Everyone’s heard of the landmark Prince album “Purple Rain,” right?
DeAngela Duff said too many college students are unfamiliar with that great music and the iconic artist who created it.
She’s trying to change that.
Duff, an associate professor of art and technology at Spelman College and an avid Prince fan, is trying to increase the exposure of His Purple Majesty with a two-day symposium Friday and Saturday on the Atlanta campus about Prince’s “Batman” soundtrack. The album, and the Tim Burton movie, turns 30 this year and, coincidentally, it’s the 80th anniversary of the Batman comic book.
It’s the first time Spelman has had such teaching and Duff believes it’s the first time a historically black college and university has had a symposium on Prince, the barrier-breaking, African-American artist who died in 2016. The symposium will be held at the college’s Camille Cosby Auditorium and it’s free.
“My mission is to keep Prince on the lips of the children,” Duff, 48, said in an interview Wednesday. “I want Prince to be as relevant as Jimi Hendrix.”
(Hendrix, for those who wear his T-shirts but don’t know about him, is a legendary guitarist whose career was way too short.)
The symposium will feature about 20 speakers, including one from Britain, Duff said. Chuck Zwicky, the “Batman” soundtrack’s sound engineer, will be a keynote speaker.
Duff said she became a Prince fan when she was 10, and has since done several podcasts on the musician.
The “Batman” soundtrack doesn’t get its due from ardent Prince fans who consider it too mainstream and commercialized, Duff said, and the criticism is scandalous. The album, the last of his stellar 1980s run that birthed classics from “1999,” to “Sign Of the Times,” to the landmark “Purple Rain,” was keyboard heavy and showcased Prince’s many skills.
“It was a stellar album,” she said of the soundtrack, which spent six weeks atop the Billboard albums chart and sold over eleven million copies worldwide.
Duff has done symposiums on other Prince albums, including “Sign ‘O’ the Times” and “Lovesexy,” and there are courses on the artist at schools in Minnesota where he’s from. This is Duff’s first year at Spelman and she had to do a symposium here.
Duff, who sprinkles in Prince references in her classes and has posters of him on her office walls, said the artist is culturally important for being one of the first musicians to share his work through the internet and because he loved women.
“Let me explain,” she said, smiling about Prince’s famed romances with several female celebrities. Prince supported the careers of many female artists and sound engineers, she said.
She thinks Prince would be pleased about a symposium at Spelman, an all-women’s college for African-Americans.
“He deserves deep study,” she said.
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