, ‘Hi Janelle, there’s someone who wants to talk to you on the phone,'” Monaé said, as you can hear in the video above. “And I said, ‘Okay.’ So I take the phone and I say, ‘Hello?’ And this voice says, ‘Hello, Janelle. This is Prince.’ And I said, ‘Who?’ ‘Prince.’ I said, ‘No.’ And she’s in front of me shaking her head like, ‘Yes, that’s him!'”
After he apologized for missing her set, she asked, “‘You know about me? Like, you, Prince, you know about people?’ And he was like, ‘Yes. I love your jazz voice, Janelle. And I love what you’re doing for the music industry.’ I said, ‘Are you serious? You like me?’ ‘I love you. We’re having a jam session at my house, would you like to come to a jam session?'” Stunned, Monaé said she drove her and her band to Prince’s LA home and played for seven hours straight.
She then dedicated her next song, “Smile”, to her fallen friend. “I have not sung this song in a really, really long time. But here’s my jazz voice, Prince, and I hope you like it.”
Elsewhere in the set, she covered Prince’s “Take Me With You” and “Let’s Go Crazy”, both of which you can watch below.
“Take Me With You”:
“Let’s Go Crazy”:
For more on Prince and the tributes that have been pouring in, head to our Remembering Prince page.