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At Paisley Park, Prince's 'mystical aura' lives on

Copyright © africanews
Stacy Bengs/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


The large white building, in the suburbs of Minneapolis in the north of the United States, could look like an abandoned shopping mall or an office building: welcome to Paisley Park, Prince's home and music studio, now transformed into a museum.

Outside, only a large purple statue of the "Love symbol" reminds the visitor that the place, a complex of about 6,000 square meters, belonged to the artist who died five years ago.

Located right next to a highway, in the municipality of Chanhassen, Paisley Park served as the home and creative garden of the virtuoso. A sanctuary where he lived for nearly three decades before collapsing in an elevator and dying shortly thereafter from an accidental overdose of painkillers.

Sunlight streams in through the glass pyramid that crowns the complex. Inside, white doves watch over the large atrium painted with blue skies and cottony clouds.

With four studios and a recording studio, as well as a club, Paisley Park has hosted artists such as Madonna, Miles Davis and Patti LaBelle for years, as well as hosting concerts and impromptu shows. A place of pilgrimage even before the artist's death at 57, the estate has now taken on a new life as a museum.

Faced with heavy tax expenses after Prince's death, his heirs have sought to monetize the grounds. Six days a week, fans can enjoy guided tours that range in price from $45 to $160.

- "A mystical aura" -

At the entrance, you must leave your cell phone in a special pouch. Photos are not allowed in most of the estate, an attempt to remain consistent with the artist's wishes.

"Prince always preferred that you experience things here at Paisley through your own eyes rather than with your camera," says Mitch Maguire, the resort's general manager, during an AFP visit.

According to him, "Prince really had a gift for evoking a mystical aura."

The rooms where the artist lived are completely off-limits, as is the vault where he stored thousands of unreleased tracks.

The exhibition rooms house souvenirs of the singer and composer, between gold records, flashy costumes, motorcycles and a purple room, a tribute to his flagship album "Purple Rain".

The recording stage, designed for concerts and rehearsals for the tour, is now covered with a giant screen that broadcasts archives.

In another room, a special exhibit features hundreds of shoes custom-made for Prince - high-heeled booties, platform sneakers, roller skates - whose extravagance recalls the artist's glamorous side.

- "Not enough words" -

Prince was a pillar of the Minneapolis cultural scene. He regularly held unannounced concerts in Paisley Park. And years before he ran the museum, Mitch Maguire was a fan in the crowd.

"I think the access we've had, as people in this community, to Prince's genius is unparalleled," he says.

As for seeing him perform here, "I don't think there are enough words in the dictionary to accurately explain it," he continues.

Paisley Park continues to host music events and has also served as a recording studio for artists, including Beck.

"Part of preserving Prince's legacy is just continuing to make this place a creative space," adds Mitch Maguire.

In 1985, two years before the venue was opened to the public, the song "Paisley Park" appeared on Prince's seventh album, "Around The World In a Day." In it, he described a utopian community that was both spiritual and concrete.

"Love is the color there," Prince sang. "Entry is easy / Just say you believe".