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LoVeSeXy pays tribute to the music and artistry of Prince on March 9 at Batavia Downs

By Howard B. Owens
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lovesexy prince tribute
Giovanni Morant, lead singer of LoVeSeXy, a Tribute to Prince. Submitted photo.

Prince is a rare form of rock star, according to Chris Botelho, drummer and leader of the LoVeSeXy, which plays at Batavia Downs on March 9.

He was admired by peers and fans alike in his lifetime, and his legend has only grown since his untimely death at 57 in 2016.

LoVeSexy was formed in 2008 as a Tribute to Prince, who is ranked #27 on Rolling Stone's list of 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time, and Botelho has seen firsthand how Prince continues to attract new fans and old fans who hunger to hear his music performed live.

"He's pretty much a real rock star when there's not a lot of those types of people around any more," Botelho said. "He was someone who was real special, like just the type of person who would walk in the room and everyone would just stop and be quiet and kind of like be like, 'Can I talk and I say hello.’ Like they would be that afraid to even speak. You don't get that from other people, even other stars. And that was with everyone, not just regular people but movie stars and top musicians."

There are several quality Prince tribute acts, Botelho noted, a level of reference that is seemingly missing from the legacy of other dead megastars of the era, such as David Bowie and Michael Jackson.

"Michael Jackson, I would think, would have big tributes, and there are some tribute shows, but there's really not as much talk about him as much as you would think. It's weird. But Prince, if you go online and search 'Prince,' there are fan sites, Facebook pages, and media coverage like this. There are so many fans all over the world, so many people still, every day, posting and talking and sharing his music. It's kind of amazing."

Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson, the son of a father who was a jazz pianist and composer and a mother who was a jazz singer. He grew up in Minneapolis, Minn., and never did forsake his hometown, maintaining Minneapolis as his base and where he recorded most of his music until he died of an accidental fentanyl overdose.  

Signed by Warner Brothers when he was only 19, Prince released 40 studio albums during his life -- playing all of the instruments on some -- covering a range of musical genres, from funk, R&B, new wave, soul, jazz, blues, and hip hop. He sold more than 100 million records. His biggest hit singles included “When Doves Cry,” “Let's Go Crazy,” “Purple Rain,” “Raspberry Beret,” “Little Red Corvette,” and “Kiss,” among his 19 Top 10 hits.

For a time, Prince was known by a symbol, or The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, or just The Artist (because of a contract dispute with Warner Brothers), and it is said that he has enough unreleased material in his vault that his estate could continue releasing new albums of new material for the next 100 years.

That means there's a lot of material for a Prince tribute act to pick from, and for the 90-minute set at Batavia Downs, LoVeSeXy will concentrate on the hits, but if needed, LoVeSeXy can dig deep into the Prince catalog -- deep enough to cover two 90-minutes sets if needed, Botelho said.

"We've played shows that are, you know, entirely Purple Rain (the album) or 1999, but there's so much more to him in just that era that we feel like people already know what is there, so we like pushing out other stuff to them that maybe they've never heard before," Botelho said. "It's kind of bring the music of Prince for Prince. It's one little thing to kind of keep his memory and music alive."

And the music is the thing to LoVeSeXy, Botelho said. There are a lot of Prince tributes that concentrate on the showmanship and the craft of creating a Prince concert. For LoVeSexy, the goal is to bring the music alive. The entire six-piece band is comprised of top-tier musicians, Botelho said, and they all get their moment in the spotlight.

"It's a team sort of situation," Botelho said. "It's not about just the lead singer and a bunch of players behind. It's like the six of us together, creating and making the sound of the band. We have four lead singers in the band, so the vocals are extremely strong."

It's not that showmanship isn't there -- the primary lead singer does look like Prince, after all -- but Botelho said the band really wants to put on a show that lives up to Prince's musical legacy (if you haven't seen it, check Prince's lead guitar on this performance of While My Guitar Gently Weeps (at about 3:30 into the song.)

"His live shows, I think, was a big part of why a lot of people really feel that he was above the rest as far as a performer," Bothelo said.

The LoVeSeXy lineup is:

  • Giovanni Morant, Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keys & Trumpet
  • Anthony C. Grant, Sax, Keyboards, Flute, Vocals & Percussion
  • Jodee Frawlee,  Lead Guitar & Vocals
  • Brian Eggleston, Keyboards & Vocals
  • Jeffrey Gilman, Bass & Vocals
  • Chris Botelho, Drums & Samples

It's amazing, Botelho said, to see how much love the world had for Prince when he died and how that love and appreciation has just continued to grow.

"It is a testament to how strong it was around the world when he passed," Botelho said. "All the celebrations, the purple lights that were put on all the buildings around the world. It was kind of unbelievable, really, after all these years since 2016 that now the audiences are getting bigger and bigger for all of the Prince tributes."

LoVeSeXy performs at Batavia Downs on March 9. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.  Showtime is 7:30 p.m.  For more information and tickets, click here.

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