Devoted fans like Luther Washington said Prince’s “Rally 4 Peace” concert Sunday was just what Baltimore needed to heal after massive protests shook the city in recent weeks.
The audience spanned a wide range of ages and backgrounds, much like Prince’s fanbase. Many were surprised to see Baltimore’s State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby invited on stage shortly after Prince began to perform around 9 p.m. A spokeswoman for Mosby — an avid Prince fan — said late Sunday the tickets were a Mother’s Day gift from her husband, Councilman Nick Mosby.
Earlier this month, some applauded Mosby as she announced charges for all six officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray. Prosecutors say he died after sustaining a spinal cord injury while in police custody. Mosby has faced criticism about rushing to her decision to charge the officers. Others have accused her of having a conflict of interest. She denies those claims.
Prince — whose performance was the first time he’s played in Baltimore in 14 years — surprised many when he announced the concert and released a song, titled “Baltimore,” an upbeat toe-tapping ode to ending police brutality.
He played the song shortly after taking the stage, and invited Mosby to join him, where she waved to the crowd but didn’t offer remarks.
The song opens with a cheery “Baltimore” before moving onto heavier lyrics: “Nobody got in nobody’s way, so I guess you could say it was a good day, at least a little better than the day in Baltimore. Does anybody hear us pray, for Michael Brown or Freddie Gray? Peace is more than the absence of a war.” Portions — such as, “If there aren’t no justice than there ain’t no peace” — recall the chants heard around the city during the weeks-long peaceful protests.
Prince had previously said he wanted the concert to be a “catalyst for pause and reflection following the outpouring of violence that has gripped Baltimore and areas throughout the U.S.”
He made brief remarks from the stage, telling the crowd: “The system is broken. It’s going to take the young people to fix it this time. We need new ideas, new life. … The next time I come to Baltimore I want to stay in a hotel owned by you.”
As promised, the concert featured special musical guests with rapper Doug E. Fresh and R&B singers Estelle and Miguel joining Prince on stage. Prince delivered many fan favorites with hits, including “When Doves Cry” and “Little Red Corvette.”
It’s unclear what portion of the tickets — which cost between $22 and $497 before fees — will be donated or to which charities the funds will go.
The first hour of the show was offered for free online on Tidal, the music streaming service backed by entertainment mogul Jay-Z. Tidal committed to match money donated through its website to the “Baltimore Justice Fund.” That fund, created by the Open Society Institute-Baltimore, says its mission is to improve police accountability and increase racial justice.
Read more: baltimoresun.com