Maxwell memorably paid homage to Prince when he quoted Purple Rain’s opening lyric and covered “Sometimes It Snows in April” at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival two days after the Purple One’s April 21 death. Now the neo-soul singer has opened up about what the legendary performer meant to him in a new ESSENCE cover story.
“He was and is my everything,” Maxwell says. “I go through these moments of complete sadness.” He also shared a message that Prince had recently relayed to him through Harry Belafonte: “I spoke to Harry and he said, ‘Well me and Prince were talking about you,’ and Prince was like, ‘We need his voice. It’s just taking too long. We need him to keep this thing going.’”
Maxwell will return to New Orleans for a July 1 headlining performance at the ESSENCE Festival, set for June 30 through July 3. “I try to make the most invisible woman feel totally seen that night,” he says of the gig, which is part of his summer tour. “To be able to give that feeling to somebody is pretty sick.”
The headlining performance coincides with the release of Maxwell’s new album, blackSUMMERS’night, his first since 2009’s Grammy-winning BLACKsummers’night. “It’s so different,” he recently told EW. “It’s not just beats or something. We definitely have some sonic movements that will be quite surprising to people, more uptempo feel, because as the title says, the word summer is emphasized [in capital letters].” blackSUMMERS’night includes one of EW’s best songs of the year so far, “Lake by the Ocean.”