Beyoncé has penned a foreword to Prince: A Private View, a forthcoming book of photographs by Afshin Shahidi. The photographs themselves, of course, are stunning — documenting Prince in settings ranging from Tokyo to Morocco to Paisley Park, coupled with Shahidi’s recollections. Given how rare public statements of any kind by Beyoncé are, though, it’s her contribution that’s made initial headlines.
Previously, all we’ve known of her foreword was a single sentence: “Truth be told, the word ‘icon’ only scratches the surface of what Prince was and what he remains to me.” The book comes out Oct. 24, and review copies have now been mailed to press, including The Current. You’ll have to pick up the book to read the full foreword, but we can share a few highlights.
Dated June 2017, the foreword is short but moving, with Beyoncé expressing her vast admiration for Prince’s art and innovation, calling him “my mentor” and particularly praising his vaunted independence. “He dared to fight for what was rightfully his: his freedom, wrapped up in words and music he created.”
She adds that when Prince wrote SLAVE on his face as part of his dispute with Warner Bros. in 1993, it “taught me a valuable lesson about ownership, entrepreneurship, and independence.”
In the final section of her foreword, Beyoncé reminisces about performing with Prince at the 46th Grammy Awards. Noting Prince’s impeccable style, “shy, almost mischievous smile,” and “commanding presence,” she says their shared rehearsals were full of “teachable moments” in which Prince shared “gems” — most of which “I will keep only in my heart.” The night of Feb. 8, 2004, she says, “will continue to be a highlight of my career.”
“Prince’s timing was genius and his sense of humor, spontaneous and unexpected,” she writes in conclusion. “At the end of the ‘Purple Rain’/’Let’s Go Crazy’/’Crazy in Love’ medley, I had no idea he would say what he did. We did talk about making a face but when he blurted out, ‘Don’t hate us ’cause we fab,’ it took everything I had to keep my composure.”
Over 100 of the images in the book have never been seen before, and we’ll soon be covering the book in more depth as part of our Rock and Roll Book Club. Preorder information is available at macmillan.com.