Today, The Prince Estate, in partnership with Warner Bros. Records, released a powerful new video for “Mary Don’t You Weep,” a rare recording of the 19th Century spiritual that is featured on Piano & A Microphone 1983, out tomorrow, September 21s. This is the first original Prince video to be released posthumously. Directed by filmmaker, Salomon Ligthelm through Stink Films, and shot in New York City, the video makes an emotive statement around gun violence and its continued devastating impact on youth in America. The video pays tribute to the nearly 1,300 children that die and 5,790 that are treated for gunshot wounds each year in the United States alone. It puts the effect of what happens when a mother and a community lose a son under the microscope, exploring the agony, the resolve and ultimately hope for change.
The messaging in the video links thematically to Prince’s past activist work in Baltimore in 2015 around the death of Freddie Gray and the resulting riots that ensued in the city and beyond. That year, Prince released a protest song titled “Baltimore” – along with an accompanying documentary style video – directed squarely at the need for more compassion and peace, an ever-present theme he echoed through his career. Prince sings in the song: “Peace is more than the absence of war… We’re tired of cryin’ and people dyin’, let’s take all the guns away”. Beyond the release of the song, Prince hosted a special tribute concert that year in Baltimore on Mother’s Day, titled Rally 4 Peace, described in an official statement at the time as “a catalyst for pause and reflection following the outpouring of violence that has gripped Baltimore and areas throughout the US”. Live streamed on TIDAL and attended by stars including Jay Z, Beyonce and Miguel, the event generated charitable proceeds for a variety of youth focused organizations in the region. The “Baltimore” video ends with a powerful quote Prince delivered during an impassioned speech at his 2015 Rally 4 Peace event: “The system is broken. It’s going to take young people to fix it. We need new ideas, new life…”. The new video for “Mary Don’t You Weep” begins with that same quote, a symbolic reminder underscoring Prince’s earlier messaging on the topic and a timely reflection on the need for positive change.
The Deluxe CD+LP format includes a 12” booklet featuring brand new liner notes written by Prince’s then engineer Don Batts, Revolution member Lisa Coleman and Paisley Park artist Jill Jones, as well as candid shots of Prince including never-before-seen photos and original hand-written lyrics.
The album cover photo captures a rare view of Prince backstage during the 1999 tour. The photo was taken by Prince’s trusted photographer and creative collaborator Allen Beaulieu who worked closely with Prince between 1979-1984. Allen’s work with Prince includes the cover shots for the Dirty Mind and Controversy albums and iconic promotional photos for the 1999 album.
Piano & A Microphone 1983 is a nine track, 35-minute album featuring a previously unreleased home studio cassette recording of Prince solo at his piano captured in 1983. The album is available now to pre-order on CD, LP, Deluxe CD+LP, digital release and pre-save for streaming here. The album provides a rare, intimate glimpse into Prince’s creative process as he worked through songs like “Purple Rain” and “17 Days”, a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case Of You”, “Strange Relationship” (not released until 1987 on his critically acclaimed Sign O’ The Times album), and “International Lover”. “Mary Don’t You Weep” was recently featured during the end credits of Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed film BlackKkKlansman. For fans of Prince’s spontaneous live medleys, tracks 1-7 of the album are presented in that same format as they were originally recorded.
Piano & A Microphone 1983
Track list and credits:
1. 17 Days
2. Purple Rain
3. A Case Of You
4. Mary Don’t You Weep
5. Strange Relationship
6. International Lover
8. Cold Coffee & Cocaine
9. Why The Butterflies
Recorded in 1983 at Prince’s Kiowa Trail home studio in Chanhassen, MN
Engineered by Don Batts