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Lori Kay Blake-Leighton

Purple Passion, 2016. Print from original water color, acrylic, ink.

The first time the music of Prince seriously dug its sharp claws into me was in 1983 with the 1999 album. I was done for. Through the years, I would defend his voice, his garments, his ethnicity and his sexuality to anyone who dared to try me. I knew, I KNEW that this man was not of this world. Oh, yes, he came in the shape of a human, but he was not here to just sing, dance and be sexy. He was here to teach something, and whatever that was - I was here to learn.

Purple Passion, 2016 (detail). Print from original water color, acrylic, ink.

Over the years, I would see him in concert only twice, but I FELT his presence all the time. Since his transition, I have felt him EVERY single everything.

When I saw the news break on CNN, I, like most of the Purple world, went into shock and denial. As it slowly sank in, I sank with it...into a deep depression. The wailing that came from my body was guttural...almost animalistic. I didn't recognize it, as I have never experienced that type of pain before.

For 3 weeks I laid in bed. Not eating or drinking and crying myself to family began to worry about me. I was an empty shell.

My husband, who knew from the moment we met how I felt about this extraordinary performer, was so supportive.

One day my 8 year old granddaughter came over and wanted to paint. She too knew my feelings for Prince.When she asked me to paint as well, I told her that I just didn't have it in me.

I hadn't picked up a brush since he left us and I told her I wouldn't know what to paint anyway. She said..."Nana, you NEED to paint Prince." Out of the mouth of babes...

Needless to say, I did just that.

Lori Kay Blake-Leighton was born and raised in Alturas California (the REAL northern California) and has live in Washington state for the past 30 years. She is a wife, mother, grandmother (Nana), co-author of 4 books, an artist and the great grandniece of Will Rogers...Oklahoma's Favorite Son.

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