President Obama and the First Family celebrated International Jazz Day at the White House on April 30 with a stellar concert. While other legends took the stage to honor the history and influence of music’s pioneering genre, Aretha Franklin took some time to honor another trailblazer, Prince, with a cover of his classic single, “Purple Rain.”
“I don’t need to tell this crowd the story of jazz, from its humble origins as the music of the black working class, largely invisible to the mainstream. It went on to become America’s most significant artistic contribution to the world,” President Obama said during his opening remarks.
Following his speech, jazz legends like Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin and Chick Corea, and singers Sting, and Esperanza Spalding, took the stage for memorable performances. Aretha Franklin also took that stage, where she began with a performance of Leon Russell’s “A Song for You,”which she also covered earlier in her career with Donny Hathaway and Ray Charles. Then the soul legend took the stage again to sing a portion of Prince’s “Purple Rain.”
“He was definitely an original and a one-of-a-kind. There was truly only one Prince,” the singer told MSNBC in an interview following the shocking news of Prince’s death. “He put his stamp [on his sound]. Prince is gone but his music lives on. There was a mystique about him that made you want to know a little more about him. Kind of like Stevie [Wonder], he was one of those artists that loved to go into and stay in the studio,” she continued.
Her brief cover was one of the many following the late icon’s death. Check out Aretha Franklin singing “Purple Rain” during the International Jazz Day celebration below (around the 3:18 mark).