Uptown Theater Is Hosting a Prince Memorial Today
UPDATE: The Prince tribute will be postponed to Friday, May 6th due to inclement weather. It will be at the same time and place.
Original: Since Prince died last week, numerous Philadelphia music venues have paid tribute to the musical legend.
On Friday, the Uptown Entertainment and Development Corporation is hosting a memorial of its own for Prince. It will take place under the marquee of the historic Uptown Theater on Broad Street. Guests are invited to bring purple candles to light at 6 p.m.; the event officially begins a little earlier, at 5:30 p.m.
“We felt it was important to have a tribute that was solely a Philadelphia event,” says Linda Richardson, president of the UEDC.
In 2009, the organization hosted a similar tribute to honor Michael Jackson after he died. The vigil brought together about 100 people to celebrate the life of Jackson, who had preformed several times at the Uptown Theater.
Though Richardson says Prince never preformed at the theater, his movie Purple Rain was shown there during the 1980s, when the theater reopened as a church.
The now-vacant theater was part of the “Chitlin’ Circuit,” a group of venues where African-American artists performed in the 1960s and earlier. It has hosted musical giants such as the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding and the Jackson 5. Radio host Georgie Woods produced his last show there in 72. After briefly reopening in 1980s, it closed again in 1991 due to an ice storm.
The theater is now owned by the UEDC. The organization has worked to restore the beloved theater, but the process has been delayed due to lack of funding, Richardson says. However, she says the group was able to secure funds from the city and is expecting to finish construction on a key section of the building known as the “Entertainment and Educational Tower” this December.
That area will be used for cultural programs and performances, and will offer lease space for studios. Richardson says the group needs another $5 million to finish construction on the theater.
Richardson says if there is bad weather, the Prince memorial will be moved to across the street, to 2231 N. Broad St.
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