From Harts to Sheila E.: Prince’s musical prodigies


Throughout his incredible 40 year career, Prince shined as a solo artist and became an icon of the music industry. But he also helped nurture the talent of countless other musicians.

A charitable figure constantly on the search for new artists and musical talent, he was a seminal figure in the careers of the following stars.

Sheila E.

Famous for big hair and big bass, Shelia E. was a multi-instrumentalist and competent across percussion, guitars, keyboards, bass guitar, drums and she could belt out a tune. Prince first met her at a concert in the late seventies where she was performing with her father – also a musician – and he asked her to join his band. Working together on the Purple Rain recording sessions, she also provided back-up vocals for Prince before he helped her launch her own recording career with The Glamorous Life LP. She toured with Prince as his opening act and the pair dated for several years. Despite a split, Prince and Sheila E. continued to work and perform together at various times throughout both of their careers.


Aussie musician Harts was already a one-man-music-making machine and had garnered much critical acclaim with his debut EP Offline. But it was an unexpected phone call from Prince that changed his life, with the 25-year-old flying out to the US to jam with the Batdance singer who revealed that he was a “big fan” of his music. Twitter support from Prince following the release of his single Lovers In Bloom only helped build notoriety around the talented performer with Prince being quoted as saying “he reminds me of how I was at that age” following their jamming sessions at his Paisley Park Studios. 


Model, actress, dancer and singer-songwriter Vanity was a multiple threat performer who met Prince at the American Music Awards in 1980. Performing under her birth name Denise Matthews-Smith, Prince asked her to front a girl group he was creating called Vanity 6. He gave her the stage name Vanity and as part of the group she had a hit with Nasty Girl from their first and only album. She left the group not long after – and Prince’s management – to sign with Motown Records as a solo artists and she had some success throughout the eighties before transitioning into a career in film.

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