The Reason I Love the Color Purple


It’s been a few days and I’m still not ok. This past weekend some friends and I gathered to celebrate Prince and someone remarked, “You’ll never forget where you were when you heard the news.”

I was at work and mentally drained from an already emotionally taxing week. The text came through to my phone and I instantly felt the blood in my body drain to the soles of my feet. I just knew I was going to faint. To avoid it, I decided to walk, eventually wandering into my coworkers’ office for confirmation. A few minutes later, they let me know that it was true. Prince had passed away.

I needed to cry. I needed to be alone. My phone started ringing as my relatives called to check on me. I almost felt silly. Here I am, an adult woman sitting cross-legged on the floor of the men’s bathroom crying into my cell phone about a person I’ve never met. Keyword here being almost.

I’ve read several pieces on Prince’s impact over the past few days and I can’t get enough. My heart leaps in knowing that I am not alone in my appreciation of him and what he meant to so many around the world.

My first memories of Prince come from my mother and my aunt/cousin. I would sit and listen in awe to their stories of growing up in the Concord Village projects. Their outfits and personal taste was at the time, like most teenagers, a by-product of their musical choices. That music (Duran Duran, Boy George and of course Prince) was to me the entry point to a universe I wanted to know more about. My mother and my aunt/cousin were two of the most fascinating people in my life so I was enamored with anything they considered interesting or cool.

I recall hearing Diamonds and Pearls played quite frequently. At my late Aunt Debbie’s house one Sunday afternoon, I listened excitedly as the grown-ups talked about Prince’s work on the 1989 Batman soundtrack. When I was eight, we lived in a small house on King St. Prince’s version of “Betcha By Golly Wow” came on TV and my mom dedicated it to my siblings and I. The first time I watched Purple Rain I was hooked. It was then that I decided purple would be my favorite color. It made me feel that much closer to the person who had become one of my personal sources of inspiration.

Here was this man that was unlike anyone I’d ever seen. He was peculiar and adored. Shy and unquestionably confident.

His music – rife with mysticism, spirituality and sexuality among other themes fueled in me a sense of curiosity. His art assured me that it was alright to be multifaceted and complicated… A sensual being as well as a spiritual sojourner… An outspoken activist and funked-out party animal… A repeat undercover over-lover with more passion than I knew what to do with.

Quite simply, Prince’s music helped me to know myself and appreciate the extra special parts. For that, I’ll be forever grateful.