6 months ago, the World seemed to stop spinning for the legions of Prince fans including me. When we heard the news of our beloved Prince being found unresponsive in that elevator at Paisley Park, the Purple Army and those close to them gasped with a collective pain that, even today, has not gone away. I was fortunate to have friends and family around (and even the Associated Press) to talk to about this incredible loss but it still hurts. Last month, his former band, The Revolution, performed in his honor at the legendary First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis and just this past week, Prince’s family held the Official Prince Tribute in his hometown. Although I was not able to attend due to previous commitments, I couldn’t think of anyone else to provide an insider’s view on her pilgrimage to the hallowed ground known as Paisley Park other than Tamika Sharpe. As our newest contributor, Tammy, as she is more popularly known to the Worldwide Prince family, shares her first person experience from this past weekend. Enjoy.
“Paisley Park Will Always Be In My Heart”
by Tammy Sharpe
I’m Tammy Sharpe, a long time Prince disciple. The last time I was in Paisley Park was January 21, 2016…unbeknownst to me, this would be the LAST Prince concert I would attend. As you know, Prince transitioned on April 21, 2016. Here we are 6 months later and I decided that I had to see if this was truly real. I felt it was important for me to pay my respects and say goodbye to a man whose music meant the world to me (and to all of us). How would I feel returning back knowing he wouldn’t pop-up out of nowhere like he usually would? What the average person might not get is Paisley Park was our musical Disney World; a haven away from the world. Prince served as our Willy Wonka serving every musical delight, often inviting us into his abode. When you enter those doors you lose track of time… the vibe is simply joy!
But, of course, I couldn’t go on this tour without my friend Portia Chinnery, another fellow die-hard Prince fan, and enter the doors of what will now be a museum. We were bussed to Paisley Park by shuttle and dropped off in front of the door. I had knots in my chest. Once there, we were instructed by a Paisley Park employee there would be NO PICTURES and our phones would be placed in lock bags in preparation for our VIP 11:15 am tour (I’m going to call it “The Paisley Experience” since the word “tour” feels so cold and impersonal). I was truly afraid that Prince’s vision for the museum would somehow turn into a spectacle overrun by too many people. Upon entering the atrium, we were led down a hall where Prince’s many awards/plaques over the years lined the wall along with a framed letter from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama expressing their deepest condolences.
Our group was rather small less than 10 people and our tour guide’s name was Shawn. He was a fantastic person, who went to school for audio engineering, so he knew about music. That said, I found myself lagging behind in disbelief. At one point, we stopped in a sunlit atrium where the first of many installations appeared. It was the Sign O’ The Times room and was complete with the fly shaggy coat/denim jacket /drum kit and the concert playing on a flat screen. In my peripheral vision, I noticed a white podium with a glass square case a bejeweled symbol outside. Inside of this glass case, there was a replica of Paisley Park. I walk over and saw a small purple box. In the background, I could hear a woman, A Paisley Park employee, in the distance say “If you would like to stop and pay your respects, he’s here.” I was frozen in my steps while uncontrollable tears streamed down my face. The group behind, waiting to enter, could see me become unhinged. I didn’t care. Anyone entering this building should know that this ain’t no freak show. He was VERY much real and loved and only 6 months from that horrible day and the wound is still fresh for all of us.
At that point, my eyes looked up and I saw two huge birdcages. I suddenly calmed down a bit when I realized it was Divinity and Majesty, Prince’s white doves (yes, he has doves). A woman was feeding them and a sense of peace came over me knowing his babies are watching over him.
I gathered myself to catch up with my group even though I know the lay of the land. We were led to his editing room with his favorite books, movies etc. Surprisingly, while he lived in the present, he kept EVERYTHING and the house is in pristine OCD-level order. I can relate. We saw all of the the pianos and instruments from prior tours that I’ve gone to over the years. Finally, we went into his studio where some of the greatest material has been recorded.
What broke my heart was going into the main stage area to stand in the last place I saw him live for the “Piano & Microphone” show. The piano is still in the same spot and on the screen is playing the last song he would ever sing inside of his home, “FREE URSELF.” The hardest thing for me to do was to say goodbye and accept what some might feel would be the end of an era. The truth is that he is gone on to another realm. PRINCE WILL 4EVER REIGN, as will his music. As for me and countless others, we’ve taken a lifetime lease and Paisley Park will always be in our hearts.
Interested in touring Paisley Park? Click Here for details.
About the author:
Tammy Sharpe is a Brooklyn native is a visual merchandiser. She’s an avid concert goer, who loves the music of Prince. First and foremost, she is a a purveyor of sound.