The city of Baltimore has been rocked by the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African-American who died in police custody. Six of the officers involved in Gray’s arrest now face criminal charges ranging from false imprisonment to murder.
The concert, which will reportedly feature a number of yet-to-be-revealed guest stars, is scheduled to be held at the Royal Farms Arena. Attendees will be encouraged to wear gray as a tribute to the victims of violence everywhere. Prince staged a similarly themed show (entitled, “DANCE RALLY 4 PEACE”) this past weekend at his Paisley Park recording studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
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According to E!’s Lindsay Good, Prince told last weekend’s audience “RIP to those lost,” and thanked concertgoers for wearing gray. At the end of the show he reportedly led fans in a chant of “Baltimore … peace for ever more.”
The “Purple Rain” singer had previously announced plans via his publicist to release a song in solidarity with protesters simply entitled “Baltimore.” Although that song has yet to be released, Prince’s rep Yvette Noel-Schure has confirmed that it “addresses the unrest in Baltimore and the socio/political issues around the country in the wake of a slew of killings of young black men.”
Although mostly know for his sexually explicit lyrics and signature funky dance songs, Prince has occasionally dabbled in social commentary with his music. In 1981, his song “Ronnie, Talk to Russia” touched on anxieties over the nuclear arms race. His classic 1987 hit “Sign of the Times” addressed the AIDS epidemic and drug use. And the music video for his 2004 song “Cinnamon Girl” dealt with Islamaphobia following September 11th. The video caused controversy for depicting an Arab-American teenager imagining herself as a suicide bomber after being bullied.
Most recently, the “Little Red Corvette” singer raised eyebrows with the pointed remarks he made while presenting the Album of the Year award at the Grammys. “Albums — remember those?” Prince said before opening the envelope to reveal the winner. “Albums still matter. Albums, like books and black lives, still matter.”
Tickets for Prince’s “RALLY FOR PEACE” will go on sale on May 6 at 5 p.m. EST via LiveNation.com. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to youth-oriented charities based in Baltimore. However, there is no official release date for his “Baltimore” single.
FOX 9, an affiliate station in Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis reports that the lyrics read:
Nobody got in nobody’s way
So I guess you could say
It was a good day
At least a little better than the day in Baltimore
Does anybody hear us pray?
For Michael Brown or Freddie Gray
Peace is more than the absence of war
Absence of war
Are we gonna see another bloody day?
We’re tired of cryin’ and people dyin’
Let’s take all the guns away
Absence of war—you and me
Maybe we can finally say
Enough is enough, it’s time for love
It’s time to hear
It’s time to hear
The guitar play!
The Daily Beast spoke to Iris Perez, a FOX 9 reporter, who got an advance listen to the still-unreleased track. “’Baltimore’ may likely be among Prince’s most powerful socio-political songs,” Perez reportedly said. “It’s very moving.”
Additional reporting by Bridget Todd