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Hey folks,

It’s Friday!

Making this short…today marks a year since my Cousin Prince passed away. I’ll be posting a blog post later on about how today went but in the meantime here is a short piece I wrote which has also been featured on the blog, Hill Street Viewz written by Sean Hill. I also posted a new Prince Tribute Video on YouTube.

————

April 21st, 2016 is a day I’ll never forget. That Thursday morning, felt like so many other tragedies: Hurricane Katrina, the 2010 Haiti Earthquake and countless others. It was devastating and left me shock like so many people who had heard the news about the loss of the Legendary Artist known as Prince. A month later, I made an amazing discovery that changed my life. I did some research on ancestry.com out of curiosity and discovered Prince was my fourth cousin on my Dad’s side! Apparently, I had come across a branch in my family tree that seemed to be forgotten for years! While the discovery was exciting it was also heartbreaking in that the one person I would love to share this with isn’t here.

Since then, I have gotten in touch with Prince’s friends and members of my extended family.  We all miss Prince and being able to talk and remember him has helped. My Dad’s also a musician and like Prince, has worked with various people in the industry. I’m in the process of putting together a documentary based on my research. I hope by sharing my experience that it inspires others to do research on their ancestry and family history. I miss him and often think about how things might’ve been had I learned we were related sooner. It is heartwarming to know so many people love him. My cousin has inspired me in more ways than one and being related to him is something I cherish.  A year later, the loss is still hard to deal with. Last April, the world lost someone many consider a brother, friend, hero and mentor. For me, it was my cousin. In the past year, I’ve learned a lot about who I am, where I come from and that I’m one of several people who shares the same blood as the legendary Artist known as Prince. Quoting Brian McKnight’s song and one of my cousin’s greatest hits, after this Friday, I might dry my eyes but without a doubt, this won’t be when one last dove cries…

 

 

 

“All 2gether”

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Hey folks…

Last night the American Music Awards aired on ABC.

Though the show wasn’t anything to write home about, the highlight was that Purple Rain won Soundtrack of the Year, exactly 32 years after the movie was released in theaters and became a box office hit and the album sold 20 million copies. The film and album are what helped my cousin to become a household name.

But anyway, here’s a short piece I wrote that I wanted to share…grab yourself a kleenix tissue…you’re going to need it! I’ve titled this piece…

U and I…

—–

The year 1066 is where our family history begins. The Nelson, Carmichael and Clark clans of England, Scotland and Ireland once had a seat of power, some were Chiefs and Lords, others held the title of the oldest Royal clans to rule over their homelands.  600 years later, these three families sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in hopes of a better life away from the hardships of their former home. As time went on, more and more of them left the highlands and coasts of the United Kingdom for the Eastern seaboard of America. These families eventually spread out and headed South. 100 some years ago, our ancestors crossed paths in the states of Alabama and Louisiana. Some born as slaves or children of masters. After years of hardship and long suffering, they were finally free!
Eventually they went their separate ways, some remaining in the South, the others headed North to Minnesota. Generations later, they’ve all since passed on…you came before me and I’ve missed you since you’ve been gone. For years, I knew I was different but unbeknownst to me, you were out there and felt the same way too. If only I knew, somehow, somewhere there was someone like me whose looks and personalities were nearly identical to my own.
Your uphill struggle against those who set out to break you down, gave me hope that one day I too will overcome my own battles and rise up like you did. There are those who are skeptical and doubt we are related but I see it every day as I learn more from those who knew you.

I miss you day to day, but the same blood that runs in my veins will always stay.

Though we were miles and years apart, there is no distance between loved ones and their hearts.

All these years I have walked through the streets of LA, the Bay Area, Vegas and New York City, not knowing that during any of those times, there was a chance we could meet.
This time last year, you were still here…If only I knew what I know now, I would have contacted you…somehow. As days go by, I remind myself there’s a place for you… not in a heavenly atmosphere but on a paradise Earth, whenever it gets here.

Where your journey ends, is where I hope mine begins. You set a great example that I’ll never forget. Every day I think of you as I try to keep it together, but there are moments that still get to my heart. You and I are alike in more ways than one, if only you were still here, we could talk face to face. The story of our ancestors is one I’ll gladly tell. From the coastal highlands of the United Kingdom to the cotton fields of Alabama and Louisiana and the front gate of Paisley Park; our family has come a long way. One hundred years and four generations later, the journey’s not over yet. Our family has a rich history that many have yet to know. You told stories through your music and there’s one more that is still unsung. I look forward to writing that story in memory of you and hope it will help ease the pain of missing a chance to walk with you in the Purple Rain…


Purple Rain-Best Soundtrack American Music Awards 2016.

Thanks for reading.

See you on Wednesday!

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Hey folks,

I had a wonderful time on Monday and wanted to share a teaser trailer for one of my Prince related projects. Every shot I edited frame by frame and set it to the theme music from the 2016 remake of Roots.

Prince: An Unsung History is based on my essay, A Like-Minded Match.

Everyone knows of Prince’s rise to stardom but what if…there is more to the story?

The premise of Prince: An Unsung History is a documentary on my cousin’s ancestry and a journey that began long before Purple Rain.

Alex Haley wrote Roots, which told the story of his ancestors and family history.

To get Prince: An Unsung History from an idea to an actual production, will take several supporters. For now, it’s just in the planning stage. Will post more details for how things go.

In the meantime, enjoy this teaser trailer for Prince: An Unsung History.

See ya on Monday!

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WP_20160829_23_02_07_Pro

Purple Rain Movie Poster

 

Hi folks,

It’s Wednesday…after a long day of traveling…I am exhausted but happy as a five-year-old at Disneyland!

With lots of effort and careful planning I was able to attend the Purple Rain panel and screening at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills!

Special thanks to Manuela for mentioning the event on her Facebook page back in July. After two days of waiting, I was able to purchase tickets.

Spent the next few weeks reading and watching whatever behind the scenes articles and video footage about Purple Rain I could find. I got to say, it was great to learn the story behind this Summer blockbuster.

Fast forward to Sunday, I was on the edge of my seat that in another 24 hours I’d be in Los Angeles…

7AM Monday Morning, went about with getting ready and loading up the car…12 hours until the event. After dropping my dogs off at the boarding kennel that was it, right… well about an hour into the trip it almost became a disaster because the outfit I picked out to wear had been left behind! Turned around and went back despite it costing me and my folks an opportunity of getting into town early but worth it nonetheless.

Checked into the hotel around 4pm with just enough time to grab some dinner and change outfits…

If anyone who attended saw me at all, I was the one with jeans, a t-shirt and a blue & white striped sweater.

Traffic was surprisingly good considering this was a Monday… I was born and raised in LA for a good portion of my life so heavy traffic and commuting is nothing new. Word of advice, have snacks and water in your car for this sort of thing.

A short walk through security and one flight of stairs later, I got up to the main auditorium.

The panel hadn’t started though I sadly missed the opening by Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs’ speech and the clip of Prince’s acceptance speech at the Oscars. I did get a nice view of the stage from the back row and had brought along my binoculars which was helpful.

There was plenty of applause as Jerome Benton, Marie France, Jill Jones, Robert Cavallo, Albert Magnoli, Marcus Miller and Reggie Hudlin made their way to the stage one by one. Joseph Ruffalo who was in the audience was given an honorable mention and stood up when his name was called.
However, the audience gave a standing ovation for special guest, Appollonia Kotero!

I will admit from watching the panel it was wonderful hearing the stories of people who worked with Prince in their own words.

I found myself laughing and becoming emotional during the event. Hearing how much these people enjoyed working with Prince along with Appollonia’s heartfelt commentary really gave me an opportunity to learn more about who my cousin was in addition to hearing that those who worked with him had a great deal of love and respect for him.

As the evening went on, I noticed someone getting up from the seats a few rows away from me. He looked so familiar…then I thought… it’s Van Jones! Stepping out into the theater with my Dad and sure enough it was him, in person!  We had an opportunity to talk for a brief moment due his ride coming to pick him up in 20 minutes. It was a pleasant chat. Wasn’t able to take a picture with him but was still great.

My Dad and I ended up staying in the hallway for a few minutes after, saw Reggie Hudlin and Manuela.

I will admit talking with Manuela was just one of the highlights for me that night. I even got a photo with her…

Her exact words: “You’re the only one getting a picture tonight!”

All in all, we hit it off very well.

After the movie ended, people who attended started to leave the auditorium and head downstairs.

Snapped a photo of the Oscar statue on my way out. Got an opportunity to speak with Albert Magnoli, Marie France and Robert Cavallo. They were all wonderful.

I also met other people including Erica Gimpel, also known as Cocoa from the hit TV show Fame.

I did spot Jerome Benton and Cat Glover but missed out on speaking to them, Jill Jones, Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Appollonia were nowhere to be found, from what I could see… so they likely took a different exit out of the theater.

I did mention to Robert Cavallo that I had seen his interview on 20/20 back in April… turns out the news crew spent quite a bit of time at his house with 5 cameras!

A few photos and exchange of contact information later, it was time to head outside as the theater was getting ready to close for the night.
A Prince group called The Bumpsquad had a banner set up outside the theater. Various people signed the banner which will be hung on the fence at Paisley Park this weekend. My family was able to sign it before they closed up shop. What I wrote was this:

“Thank you for bringing joy 2 my life… I ♥ you, cousin.”

Anyway… I enjoyed myself and it was great to meet the people who had known my cousin through the years. They did offer their sympathy and commended my efforts to come to the panel and screening… we enjoyed talking that evening.

After leaving, my folks and I stopped for a bite to eat before heading back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep…nothing says LA like a Pink’s hotdog with fries and a Dr. Brown’s cream soda. Then it was lights out.

 

I hope those I met that night will be the start of some wonderful friendships.

I believe cousin Prince would be happy to know part of his family was in attendance for the event and met some of his longtime friends as well. I certainly will stay in touch.

This being both my first Prince and Academy event was truly special and one I will remember.

I have to say Reggie Hudlin, Marcus Miller, Cheryl Boone Isaacs and anyone else involved did an excellent job for this event.

If I missed meeting anyone else besides Jerome Benton, Appollonia Kotero, Jill Jones, Marcus Miller, Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Joseph Ruffalo… I hope we cross paths again one day. The stories you shared about your time together with Prince were definitely music to my ears. I am proud to have him for a cousin and miss Prince every day and will always love him.

To those I met on Monday night: Van Jones, Manuela, Reggie Hudlin, Marie France, Albert Magnoli, Robert Cavallo, Erica Gimpel, Tamika and Laurence, I thank you for your kind words and greatly appreciate a moment of your time. Prince has a special place in everyone’s hearts, mine included.

I hope to see you all again soon.

It was a great Monday night. I couldn’t think of a happier ending to a Summer day.

 

 

 

See you on Friday!

 

 

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prince-naacp-2005-billboard-650-1548

My cousin Prince… missing you everyday…

“When the door closes, another one opens…I walk through it, with my head up…”- lyrics from “New Beginnings” by Bear and a Banjo.

Hey folks,

This will be my last full blog post before I send my laptop out for repairs.

Anyway, there’s a potential change in the ballgame regarding Prince’s estate.

It seems that two people who have come forward as possibly being his sons…yep, that’s right!

One of which tested 99 % positive on the DNA testing and another who had filed a claim but was sadly rejected due to restrictions by Minnesota state law.

If either of these individuals or both turn out to be Prince’s sons, they would inherit Prince’s royalties.

As for me, I did file a report with a genealogy firm looking for Prince’s relatives but for legal reasons, first and foremost…I’m not looking for personal gain from any of this and personally, am glad not to be caught in the courtroom drama. My report, however, was kept for documentation by the genealogy firm.

However, the court dismissed the search for Prince’s other relatives which includes extended family. Now before anyone says ‘I told you so!’ or anything… I was told by the genealogy firm about how a case like this could go and as it turns out, Minnesota’s law regarding an inheritance applies to immediate family only which includes a person’s wife, children, siblings, etc… extended family such as cousins like myself are exempt.

But that’s a NOT problem for me…just being related to Prince is what means a lot to me and something that holds a special place in my heart.

I am however, both hurt and angered by the comments regarding his sister Tyka and possible descendants.

Why?

Well, those who come forward with possibly being descendants of Prince, such as a son or daughter…I’m trying to keep an open mind because should any of them prove to be his offspring then that makes them my cousins too!

Like me, their lives were different before that tragic Thursday in April and they probably didn’t think much of the possibility of being related to Prince.

The 1980s was an open time and it’s not uncommon for people to have kids or siblings they never knew about. Examples I can think of are Oprah Winfrey who had a sister she never met until around 6 years ago and BB King had 15 children who have different mothers. Ray Charles also had a son from a previous relationship but sent a check every month to support the boy and his mother. The same could have happened to Prince.

As I said before, it hurts to read the things people write online about your family. Nobody likes to see anything like that especially on the internet for all to see.

Why I am keeping an open mind about Prince’s possible descendants is that as mentioned before, should they prove to be his offspring, then they’d be my relatives as well.

So, I only want to show kindness, sympathy and compassion towards them because there could come a time that I might cross paths with them some time in life.

If that happens, I for one would welcome the opportunity to meet my extended family. Even if they knew Prince or not, I believe getting to know them would be beneficial and help ease the pain of losing a loved one that we’ve all felt these past 90 days.

Plus, it would show that even though Prince is no longer around, a remnant of him is still here, in addition to Tyka and the other siblings.

Alex Haley wrote the book, Roots which told the story of his ancestors and family history.

I hope to write my own ‘Roots’ story about my ancestors and family whether it’s a book or documentary.

I believe Prince would have loved it. Quoting the song ‘New Beginnings’ by Bear and a Banjo:

“Every ending… is just a new beginning.”

And that’s it for now, until my laptop comes back from repairs…

See you in August!

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Hi All,

And it’s Monday!

Watched the BET Awards last night and I must say, this was one of the best award shows I have seen in a long time.

However, I must confess, no words can express the mix of emotions I felt while watching in my living room. Talented people such as Jennifer Hudson and others honoring Prince with a tribute that would have no doubt brought tears to his eyes had he been in the audience. But what made watching the awards rather hard for me had to be the fact the very person being honored with a tribute is also the one whose blood runs through my veins. Prince was honored at the 2010 BET Awards and also a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

But Sunday night’s program had its share of comedy, drama and highlighting what Blacks have achieved this year.

Jesse Williams’ speech was  truly inspiring. With the conflicts involving Black residents and law enforcement making headlines in recent years in addition to the lack of diversity at this year’s Academy Awards, Blacks are trying harder than ever to make changes for people of color.

As a Black person myself, I never thought I’d experience this level of adversity in my adult life.

Sadly, humanity has been divided by racial differences since ancient times. From powerful empires conquering other lands to modern day brutality and other hardships in school, the job site and daily life as a whole.

I have seen and experienced quite a few of the issues that effect people of color first hand.

But, enough of that for now.

Tracy Ellis Ross and Anthony Anderson kept the night entertaining with several comedy sketches throughout the award show one of which included Anthony asking Tracy the question:

“Why are we dressed like the White people in Roots?”

The icing on the cake was the final performance by Sheila E featuring Jerome Benton from The Time and many of Prince’s former band members. Sheila E went to great lengths and poured her heart out on stage.

I found myself in tears by the end of her tribute. Prince was truly her heart and it’s certainly clear as day that Sheila E loves him.

She deserves some recognition for her hard work… Black Girls Rock Awards, anyone?

In all honesty, this year’s BET Awards was over the top!

While I have not been able to attend any of the Prince events that have been held in Los Angeles, New York City and Minneapolis, I hope something will come along in the future or that Paisley Park becomes a museum.

For anyone that was at the BET Awards or participated in the Prince tribute. Great job!

See ya on Wednesday!

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Hey folks!

It’s Monday!

Summer has officially started.

On of the highlights for me will be watching the BET Awards on June 26th, Sunday night.

No words can describe how it feels that the person being honored with a tribute is part of your extended family.

I only wish that I could be there in person but I will be watching.

Tomorrow marks two months since my cousin has been gone. I miss him terribly and I know others do too.

I encourage those who had the opportunity to see him in person or met him to hold on to those memories. They are priceless!

I sadly didn’t get to meet my cousin but had at least four possible moments where he and I could have crossed paths but probably didn’t.

More on that later.

This journey has started, I will continue to post updates of how things work out.

Thanks for stopping by.

See you on Wednesday!

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