Though it was recorded in 2010, the brand new Prince album “Welcome 2 America” has just been released and it sounds like a sign of these times.
Available to the public on Friday (7.30) the latest posthumous LP from the artist born Prince Rogers Nelson feels like a socially conscious statement made in response to the Black Lives Matter movement that occurred five years after his premature passing.
“I swear that he’s speaking from the grave,” said Elisa Fiorillo, a member of Prince’s NPG (New Power Generation) band who sang background vocals on the entire LP. “Now I listen to it, and I get it more than I did when I sang it, which is crazy. It’s like he read into the future.”
More than a decade after making “Welcome 2 America,” a prescient Prince has aligned himself with a different kind of revolution on such songs as “Running Game (Son of a Slave Master),” “One Day We’ll All B Free” and “Stand Up and B Strong.”
According to Tal Wilkenfeld, who played bass during the 2010 recording sessions “With the album coming out now, it’s almost like what everyone needs to hear,” . “He was very focused on the socio-political climate … He really cared to have a voice in what was happening in the world at large and make change.” And Liv Warfield, another NPG background singer who lent her voice to the full length said that Prince’s must-get message is to “wake up to everything around you.” “I remember him saying, ‘Man, it’s feeling like the ’60s all over again,’ ” said Warfield. “We’re still fighting.”
Wondering why Prince didn’t release this protest repertoire years back, Warfield stated, “I don’t think people were ready. The world wasn’t ready,” and Fiorillo added “he knew that eventually there’d be a time [for the album].” She recalled that the background singers would road-test the new music in Prince’s black Mercedes SUV as the artist drove them around Minneapolis. “When we finished the songs,” she said, “we’d always go in the car to listen to the mixes.”
Having “Welcome 2 America” come out five years after Prince’s death is bittersweet for Wilkenfeld: “I just wish he was here, you know? It’s so close to home, just all the memories flooding in of us making it … But I’m glad everyone gets to hear it.”