As evidenced in his music and video catalog, the multi-talented artist Prince not only loved women, but championed many female artists throughout his career. Often, their collaborations would take place behind the scenes as he would write or produce for both emerging and established artists. In many cases, this resulted in seismic, career-defining hit songs or exposure. Here’s a shortlist of women that Prince collaborated with throughout his incredible career.
Apollonia Kotero: Purple Rain’s Leading Lady
Prince fans will never forget Apollonia Kotero’s head-turning eponymous role as “the Kid’s” love interest in the iconic film, Purple Rain. The former L.A. Rams cheerleader replaced the original actress cast in the lead role, Denise Matthews (aka Vanity), after she dropped out at the last minute. Prince produced an album for Kotero’s group, the newly dubbed Apollonia 6, that in combination with the movie, helped to launch a worldwide tour.
She continued to have a successful acting/singing career and years later still remembers Prince fondly, posting in a heartbreaking letter on her Facebook page after his death, “I see you everywhere. I see you in everything.”
Sheila E. And The Glamorous Life
Already a respected and in-demand percussionist in the late ’70s, Sheila Escovedo, better known by her stage name Sheila E., was ready to embark on a solo career when fate placed her at the same concert with the artist soon to be known as just “Prince.” He was immediately smitten and vowed that he would be her husband one day.
They never tied the knot, but Prince did give E her first number one dance hit, “The Glamorous Life.” As her solo star status continued to rise, her collaboration with Prince also continued as she took on the role of music director for his band throughout the ‘80s.
Tamron Hall: Prince Was Her Secret Stylist
Tamron Hall is a familiar name to fans of NBC’s Today show and various other news and talk programs. Rumors that she and Prince were romantically linked have never been confirmed by either party, but publicly their status was “close friends.” News of their friendship went public when Prince surprised Hall by using a selfie of the Emmy-winning journalist as cover art for his single, “If I Could Get Ur Attention.”
Hall later explained to co-host Willie Geist on the morning program, “Prince and my mother are the only two people who I talk to about what I’m going to wear. I send him a picture in the morning.”
Stevie Nicks Loved “Little Red Corvette”
Stevie Nicks was working on her second solo album, The Wild Heart, in 1982 when she heard Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” on her car radio. She was immediately taken by the sound, and her own words and melody began to form on top of the music. Later at the recording studio, she decided to call Prince and thank him for the inspiration. He appeared at the studio that night, where he came up with an unforgettable synthesizer sound and recorded the tracks on the spot.
Then he was gone. This song would become one of her most popular songs, “Stand Back.” He didn’t receive credit on the album for his contribution, but they did split the royalties for the top 10 hit 50/50.
Kristin Scott Thomas Had Her First Role In A Prince Film
It should come as no surprise that Dame Kristin Scott Thomas might give credit to a prince for the first big break in her acting career, but in reality, this honor goes to none other than Prince Rogers Nelson. Back in the early days of her career, the future Four Weddings and a Funeral star was given her first big-screen role in Under the Cherry Moon, the 1986 directorial debut for Prince, who also starred in the picture.
Thomas has reservations about her debut performance, but has nothing but affection for her co-star: “He had a certain pride in having been the first person to give me a job, and that makes me proud.”
Madonna: “This Is Not A Love Song”
The pop music scene in the early ’80s was dominated by big personalities, so it’s no surprise that two of the biggest video stars from the MTV generation would have worked together. After meeting at the 1985 American Music Awards, the Top 40 titans had a brief romantic relationship which yielded the duet, “Love Song,” that later appeared on Madonna’s Like a Prayer album.
It’s surprising, based on their combined star-power, that a video was never made to promote the song. Due to unknown circumstances, the former lovers descended into a decades-long public feud. Eventually, the two made up and upon hearing of his death Madonna posted: “A True Visionary. What a loss. I’m Devastated. This is Not A Love Song.”
Carmen Electra: Didn’t Look Like A ‘Tara’
Tara Leigh Patrick is not a household name, but most people will recognize the unforgettable Carmen Electra, a name that was given to her by Prince because, as she recalls, “you look like a Carmen.” Initially, Electra auditioned for an all-girl group that Prince was creating, but he saw her as a solo artist, and more.
The couple dated for a while and he produced her poorly received self-titled album, but it did jumpstart her career in entertainment. After his death, Electra told People magazine, “I’ll always be grateful that he believed in me and took a chance on me.”
Cat Glover: Dancing With The Star
Cat Glover may not be a household name, but if you ever enjoyed Prince’s 1987 concert film, Sign o’ the Times, you know her skill as a choreographer. Also a talented singer and rapper, she appeared in many Prince videos during the ’80s and was known for popularizing her famous “Cat Scat” dance after one of the most successful runs on Ed McMahon’s Star Search talent competitions.
She eventually parlayed her success into a solo career with the release of her “Catwoman” EP in 1989. In a recent (2020) interview with Classic Pop magazine, she revealed that “Prince loved junk food – especially lollipops and Doritos.”
Andy Allo: New Power Generation Guitarist
Andy Allo met Prince through mutual friends who thought the two would work well together. Not only was Prince impressed with her guitar and vocal skills, he asked her to join his backing band, The New Power Generation, in 2009. While on tour, the two co-wrote three songs that later appeared on Allo’s second album Superconductor and he produced her albums until his untimely death in 2016.
Allo prefers not to comment on the speculation about non-professional aspects of their relationship, but had this to say in an interview with Uproxx: “I learned so much and he gave me so many tools of how to live and create as an artist.”
Patrice Rushen: Prince’s Inspiration
Patrice Rushen was a successful pianist, singer, and composer whose work might be most widely known via the sample used in the chorus of Will Smith’s “Men in Black” theme song. Her work in the ’70s was a huge influence on Prince musically, but by many accounts, he was also completely in love with the artist. So much so that he wrote the classic hits “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “I Feel for You” for her and about her.
She rejected both his love and the songs, as Rushen was four years his senior and she thought he was too young (he was twenty at the time).
Misty Copeland: Creative Awakening
Misty Copeland is known internationally as a dance prodigy as well as a groundbreaker for equality in the world of ballet. She cites Prince as being the first person to challenge her creatively to express her true artistic personality, something that, as she told Entertainment Weekly, “classical ballet doesn’t really celebrate.” Their first collaboration was on the 2009 video for Prince’s “Crimson and Clover.” After that, she appeared on tour with him at several shows and on television.
Today she has her own Barbie doll and is a principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre. Of the late musician she said, “he celebrates the woman in a very powerful and positive way.”
Sheena Easton: She Had The Look
Scottish singer Sheena Easton was already a big deal in the music world before she met Prince, but their collaboration created one of the most memorable musical moments of the 1980s when she performed the duet, “U Got the Look,” from Sign o’ the Times. He also wrote her most controversial song, “Sugar Walls,” which had the honor of appearing on Tipper Gore’s “Filthy Fifteen,” a list of songs for parents to hide from their children.
As is often the case with Prince, the lines between work and romance were often blurred, but according to Easton, rumors of a relationship were just that: “We were great mates, but sorry, never lovers.”
Lisa Coleman: Revolution And The Time
Keyboard player Lisa Coleman was already part of rock royalty as the daughter of Gary Coleman of the famous Wrecking Crew, the session musicians who played on thousands of hit recordings in the 1960s and ‘70s.
After a successful 1980 audition for Prince’s backing band that eventually became The Revolution, she cemented her place in music history performing and recording for some of his biggest albums including Purple Rain and 1999 as well as many of his side projects including work with The Time and Vanity 6. Coleman is also responsible for bringing her long-term musical and romantic partner, Lisa Melvoin, into the band.
Wendy Melvoin: “Yes, Lisa, The Water Is Warm”
Wendy Melvoin was half of the “Wendy and Lisa” duo famous for their roles in the Purple Rain movie and album (“is the water warm enough?”) and as members of Prince’s band The Revolution. A skilled guitarist and multi-instrumentalist, she worked closely with Prince to develop the signature sound of his music for much of the ’80s.
She is featured in the video for the song “Kiss,” seated and playing guitar as Prince dances around her chair trying to make her laugh. Wendy and Lisa eventually struck out on their own and have had a long and successful career in film and music.
Lianne La Havas: Prince Played In My Living Room
Lianne La Havas’ star was already on the rise when the Purple One asked to meet the young British singer/songwriter. After seeing her perform on an internet livestream, Prince began speaking with her on the phone and the two became good friends. Soon she was recording at Paisley Park and performing with him during his legendary eight-minute Saturday Night Live medley in 2014.
As an incredible cross-promotional event, Prince performed a live concert in her East-London flat, complete with lights and smoke machines. Since losing her mentor, La Havas’ career has continued to thrive with consistent touring, successful album releases, and critical acclaim.
Chaka Khan: I Feel For You
As a solo artist and with her band Rufus, Chaka Khan was an early influence on young Prince. He claims to have had her posters in his bedroom and was a true fan. They were both signed to Warner Bros., but she had not yet taken notice of the new kid on the scene. One night she received a call from her old friend Sly Stone, asking her to meet him at Electric Lady Studios.
Upon arriving, no one was there except “one little guy in this room with a guitar.” Prince had mimicked Stone’s voice hoping to get a chance to meet with his idol. The two became friends and he eventually paid her back for the prank by producing her cover of his song, “I Feel for You,” which was a huge hit for Khan.
Susanna Hoffs: Manic Monday
There was already a buzz in the music world about the Bangles, an all-female band who wrote Beatles-style melodies and harmonies, but their version of Prince’s “Manic Monday” gave them their first major hit. Prince was a fan of their first album and also of their guitarist and lead singer, Susanna Hoffs, and offered the song in an act of flirtatious business foresight.
Not wanting to steal attention from the band’s spotlight, Prince asked to be credited simply as “Christopher” in the album’s liner notes. Ironically, “Manic Monday” held the number 2 spot on the US charts until it was replaced by Prince’s “Kiss.”
Ingrid Chavez: “I love It When You Smile”
Ingrid Chavez, a talented artist and poet, got Prince’s attention after passing him a note at a Minneapolis pub one night that read: “Hi. Remember me? Probably not. That’s okay. Smile. I love it when you smile.” He whisked her away to his Paisley Park recording compound and immediately halted production of his nearly finished Black Album, explaining to his producer, “I’ve met an angel.”
He recorded her reciting her poetry and it became the nucleus for one of his most artistically bold yet financially unsuccessful albums, Lovesexy. Prince released an entire album of her poetry and she went on to work with notable artists such as Madonna and Lenny Kravitz.
Kim Basinger: Vicki Vale Meets Partyman
Sparks flew when Prince met actress Kim Basinger on the set of the 1989 blockbuster, Batman. Basinger had the role of Vicki Vale, Gotham City’s top reporter, and Prince soaked up the scene, creating an entire album of bat-inspired pop music. The album resulted in several hits for Prince, including “Partyman,” “Batdance,” and “Scandalous.” An extended remix of the latter is said to feature audio of the couple heating things up in the studio.
The duo also recorded the unreleased Hollywood Affair, an album featuring her skills as a rapper. When asked about her time with Prince, she said, “I don’t put a lot of restrictions on myself, let’s just put it that way.”
Mavis Staples: Handwritten Inspiration
Mavis Staples is an American gospel and civil rights icon, first rising to prominence as a teenager in the ’50s with her family’s singing group, The Staple Singers. Prince’s admiration for Staples ran deep and is no more evident than by the fact that he performed “When Will We Be Paid,” a Staples cover, at his final concert.
Initially, Staples found Prince shy and withdrawn but was determined to figure out a way to collaborate. They began writing letters to one another, where Staples would tell stories about her life. These letters would inspire Prince to create the music and lyrics for what Staples has said is possibly her best album, The Voice.
Martika: Cooked Things Up In The Kitchen With Prince
Marta Marrero, better known to the world by her stage name, Martika, scored a top 10 hit with her song “Toy Soldiers,” in 1989. As part of the creative process for her second album, Martika’s Kitchen, she gave Prince several of her personal journals and as a result, he wrote her the top ten single, “Love… Thy Will Be Done,” based on one of her poems.
The song became a regular part of Prince’s setlist during the last decade of his life. Martika told News Corp Australia Network, “to be able to perform songs he wrote, and to be a part of that legacy, I’ve always viewed it as an incredible honour.”