Hello Purple Playground!! Here is my reflection on Academy of Prince 2019. Thank you all for making this a reality...💜
“Love Allows People to Live in the Moment Don’t Take Life for Granted You got to Live in the Moment We Got to Live for Each Other” - “Live in the Moment” AOP Class of 2019
“Power to the ones who can raise a child like me” - Prince
Academy of Prince 2019 is in the history books. For two weeks twelve young people and several adults united to provide healing for one another and to our troubled world by uplifting and celebrating the life and legacy of Prince by writing and recording original music inspired by his work. When we started AOP 2019 the summer, much like our country was in a weird paradox. Although it was a beautiful summer in many regards, it was also a very ugly summer. Our country seemed so divided, severely wounded, and in pain. Vile and racist hate speech sparked violent and horrific mass shootings unlike anything we’ve ever seen or experienced before. Fear and outrage were as paralyzing as the hot and sweat drenched days. My home in the bay area was a place where one of these shootings had recently taken place. At a garlic festival, a 6 year old child lost their life to this shameful, cruel, and unnecessary violence. Then just days before leaving for Minneapolis to team up with Heidi Vader to run Academy of Prince, two more shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Our people are being murdered. Our country is not well. We need Purple Playground.
Purple Playground to me is a state of mind I think many Prince fans can relate to. It’s the feeling I get when I’m so inspired by Prince that I believe I can change the world. It’s the feeling I got when I told Heidi Vader instead of giving money to a music education program in Prince’s honor we should create our own program, and we did. A playground is a place where you’re not only allowed, but you’re encouraged to dream, explore, and exercise your imagination. Playgrounds are safe, fun, and exciting spaces where friends, whether old or new, come together to play and create art as a way to understand and process our life experiences. Playgrounds are an important and integral part of the human experience. People regardless of age, race, gender, etc. need spaces where we can come together despite differences, to find inspiration, be creative, and free ourselves in times of distress, turmoil, and confusion. That is what Purple Playground is. We simply provide people, young people in particular, with the opportunity to learn and be inspired by the life and artistry of Prince. We then give them the time, space, and resources to use that inspiration to build community across differences and find liberation through music and creative expression.
Academy of Prince is not school. In school success is dependent upon a student’s ability to compete with other students for grades and recognition. In Academy of Prince success is dependent upon a student’s ability to collaborate, share ideas, and develop a common vision in order to create meaningful art.
In less than ten days twelve young people wrote and recorded five songs and shot a music video. Most professional musicians aren’t this focused, driven, and committed to their art. Academy of Prince is proof that Prince’s inspiration and legacy will live forever if we do the hard work of investing our time, energy, and resources in educating, empowering, and uplifting the music and voices of our young people.
Prince taught me many lessons. He taught me that it is the artists’ duty and responsibility to provide unity, healing, and hope to the community with a message of Love. Throughout my life, Prince’s music has provided me with wisdom, hope, and healing through some of the most dark, devastating, and painful times. If songs like “The Future”, “Free”, “Sign o’ the Times”, “The Love We Make”, “Partyup”, “Dance On”, “Positivity”, and “America” could help me understand, combat, and heal from the violence and racism our world was experiencing in my youth, then the music AOP creates should, at the very least strive to do the same in 2019, and every year. The most important thing we did this summer was help the students see themselves as artists with a mission, message, and a purpose. Our goal was for them to see and love their art, like Prince saw and loved his art.
We wanted them to see that their art had the power and potential to unite, heal, uplift, and celebrate all the beauty and chaos of this thing called life. It was in this spirit that Heidi and I took the journey of AOP 2019. Through this journey the students learned a lot about Prince, but more importantly they learned about each other and themselves. They created art, music, and friendships that will live forever. And we are just getting started.
Thank you Prince. Thank you Everyone who supports and believes in Purple Playground. Blessings.