Especially for World Music Day last week, we asked the talented staff from our composition team to share the tracks, artists or moments that sparked their passion. Head of Music and Voice for Australia Steve Wilk chose Prince as his ultimate musical inspiration – and he explains exactly why.
Many have asked me, and I have always wondered, if there was a particular song, artist, or genre of music that pulled me towards being a musician. Time and again one artist always pops into mind. Prince. In fact, with my first ever pocket money I didn’t buy toys or candy, but music from Prince.
Prince was an artist, songwriter, musician, producer ... and the list goes on. He would never bow down to trends or the norm. He in fact would break the norm and create trends. As an example, some of Prince’s tracks were sung in falsetto showcasing his massive vocal range – not a typical sound from a male artist at the time. “How come you don’t call me” is a prime showcase of this – which Alicia Keys later covered – and was a vocal sound which Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke and others have used to success. He would push the boundaries on gender stereotypes too, having an androgynous style, but also employing female band members like Sheila E, who paved the way for many of today’s female drummers.
For me personally, he was an integral part of my musical education.
to groove as a drummer listening and playing his songs like ‘Peach.’
to tell a story with imagery listening to “Little Red Corvette”
to build tension and release with dynamics and turn and surprise the listener with ‘SHHH!’
to write lyrics and melody that push the norm on topics and storytelling with ‘Darling Nikki’, which also earned me a trip to the principal’s office for bringing risqué music to class.
about performance and stage presence and the connection of music-musician-audience.
I was also lucky enough to watch Prince perform live at The Forum in Inglewood CA. It was definitely a bucket list moment. The show went for hours, multiple encores, and he still didn’t play all his hits, simply amazing.
Today, his music is still teaching me every time I listen. I worked with a celebrity client, the very first day of rehearsals while listening to one of her tracks, I turned to the artist whom I had just met and said something that was very risky. I stated that this one particular track feels like a Prince song (always a bad idea to compare an artist’s music to another’s) to which the artist turned to me with a big smile and said “Yes, he wrote it for me while I was at Paisley Park.” This started a conversation between the artist, band, crew and me sharing our Prince stories, and discovering that we were all connected by his music – not just as fans. The trumpet player in our band was performing with Prince the night I was at the Forum. The Monitor Engineer’s friend, who was guitar tech for Prince, was fired that night for letting a guitar go up on stage with fingerprints on it…. and on and on we went… different ages, cultures, backgrounds, origins, all connected by this one artist’s music.
In celebration of World Music Day, PHMG Founder Grant Reed shared his thoughts on the importance of music to all – along with the musical inspirations of our talented composers. Click here to take a look.