Dear Prince: You had me at ‘Controversy’

Somehow it’s hard to imagine Prince resting in peace. In the afterlife, I see him making divine music, dancing up a storm and–yes–throwing shade all over the place.

Many of us fans may believe we really understood Prince, really “got” him. My own sense is that he probably experienced great happiness, tremendous joy, and deep dark times. He certainly lived; no doubt there were few things he wanted to try that he didn’t try.PRINCE

The first concert I ever went to was Prince: The LoveSexy Tour. My boyfriend and I were among the fans at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Halloween in 1988.

RELATED: See list of every concert Prince played in the state of Michigan

Random concert impressions:

  • Sheila E. being a virtuoso on the drums
  • Prince playing the keyboard rising from the stage atop a heart-shaped column
  • There was a bed on the stage
  • There was a basketball hoop on the stage
  • There was a full-scale replica of his Ford Thunderbird on the stage

Memory is not always reliable, but I have a strong recollection of my first Prince moment: Hearing “Controversy,” on Radio Belize. I must have been around 12 years old.

“I just can’t believe
All the things people say, controversy
Am I black or white?
Am I straight or gay? Controversy

Do I believe in God?
Do I believe in me?
Controversy, controversy

[Release date: October 14, 1981]

Any guesses which line jumped out at me? I was impressed by the music, and blown away by the reference to being biracial; I could not recall ever hearing such a thing in music.

Learning of Prince’s death felt like a light going out. One moment he was here: bright and eternal. The next, gone. It was good to live in a world in which Prince also lived. Now I console myself with my concert memories, my Prince music collection (good thing I kept his CDs), and the thought that we shared a planet for a time.


It’s not easy being green: Here’s to new growth in challenging times


A good friend of mine has taken the plunge, and not just any plunge. Vickie Newton, a broadcast news staple in St. Louis for more than 11 years, announced in July that she’s leaving the anchor desk at KMOV-TV.

Here’s the announcement post on her Facebook page:

“Whew! Talk about major decisions. Deciding to resign took months of praying and evaluating what I would like to do at this stage in my life. After 25 years, I decided I wanted to tell a different kind of story…one that is consistently committed to sharing the many uplifting stories about African-Americans. Two years ago, I founded an online magazine, TheVillageCelebration. It is for anyone who wants to read about the rich tradition of African-Americans.”

I first got to know Vickie when she was a reporter and morning news anchor at WDIV-TV in Detroit. Her career journey took her to Atlanta and then brought her to St. Louis. I know she’s been hankering to get back to her hometown of Little Rock, so their gain is our loss! Full disclosure: I contribute to; in fact Vickie was one of the first people to give me work when I took my own plunge in February!

Just doing it

It takes a lot to take the plunge. People who decide to make course corrections in their lives all have their reasons, and these are often so complicated and commingled it can be tough to articulate or share with family, friends and colleagues. Sometimes hindsight is the only way to figure it all out.

A recent Huffington Post item from another former TV news anchor really hit home for me. Rene Syler made it all the way to the “big dance,” a network news spot with CBS in New York. Then, everything changed. She lost her job. She decided to have a preventative mastectomy. She got a bad relaxer and her hair fell out. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“I was like Job. How much worse could things be? I lost my job, I lost my breasts, I lost my hair. But now I look back and I think in losing all those things I really found myself and who I’m supposed to be. The best way to describe it would be the me that people see on the outside finally matches the me on the inside.”

Now Rene is living the dream, a dream she never envisioned: She wrote a book called, Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book Of Parenting, and parlayed its success into a business. In addition to her parenting blog, she makes personal and television appearances.

Check out Rene Syler’s Blog “Good Enough Mother”

I never thought…

When a person begins to find success in her career, especially success that has been hard won, making a change may be the last thing on her mind. The itch got to me sometime last summer and I forged out on my own in February. Like Vickie, I chose to resign; to walk toward something I hoped would bring me closer to where I wanted to be. Like Rene, I find myself wondering…

“I never ever thought I would be in this place…. ‘Is this going to work?’ When you work for people your entire life, the idea of being able to do whatever you want, to be your own boss is a really cool and wonderfully freeing thing. Sometimes all of that freedom is scary, but that’s what I would say is the most gratifying.”

The great thing about it all…

You CAN do it. People may think you are crazy, others will call you brave. Still others will say, “I wish I could do that.” Maybe today is not the day, but it’s good to start thinking about the things you love to do and figure out how you might get people to pay you for those things. Maybe it’ll all be one big flop. Here’s to trying!

  1. Start tallying your talents, skills, abilities, credibility, trust capital, and experience
  2. Think about who your support network will be — morally and professionally
  3. Talk to people who do what you want to do

Sometimes change happens to you. At other times, you lead the way. Be ready.

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