Prince opens studio up for a party

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Prince opens studio up for a party

CHANHASSEN, Minnesota - Prince seems to be shedding his reclusive reputation and becoming a party animal.

In recent weeks the superstar has hosted late-night jam sessions where he serenaded Madonna, celebrated the Minnesota Lynx’s WNBA championship and showcased his latest protege, singer Judith Hill. Hundreds of fans descended on suburban Paisley Park Studios on Saturday night, paying $10 each to hear Prince and his backing band raise the roof until 3 a.m.

“Y’all want to party with me?’’ Prince asks the crowd at one point.

So why the new openness? Prince, of course, isn’t talking.

“Why is he so friendly? Why is he open now? He’s inviting strangers into his house. Why? Why? What’s the reason? Let’s ask everyone else besides him,’’ Prince - wearing a purple tunic and large gold chain - teased from the darkened stage as he blasted through a funky mix that included oldies by Bill Withers and Sly and the Family Stone and his own songs (‘’Alphabet St.,’’ “Hot Thing’’).

Since Prince wasn’t giving interviews that night (he rarely does), here’s what fans had to say:

“I think he’s been open for a while,’’ said Gina Meier, 48, of Richfield, seeing her seventh Prince performance at Paisley Park. “He’s done Paisley Park stuff for years. It’s like he’s brought us into his home.’’

Fans browsed through Prince T-shirts at the merchandise booth in the lobby, adorned by a large heart-shaped mirror and another mirror with the word “Love.’’ An ATM machine was nearby. For $40, fans could take a “mini-tour’’ of Paisley Park, where Prince’s gold records are on the walls and the purple motorcycle he rode in his 1984 breakout movie, “Purple Rain,’’ is on display. In between music sets, a DJ spun Prince music as well as R&B hits.

Announced on Twitter, the event was to promote Hill and her new album, “Back in Time,’’ co-produced by Prince and released just the day before. Wearing a white fringed top, blue jeans and boots, Hill, a former contestant on NBC’s “The Voice’’ and a backup singer to Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, played keyboards and soulfully sang her songs such as “Cry, Cry, Cry’’ and “My People’’ to warm applause.

Hill, a 31-year-old California native, had told an interviewer that working with Prince would be her “dream collaboration.’’ Shortly afterward, she got the call from Prince.

“It’s been incredible,’’ Hill told The Associated Press in the Paisley Park studio where her album was recorded - old-school analog - on 2-inch tape.

Jam sessions at Paisley Park led to the album, Hill said, citing the studio’s “very free-spirited environment.’’ She said Prince “wants to share with the world what goes on here.’’

Back on stage, Prince thanks the crowd several times for coming. Eventually, nearly five hours after it started, the party ends and fans drift away into the cool autumn air.

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