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Book now for Purple Reign:An Interdisciplinary Conference on the Life and Legacy of Prince

Apr 18, 2017

Book now to secure your place
Book now to secure your place

An original member of The Revolution will talk about his time playing with Prince as part of the first ever conference devoted to the music legend.

Buildings across the city will be turned purple to mark the University of Salford’s Purple Reign: An Interdisciplinary Conference on the Life and Legacy of Prince held at The Lowry arts centre and the University’s MediaCityUK campus on May 24-26.

The event, hosted by the University and their US partners Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), will pay tribute to the star who died last April, and is thought to be the first ever conference dedicated solely to the Minneapolis-born funk legend.

Academics from New York University, Harvard University, Stanford University and the prestigious Smithsonian museum complex in the USA, as well as from the University of Amsterdam and from Australia, Canada and New Zealand will come to Salford to discuss the lasting impact Prince had on popular culture.

Alex Case, president of the USA’s Audio Engineering Society, as well as artists from around the world will also visit the conference to discuss Prince’s legacy.

Prince fans will be able to listen to Dez Dickerson, who sang backing vocals and played guitar in Prince’s original band, talk about his experiences touring and recording with the star during a public event at the University of Salford’s Peel Hall on May 24.

Dez, who performed on tracks such as 1999 and Little Red Corvette, will take questions from the audience and talk in conversation with Ken Paulson, Dean of the MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, who is also a columnist and former editor of USA Today.

Home Manchester will also mark the event by screening the 1986 musical drama Under the Cherry Moon, which Prince directed and starred in, alongside Kristin Scott Thomas and Steven Berkoff. The screening on May 25 will also be preceded by a panel discussion of music industry experts. 

The University of Salford’s Peel Hall and MediaCityUK buildings, as well as Salford City Council’s Swinton Civic Centre will be lit up in purple throughout the conference.

The City Council will also be working with the University to engage local communities and schools and colleges to encourage performances, workshops and arts projects in celebration of Prince’s life.

Meanwhile, students from the University’s music programmes will perform Prince songs at a closing party for conference delegates on May 26 while art and design students will create branding for the event.

Dr Kirsty Fairclough, Senior Lecturer from the School of Arts & Media said: “Prince’s death was one of 2016’s saddest losses, but this event will give us a wonderful opportunity to celebrate his life and to examine the remarkable impact he had as a musician, a songwriter and a style icon who changed our ideas of celebrity forever.

“Prince touched the lives of thousands of people and so we want this to be much more than simply an academic conference. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, this will be a truly landmark event which will be for everyone, welcoming Dez Dickerson to Salford to offer fans a unique insight into this most enigmatic star, lighting buildings across the city purple and arranging a series of public events to involve the local community.”

Prof Mike Alleyne, from the Department of Recording Industry at MTSU, who has written extensively on popular music and acted as consultant to the estate of Marvin Gaye in the Blurred Lines copyright infringement case, said: “After Prince’s sudden demise last year, Kirsty and I began discussing ways to recognise his creative and cultural legacies. Ultimately, we decided an academic conference would be an ideal vehicle.

“In an era of instant and transient celebrity, it’s well worth celebrating someone whose artistic longevity will clearly outlast any fleeting fame, and whose credibility remains intact despite stardom and massive commercial success.”

City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “Salford has a reputation as creative and innovative – just like Prince – and music and the arts have always played a major role in its life. It’s a fantastic opportunity to honour one of the best selling artists of all time and show young people across Greater Manchester that following your dream can lead to incredible success.”  

Rachel Hayward, HOME’s Programme Manager for Film, said: “We are excited to be part of the University of Salford’s exploration and celebration of the work Prince, an artist whose multi-artform creative output is particularly attractive to HOME.  

“Prince’s directorial debut Under the Cherry Moon is rarely seen in UK cinemas, and this opportunity to see the film on 35mm in our biggest screen will be a cinematic treat for music and film fans alike.”  

Anyone wanting to attend the conference or the Dez Dickerson event should visit http://blogs.salford.ac.uk/prince-conference/

Further details of how to buy tickets for the Dez Dickerson event will be published shortly, while HOME Manchester will publish details of the Under The Cherry Moon screening.