Party Like It's 1999 With the Music of Prince

Prince's music and legacy will be celebrated July 15 with the Houston Symphony.
Prince's music and legacy will be celebrated July 15 with the Houston Symphony. Photo courtesy of the Houston Symphony
The Purple One may have permanently left the building, but his musical influence still holds as much impact and presence as when he was still with us. In honor of his legacy, the Houston Symphony will gift us with a night of funk and soul during The Music of Prince on July 15.

Prince – or the artist formerly known as Prince, depending on when you grew up – is the man behind the music that formed the soundtrack to our lives. We've all strutted to “Kiss,” let loose with “Let’s Go Crazy,” partied like it’s “1999” and clutched our best friends in a howling karaoke version of “Purple Rain.”

Admit it, you’ve done it too.

Everyone loves Prince, which is why this summer one-night-only show is a guaranteed pleaser for all ages.

“It’s an evening of his greatest hits backed up by the Houston Symphony,” said guest conductor Brent Havens.

Before he could even bring this concert to fruition, Havens first had to know if Prince’s music catalog would be translatable to a symphonic setting. 
click to enlarge Marshall Charloff just wants your extra time and your kiss. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE HOUSTON SYMPHONY
Marshall Charloff just wants your extra time and your kiss.
Photo courtesy of the Houston Symphony

“We look at the data and do our homework. We look through the catalogs and make sure that it will work with an orchestra. Sometimes there are things that won’t work,” he said.

Lucky for us, Prince has plenty of music that works incredibly well with the orchestra, according to Havens.

The music legend first got his start in 1978 when he was signed to Warner Bros. Records. His funky grooves, superfluous wardrobe, unique vocal style and guitar riffs soon took the world by storm, and a star was born. He would go on to create nearly 40 albums and snatch seven Grammy Awards and an Academy Award before his death in April 2016.

For any Prince-themed concert, a lead singer is a necessity. To help fill that need, Havens recruited Marshall Charloff, whom he found thanks to the modern marvels of the Internet.

“When I’m looking for artists to work with, we put the word out through channels in the music industry. In this case, I happened to be on YouTube and I saw him perform with his band Purple Xperience,” says Havens. “I called him up, and he was available.”

And that, as they say, was that.
Together, Charloff and the band, along with the symphony orchestra, will play 18 of Prince’s songs.

“We try and go through much of his career and pull out some older songs and newer songs. We try to highlight most of the areas of his career,” says Havens. He adds that the audience can count on all the big hits being in the show.

Havens is no stranger to creating shows around the legends of music. He also helped create previous Houston Symphony concerts built around the music of Led Zeppelin, Queen and David Bowie.

Just like his previous shows, The Music of Prince promises to be an unforgettable night. Havens has performed it more than a dozen times in other cities, and it is always greeted by a roaring, excited audience.

Regarding previous performances, he says, “I gave the first downbeat from the podium, and the place exploded. People were right on their feet from the get-go. It's hard not to get on your feet. The music is up-tempo and exciting. It’s a blast.”

The Music of Prince plays at 7:30 p.m. July 15 at Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit$29-$139.

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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd