By Harry Colbert, Jr.
Managing Editor –
The last show Prince ever saw was at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis … the last artist was Lizz Wright.
Wright performed on April 19 of last year at the Dakota. Prince – as he was for several shows at the iconic venue – was in attendance. According to Lowell Pickett, the Dakota’s owner, Prince, who was known to duck out early at shows, stayed to the very end of Wright’s performance. After seeing her this time around – a year and a day from her last Dakota show – it’s no wonder why Prince stuck around.
Wrights’ voice is both beautiful and haunting. You can’t escape it. Steeped more in jazz than soul or R&B, there are no huge vocal runs, no theatrics. There was no need.
Wright dedicated her show to the late Prince, performing many songs that were Prince inspired or favorites of Prince, including covers of Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. She also performed some of her original works, including songs she performed during last year’s show … songs that Prince heard. Her performance of “Seems Like I’m Never Tired of Loving You” rekindled withering love and caused fervent love to blossom more. But easily the most powerful moment of the show came during Wright’s much-deserved encore when she sang Prince’s most iconic song, “Purple Rain” to a standing ovation.
It was no accident that Wright was invited back to the Dakota nearly a year to the day of her last show there – and nearly a year to the day of Prince’s passing. In a week where much of the area celebrated the life of its favorite child, Wright’s performance offered a beautiful opportunity to mourn what we have lost and to celebrate all we have gained through the man born Prince Rogers Nelson … known to the world more simply as Prince.