Prince was more than a musical legend – he was a friend.
That’s how singer Meli’sa Morgan knew him. She became acquainted with him in 1986 when he allowed her to cover his song “Do Me, Baby.” His original version, released four years earlier, never charted but hers shot to No. 1 as a Billboard R&B single. After recording it, she was in Los Angeles for a Lionel Richie concert, which Prince was also attending, and he requested to meet Morgan and a friendship was born.
“I was in the greenroom and I met him backstage,” Morgan, 51, recalls during a phone interview. “And he said ‘Thank you for a great song.’ I told him it was his song but he said, ‘You made it great.’ That’s how we met.”
After that, whenever Morgan and Prince were in the same city at the same time, they caught up and hung out. “At Paisley Park, he had a department that made all his clothes and shoes and another area for his recording studio,” Morgan recalls. “A lot of artists would go there and record but I went there for a party. Through the years, we stayed in contact and if he knew I was in town, he would invite me over.”
Morgan says the Prince she knew was kind, sweet and generous and it broke her heart to hear that her friend had died at just 57 years old.
“When he would talk to you, you felt like you were the only one in the room,” Morgan says. “He just had that knack. You never felt like he had anything else to do. He would take that time and give you an eye-to-eye conversation and you felt special for that moment.”
Prince helped Morgan by letting her sing his song and over the years, continued to mentor and produce a number of artists on their way to the top. The list includes Alicia Keys, Sheena Easton, Sheila E, Rihanna, 3rdEyeGirl, Vanity, Liv Warfield and Judith Hill.
Rihanna and Keys paid tribute to the Purple One while performing April 21, the day he died, while Hill struggled to find a way to express her grief. Prince co-produced Hill’s album, "Back In Time," which was recorded at Paisley Studios and released late last year. He was also her mentor.
“I absolutely have no words at this moment and am in deep shock,” Hill says. “This is a devastating loss not just for myself, but for all who loved him.”
Morgan isn’t surprised that so many people feel crushed by Prince’s death and says it’s a testament of his commitment to reach back and uplift.
“The thing I loved about him is that he wasn’t selfish with his gifts,” Morgan says. “He always had someone that he was mentoring or developing or nurturing. And that’s a great gift. So many people are selfish with their gifts because they want all the accolades and success. The music industry is so selfish. But he was giving.”