Carnegie Hall was sold out Thursday night as musicians such as The Roots, Elvis Costello, and many other artists paid tribute to musical artist Prince. The event was a part of an annual music education benefit at the famed New York hall, which raised over $100,000.
The range of musicians was vast, included Costello, musical director Questlove and the Roots, as well as the Blind Boys of Alabama, and former Saturday Night Live cast member Maya Rudolph. The groups pulled hits and obscure tunes from the pop musician’s entire 40-year body of work. While Prince was not at the event personally, members from former backing bands were there to play their hits one more time.
Wendy Melvoin, guitarist of The Revolution provided much of the accompaniment with The Roots during the event. The Revolution is best known for being the backup band for Prince during the Purple Rain album and tour. The saxophonist from the Lovesexy and Sign o’ the Times albums was also there to add his experience. Along with members of other Prince bands like The Family, it was a backing band reunion orchestrated by Questlove.
There were also some standup comedians paying tribute to the musician. Chris Rock did the spoken word portion of “If I was Your Girlfriend” while Sandra Bernhard did her own rendition of “Little Red Corvette”. Overall the reviews of the night were positive, and everyone seemed to do well by their covers of Prince’s music.
The tribute was another in an annual concert held to raise money for music education for underprivileged youth. It is not a new thing in the wake of many schools cutting their arts budgets and forcing music education down to a minimum. Less wealthy schools tend to not have band or choral programs anymore, so events like the one held Thursday night help to promote the arts in schools again.
Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson and has released 33 albums in his 35-years as a touring and recording artist. Known for is sexually themed songwriting, flamboyant dress, and skilled guitar playing, he has scaled back his recording and touring since becoming a Jehovah’s Witness. His last album was 20Ten, released in 2010.
Prince has gone by his given name, stage name, and as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince”. He currently resides in his native state of Minnesota.