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NPR Arts & Life

Prince Releases 'Baltimore'; Holds Concert In Troubled City


And thousands gathered at an arena in downtown Baltimore last night for a rally for peace. It was a concert headlined by Prince, who had not played in the city for over a decade. NPR's Jasmine Garsd reports.


PRINCE: You all ready? One, two, three.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: Thirty-one-year-old Lindsay Webb (ph) is always ready for a Prince concert. She's a pretty big fan.

LINDSAY WEBB: One of the first T-shirts that I owned was a "Purple Rain" T-shirt at 3 years old.

GARSD: She says the concert provided some relief for a city that's been through a lot in the last few weeks.

WEBB: I think it was a good break from all the kind of intense and mostly negative news in the area.

GARSD: As is often his style, Prince announced the concert just a few days before it happened. On Saturday, he also released a brand-new song titled "Baltimore."


PRINCE: (Singing) Does anybody hear us pray for Michael Brown or Freddie Gray?

GARSD: A portion of the proceeds from the concert, although it's not clear how much, will go to local charities and community groups. Part of the concert was broadcast on the music streaming site Tidal, but the price of tickets was not without critics.

BRANDON WEIGEL: Like most people in Baltimore, I was pretty excited when I first heard about the concert.

GARSD: Baltimore City Paper editor Brandon Weigel points out the cheapest tickets went for $22 and quickly sold out. The most expensive cost nearly $500.

WEIGEL: It shows the rift in this city between the haves and the have-nots.


PRINCE: (Singing) Can you just leave me standing? Sing it.

GARSD: Nevertheless, the event attracted people from Baltimore and from as far away as Georgia. Special guests included rapper Doug E. Fresh and R&B singer Miguel. Prince also brought Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby out on stage. Prince only spoke a few words, but coming out of the arena, John Burke (ph) from the Washington D.C. suburbs said the concert was...

JOHN BURKE: Unbelievable.

GARSD: So it was worth the price.

BURKE: Oh yeah, yeah. We paid some good money for it, but I'd pay for it again and again.

GARSD: Burke said it was the music that spoke loudest, and that's what the city needed. Jasmine Garsd, NPR News.


PRINCE: (Singing) Baltimore, evermore. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.