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'Make it Funky VI' will focus on roots, legacy of Prince

Monday, April 10, 2017

LAWRENCE — The Twin Cities roots of the late musical superstar Prince will be explored at “Make it Funky VI,” an annual funk-music seminar organized by Anthony Bolden, University of Kansas associate professor of African & African-American studies.

Scot Brown, associate professor of African-American studies at the University of California-Los Angeles, has titled his talk “Red, Black and Green Rain: Prince and Black Minneapolis.” Kansas City D.J. Approach will provide the beats because, Bolden says, no one could approach the musicianship of Prince.

The event, set for 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, at the Lawrence Arts Center, is free and open to the public. A reception will follow Brown’s talk. It is sponsored by KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and Department of African & African-American Studies.

Bolden, who is working on a book on funk music, said he started “Make it Funky” when he arrived at KU. Previous events have focused on such artists as Kendrick Lamar and Lauryn Hill.

“It’s unique in that it has always combined what I call hip scholarship that is accessible to people and not just academics with performance – the idea being that people learn in different ways. Young people may not catch the critical perspective, but they can understand it through performance.”

Bolden says Brown is also working on a book on funk, in his case focusing on Dayton, Ohio, home to such groups as the Ohio Players and Slave and now the Funk Music Hall of Fame & Exhibition Center.

“He approaches Dayton as a case study on how different forces allowed funk to develop – the public-school system, the economy – and he will use that approach in his talk on Prince,” Bolden said.

Prince Rogers Nelson died almost exactly one year ago at age 58 following an amazingly productive and successful career as a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and actor. He won seven Grammy Awards. He also won an Academy Award (Best Original Song Score) for his work on the 1984 film “Purple Rain.” He was inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. 

Image: Prince in 2009. Photo by Nicolas Genin, via WikiCommons.