Prince welcomed the National Association of Black Journalists to Paisley Park, his sprawling recording studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota, on August 8. But not everyone left singing his praises.
“I wanted him to perform. It was kind of like an empty show,” complained freelance journalist Dominique O’Neill of Columbus, Ohio, before saying he was “disappointed.”
O’Neill was one of 873 reporters, editors, producers and photographers who visited Paisley Park as part of the NABJ’s annual convention in Minneapolis, organizers said.
Billed as a dance party, NABJ president Bob Butler announced Wednesday that the event would be taking place. Convention attendees were required to register online for the gathering, then pick up tickets. The day of the event they were told to show their tickets to board shuttle buses from downtown Minneapolis, present their registration badges at the door, then pay a $20 cover to enter the facility.
They were also warned in advance not to bring cell phones, recording devices or cameras to the party. While there was never a guarantee that Prince would perform, many assumed the restrictive nature of the gathering all but insured he would belt out some of his hits.
“The expectation of him performing may have left some people disappointed, but I enjoyed it,” said Everett Marshburn of Milwaukee Public Television.
The party started around 11.p.m. Saturday, with The Purple One taking the stage two hours later.
“Thank you all for coming,” he said, before explaining that he would not be performing because his band was on vacation. The Grammy-winning musician went on to plug his new album “HitNRun,” which as TheWrap previously reported, will be released exclusively on Jay Z’s Tidal.
“Jay Z and I are putting out an album come September 7,” Prince told the crowd, before urging attendees to buy his LP and support the hip-hop mogul’s struggling music streaming service.
“He could really use your help and appreciation because he is trying to do something big,” Prince explained.
While the attendees went crazy as the “Let’s Go Crazy” singer strutted through the crowd in his signature high heels and gold lame ensemble, there were audible groans when he exited the stage after less than a minute.
“I was wanting more,” said Dedrick Russell of WBTV in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary offered an even more harsh assessment. “I’m pissed. I want my money back,” Singletary said, as she explained she wasn’t upset with NABJ or the local chapter, which organized the event, but with the artist himself.
“I feel bad for the local chapter. I thought it was a little disrespectful to come out and say ‘buy my album,’” she added. Still, Singletary said she wasn’t surprised by Prince’s drive-by appearance.
“It just confirms what we hear about artists being selfish,” she said. “I will not buy his album.”