Sistas in the Temple: Exploring the Presence of Black Women in Prince’s Art & Life

Black women have played an integral role in Prince’s art and life. Although the myopic focus of mainstream media often renders these women faceless and nameless, even the most cursory exploration of his work reveals that black women were omnipresent. From lovers and protégés to musicians, dancers, and everything between, discourse on Prince is incomplete without the inclusion of black women. This presentation will employ the film Graffiti Bridge as a unique framework for exploring the myriad roles in which Prince cast black women in all facets of his life. In doing so, it seeks to deconstruct the narrative of colorism and exclusion that has dogged Prince as it relates to black women as well as to shine a proper spotlight on the contributions of these talented sistas to his legacy.

Kamilah Cummings

Kamilah Cummings is a writer, editor, and visiting senior lecturer in writing and communications at DePaul University in Chicago. In addition to presenting at Purple Reign (University of Salford), the EYE NO Prince Lovesexy Symposium (NYU), and the Batdance Symposium (Spelman), she has developed the interdisciplinary course Prince: A New Breed Leader. Her essay “Sisters in the Shadows: an Examination of Prince’s “Strange Relationship” with Black Women” is featured in the Howard University Journal of Communications special issue Prince in/as Blackness: Explorations of a music icon and racial politics. She has also contributed to the forthcoming publication Prince and Popular Music: Critical Perspectives on an Interdisciplinary Life. A lover of House music as well, she has presented on House music and taught her original course The House Chicago Built. Her research interests include exploring the intersections of media, pop culture, and history in representations and constructions of black identity.