PRINCE, Fleetwood Mac, Don Henley, Sheena Easton & MORE
Here are my years and some of my experiences mostly kept a secret until now. It's time for me to tell some of my personal stories with the greatest music legends of our time.
The Prince Years - 5 of them - many recordings and great memories:
Prince discovered me singing live on TV on a popular TV show called "Twin Cities Live" and I was singing a pop dance tune. Then, he showed up in that legendary Minneapolis nightclub called "Rupert's" and sent his bodyguard backstage and asked me to go into the recording studio immediately. I was singing at least 5 hours a night, 5 nights a week, plus doing commercials for Terry Esau for Pepsi, Polaris, Valleyfair, etc. so, with those commitments, I had to turn Prince down on several occasions until he said he was putting me on retainer so I would never say no to him. After that, I didn't.
I worked with Prince for 5 years in the studio on many songs and he even wrote a song with my name as the title called "Jana Jade's Army" that's in the vault, (which is my equivalent of a Grammy...haha), and we got to know each other after many lead and background vocal recordings for Prince and his artists, including myself as one of his acts. Jana Jade's Army is now my Instagram name. Prince and I sat elbow to elbow for most recording sessions at the console in Paisley Park. When I heard mega stars, both singing legends and movie stars talk about how they wish they could work with Prince, I realize how mind blowing it is he chose me for so many years. He never hit on me or even used my face in anything public. I was simply his studio singer. When I was at Paisley one night singing with a different engineer and producer, they came and got me and said Prince was on the phone for me. He told me he wanted to do a house music CD where I was the lead. However, I had to choose between that and the music I was already recording with hit songwriter/producer of Paula Abdul hits, Oliver Leiber and chose Oliver. That wasn't my best career move as Oliver couldn't finish the Sony Records CD he promised me, due to personal reasons.
Prince also co-wrote a song for me to sing lead called "M.P.L.S. of which he titled the band (basically, all of us who sang and played on the song) M.P.L.S. also." I sang my own name in that song. I was the lead singer and he made it the first track on a CD he produced and wrote most of called "1-800-New-Funk". By the time it was released, I was already working with the man who co-wrote 7 songs on Mariah Carey's first CD and that new co-songwriter of mine didn't want Prince to release it. Well, Prince released the CD, not the single or video, but he made a video with cartoon characters in my likeness and all the people who played on the song "M.P.L.S." That video is still in the vault and it would be my dream for it to be released for the first time along with the song. I also am the last song on the CD because he made a remix that is the reprise. I believe Sonny T. co-wrote it with Prince.
I am on Prince's movie soundtrack, "Graffiti Bridge" and I'm the only woman singing background vocals, where Prince was my engineer for "The Time" song titled "Shake". It was a single released worldwide for his movie. When Prince was engineering my vocals for "Shake", there's a vocal lick in there that came out of me and he said exactly this, "What color are you from the waist down?" We laughed. I remember praying to God something great would come out of me because I had never heard the song, I had just learned it right there, as usual, you have to be lightning fast, and I hoped for the best. Prince was also the fastest and best engineer I've ever worked for, and that's saying a lot. He simply was the best at everything. Prince rarely fed me lines or melodies. In all the rumors of him being a control freak, he was the exact opposite with me.
I'm also not given credit for a song on "The Time" CD titled "Pandemonium" with the song being "My Summertime Thang". I shared the microphone with Rosie Gaines and Margaret Cox on some of the recordings where you can't separate the vocals, and also shared the microphone singing between Morris Day and Jerome Benton on other songs that were never released but I have only because they were sent to me. They are also in the vault and pretty awesome. In the credits on "Pandemonium", Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and their company overlooked giving me credit on the CD. They called me Blondie or Stella. Stella was a nickname Prince gave me in one of their songs. They didn't do proper business in checking into the names of those on the CD, which includes me.
I'm also mentioned in a book written by the name "Uptown Staff", with the booked titled, "Uptown Presents Days of Wild, A Documentary of Prince" where I should be mentioned on pages 54 and the years following for certain things like the background vocalist on "Shake" with The Time, "My Summertime Thang" where I shared the microphone with Jerome Benton and Morris Day, "Corporate World", and others, but, nobody knew me or how much I worked with Prince or how many recordings I was on because nobody took down my name for several album/CD credits. I was either called M.P.L.S., Stella, or Blondie on some songs. I did get album credit on Shake, The Graffiti Bridge soundtrack. Today, not even the tightest Minneapolis crew have included me in any Prince tributes but I'm sure they don't even know it was me all that time. The book mentions Elisa Fiorillo's song "Playgirl", where I'm a background singer but only Rosie Gaines and Margaret Cox are regularly mentioned, besides the famous names you know. I was a little invisible, but, ever present in the recordings, which make me the proudest. He wasn't using me for anything except my voice and that's the biggest compliment.
Something personal after knowing him for years. He knew I was on the same flight as him once after not seeing him for years and he asked me up to first class, his body guard had to stand for 45 minutes while we talked. Upon seeing Prince, he gave me the warmest double handshake. I had the chance to ask him why he chose me when he could choose anyone. He said, after a bit of a thoughtful pause, he said, "Because you sing in tune, you have great time and you harmonize and blend well with other artists." That may be the highest compliments of my life because I consider him the most talented overall artist of all time.
In my 20's, I was hired by almost every music star from Purple Rain...Brown Mark, Dr. Fink, St. Paul Peterson, The Time (more on that later), but, mostly Prince himself. Prince told me I was going to take a big star off the map, but, I won't name which one. That never happened, obviously, but, it was a great compliment.
I was the voice at the beginning of Prince's "Party Man" video. I say "Party Man" right as the video begins. He brought some of us up to his private apartment above Paisley Park to watch that video before it was released to the public.
I would get to Paisley Park on time as far as what Prince asked of me, and others would come later. Prince would go into the recording room at Paisley and go from instrument to instrument and I was his only audience, nothing but a glass window between us. I sat on a couch in awe while he played for a couple hours waiting for Morris, Jerome and sometimes Michael Bland and others. Prince told me that my gummy bears were bad for my health...too much sugar. He was health oriented, he always wore heels and was dressed up beautifully, he smelled amazing, and the studio was always decorated in exotic scarves and lava lamps, and always clean. I sang on Elisa Fiorillo's CD also. I was the only background singer on Prince's rap artist, The T.C. Rapper, and the single I sang on was made into a video released worldwide and on television and they had another women lip syncing what I sang at Paisley Park. That song title is "Miss Thang". Funny, the woman lip syncing my vocals ended up being my choreographer on the Karyn White Tour, my first tour, and we even shared the stage together on The Tonight Show, Arsenio Hall, Paul Rodriguez and Soul Train Shows.
The Stevie Nicks Experience:
Stevie, what a unique person. She's this little, sweet rock legend, but, she talks to you like you're real.
One of the coolest things I got to sing on tour was when I sang the Sheryl Crow duet part live with Stevie Nicks for years in her concerts, and that song is "Fall From Grace". It's easy to find on You Tube if you go to the Soundstage" recording of the song. That's where I will be, among many bootleg fans from her audience.
Once, Stevie Nicks had an entire arena sing Happy Birthday to me in New Mexico with Stevie leading it. I actually have that recording but can't share it.
Stevie was very welcoming of me. She had me stay over night for a week at her mansion in L.A. She brought me around her house. Upon arrival the first minute, she said to drop my bags and go with her. She brought me up to a guest room overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the hill and sat all the way through sunset telling me secrets and other things. It was a beautiful beginning to staying at her house. She made me feel at home. She has a fish that you can pet. I loved watching her show me how with her long, beautiful nails. That fish, sure enough, liked to have you pet it. We watched TV in this big room, she showed me her beautiful lamps and her room and bathroom and it's everything you'd expect...dazzling, unique, beautiful.
Later in the week, Stevie brought in the original boots from "Rumors" for me to try on. It was so cute of her to offer that. I took a bunch of pictures in them in my guest room by myself. How could I not? Ha.
Stevie was really great at giving gifts. I have many I treasure. On a rare occasion, she would hand write beautiful things to me that I will really treasure in my heart forever.
Sometimes on the way up to the stage, she would have us girls walk with her, sometimes we'd dance to dance music in her room before the show, but my favorite memory is how she always wanted to hang out with my parents. One time we were at Caesar's Palace in her dressing room and she asked for my parents. I went and got them. Then she told me to get a camera because she wanted a picture with them. Then she took my dad's hands and started massaging them (he was about the same size as her dad that passed away) and when I came back with the camera, she was still massaging dad's hands. If you're good to my parents, you will always be in my heart. Those photos are priceless.
There was only one star that I ever asked her assistant if I could meet. I waited after the show in my show clothes hoping her assistant would come and get me before we got on the bus to get to the next city. Nobody came to our dressing room so I put on my jeans. Right then, her assistant said to go with her. And, tah-dah, there he was, Michael Buble'. I got to meet him. We had a lovely conversation and even exchanged email addresses. I love his voice and style. I still do.
Stevie also told me she wanted me to star as her in the Fleetwood Mac Story one day. She even told her former video producer in Celine Dion's room at Caesar's Palace who is now a famous movie director. She told other people at lunches during rehearsal. But, it hasn't happened and I doubt it will. It was nice to be thought of that way anyway. Stevie always introduced me in her concerts in way that made me feel great. She's been kind and graceful. She gave me kind introductions in concert, and she often introduced me as "Her Little Ball of Love".
Her talent speaks for itself as a legendary icon of rock music and songwriting, style and sparkle, and it was an absolute honor to work for her. She is the most legendary female rock singer of all time, in my opinion.
The Mick Fleetwood Experience:
Mick is a giant personality, even larger than his height. He's a sweetheart, a mindblowingly creative drummer, fun, funny, eclectic, love very intelligent people, loves his friends and family, and is great at conversation. When he's had a couple glasses of wine, he's so fascinating! He has this stream of consciousness, this sense of humor that's captivating. But, he's pretty captivating any time.
Mick would kiss my arm and bow like a gentleman before every single show to me and the other background singers.
Mick actually called my cell phone and asked me to come and watch his blues band at 3E, a place where people rehearse. He had a blues band and was wondering if I might be their singer. I met the band, watched them, but soon after meeting them, Mick moved to Hawaii and I live in Minnesota.
Mick, after sound check, saw my parents and walked right up and kissed my mom and talked for awhile. It was so sweet.
I'd say he's the most creative and unique drummer in style, dress, and personality of anyone.
He's a very sweet man, a giant in the music industry, and always interesting in every way, including his sense of unique style.
The Sheena Easton Experience:
My favorite memory was staying overnight at her house. We were in choreography rehearsal for her tour in L.A. and I lived 90 miles north in Santa Barbara. I had to be back for rehearsal the next day so she offered for me to stay over at her house. Something came over me to tell her I just finished a recording mix of me singing a song I co-wrote with Brian Mann (Kenny Loggins former keyboardist), called "Moon". I told her I had a CD of it and it would be perfect for her. She took it and when we got through her gates at her house, I heard my song and voice blasting out of her SUV. She was a childhood favorite so this was truly a dream come true. I used to look at her album covers, read the notes, looks at her wardrobe, makeup, and learn all her songs. I only sang Sheena Easton songs at my High School Coronations. I loved her! She walked in her house, me behind her, she dropped her purse on the counter and called her producer before she even got to another room. She ended up recording it and it was released in Asia and "Moon" was a favorite from that CD with popular and positive reviews, saying, it was one of the best songs on that CD.
Sheena even did the opening of the Hong Kong Airport with their most famous politicians as the audience inside the airport terminal. I also went to Australia for the first time with her. That was an over night. Yep, in and out in a couple days.
The sweetest note is that I met her kids, and her son insisted on praying for me every night so Sheena asked me for an 8x10 to frame for her little boy. That still melts me.
I brought in the year 2000 with Sheena in Las Vegas. She's feisty, sweet, lovely, funny, and fun, besides being an amazing singer. She owned much of the 80's pop hits.
The Don Henley Experience:
I was discovered by a tour manager when I was singing a live video taping at a Kenny G. Concert where Peabo Bryson did a duet with him on a song called "By the Time This Night Is Over". He took my information, I was quickly contacted, sent my audition and was hired instantly and few to Los Angeles for the Don Henley Tour. I had just lost my record deal with Sony Music so this was perfect timing and I've always been a Don Henley and Eagles fan. I was called by Don when I got to my hotel in L.A. and he said some nice things and welcomed me to the band. He was always a gentleman and kind of like a big brother or uncle who would protect me if my Christian faith was made fun of by band members, or things like that. We had a great run, on and off for 7 years. I sang on his "Inside Job" solo CD and even shared his microphone in his recording studio with him on a song called "Miss Ghost". Just like with Prince, Don was never controlling. He let me be me in the studio.
I had many U.S. tours with him, always flying, we played for President Clinton twice, played Walden Woods with Sting, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge and Aerosmith, and Don closed the show. My parents were already going there for a big anniversary so they sat 10th row center for all these stars. One of the most legendary memories was playing Woodstock with Don. He and I had a kind friendship. My favorite on stage experience was the beautiful harmonies with Mindy Stein and Marilyn Martin, but, with Don, he would go back and play drums on "Hotel California" and regularly peek under the drums at me and say "Give me a 'P' for perky" to give him extra energy. I could make him laugh and I know I still could today. I'm silly and he somehow enjoyed my goofiness. Don Henley is, to me, one of the most intelligent, most prolific songwriters of our time. I love his voice, I loved being friends with him, and it was an out of the blue experience and honor to be found and to get to stay for awhile.
Here is a peek into my career with legendary music stars. I will write more at some point. Thank you for taking time to read this page.