Tyka Nelson is giving her retirement/farewell performance Friday at the Dakota. Retirement? She hasn’t performed in the Twin Cities since 2008 at Bunkers. She hasn’t sung in public since 2018 in Australia.

Apparently, she’s retiring from the public role of being known as Prince’s sister.

Remember, she’s the only sibling who shared the same mother and father as Prince. (They had five other half-brothers and sisters.)

“I’m getting older,” said Nelson, 64, who will be performing on what would have been Prince’s 66th birthday. “I really wasn’t a singer. I’m a writer. I just happen to be able to sing. I enjoy singing.”

Enough to record four albums. But she insists she’s a writer. Her current project is a memoir.

“We are not there yet. We’ve got a few more chapters,” said Nelson, who doesn’t have a publisher. “It’s about me and my family.”

In an hourlong phone conversation last week, she spilled some tea about the Purple One, who died in 2016, and her own life. But she was often as elusive/evasive with her answers as he famously was.

On what to expect at the Dakota

“I’m going to honor Prince and my dad,” she said. “People don’t want to hear my junk.”

Her debut, “Royal Blue,” arrived in 1988. Her fourth and final album, “Hustler,” came out in 2011. She says she has a mixtape in the works.

She will sing a few songs at the Dakota but primarily act as emcee. St. Paul Peterson will lead the band, which includes such former Prince associates as guitarist Donna Grantis, singers Shelby J. and Marva King, and saxophonists Adrian Crutchfield and BK Jackson. (Nelson worked with Peterson in Australia.)

On the Prince estate

Nelson sold all but 2% of her shares to Primary Wave, a New York music management group headed by Larry Mestel that also bought the stake of Omarr Baker, Prince’s younger brother.

“We are a little teeny corner, but it’s a big role. It’s a cool role,” she said. “I can’t even think of what I sold. We — my son President and my son Sir — us three.”

Primary Wave controls 48% of the estate while Prince Legacy LLC, headed by Londell McMillan and Charles Spicer, acquired 50% from Prince’s siblings Sharon, Norrine and the late Johnny Nelson.

Speaking of the estate, Nelson can’t remember the last time she was at Paisley Park, but she hopes to go there soon because she wants a Prince umbrella.

On the Broadway-bound musical “Purple Rain”

“As far as I know, it’s like a ‘Mamma Mia!,'” she said, referring to the ABBA jukebox musical. “Somebody came up to me: ‘Who’s gonna play Prince?’ I just shut up because that’s not what it is. People won’t be disappointed.”

On the Netflix series on Prince

Director Ezra Edelman interviewed Nelson for an authorized Netflix project that has been in the works for more than four years. She said he asked about Prince being locked in the basement by his stepfather Hayward Baker.

“I smiled and I said, ‘That’s the craziest story,'” Nelson recalled. “Hay was the nicest guy. Never raised his voice. When he’d get mad at my mom, he’d go ‘Now, now Mattie.’ Mom was the one that gave us our punishments. I don’t remember that story [from Prince]. Do you? Prince shielded himself from letting you know who he really was. Prince didn’t want people to know who he was. Didn’t he say he ate bubblegum and all that craziness?”

On the “Purple Rain” premiere

“I cried through the whole thing, from start to finish,” she said of the 1984 gala in Hollywood attended by Eddie Murphy, Stevie Nicks, Lionel Richie and others. “So, I had to go to the one here [Minneapolis] to see the movie. I’m the crier in the family if you haven’t figured that out. I was blown away. I didn’t like the sex scenes.”

When she and Prince were kids, they watched Elvis Presley movies. “He said he wanted to do that,” she said. “I wanted to be Shirley Temple. We practiced signing our autographs. I was still 5, he was 7. I didn’t know what I was doing. He knew he was going to be famous.”

On grieving

“A very small part is grieving,” she acknowledged. “It took me a long time. Because he was the last link for me to people on this earth — it was my mom, my dad and my brother.”

While grieving, Nelson realized how beloved Prince was, especially when she went to London in 2017 to promote a mini-museum organized by Paisley Park.

“I didn’t know Prince was that big,” she admitted. “They lined up to tell me stories. Women would tell me, ‘I’m going to kill myself and then I put on this [Prince] song or heard it on the radio and I didn’t want to die.’ That’s so wonderful. So now you’re going to make me cry.”

On her last conversation with Prince

He phoned her Monday, four days before he was found dead at Paisley Park on April 21, 2016.

“He kept avoiding questions. I kept getting mad. I felt like ‘talk to me for two seconds.’ He’d change the subject, make a joke and then we’d both laugh. He asked me could I find more information about our family. Prince wanted me to find Sharon’s number. I didn’t question it. It was like ‘send this picture to that person.’ OK. What for?”

On the last time she saw Prince

It was Saturday night at Paisley Park, two nights after his private plane made an emergency landing in Moline, Ill., and he was hospitalized.

“There was a lady who wanted to hug him and the protector in me stood up — the lady was taller than me — the bodyguards came over and got her. Prince looked at me, ‘What you gonna do?’ So that made us smile.

“I said, ‘Do you hear how you kick that piano? You do it just like Daddy.’ He said, ‘Yeah, I do.’ He walked like Daddy. His sense of humor was Daddy. I think he’s built like Mom, in the middle he’s longer.”

Nelson was not aware that Prince had any illnesses, though when she hugged him, she felt he had lost a little weight.

“A couple of times I said, ‘How are you really?’ He didn’t go into anything with me. That was bothering me, and he knew it was but that was all he wanted to tell me. I don’t want to go into that. You’re going to spoil the book. Don’t you want me to make money?”

On who she is

“I’m one heck of a grateful person who had wonderful people in their life. I miss their wisdom. If I could I’d travel the whole world and meet people that loved him — I’m kind of the last link to him, for some people — it’s like giving back to him. As far as I’m concerned, he stayed because they loved his music. Now you made me cry twice. Don’t do it again.”

By Star Tribune


JUN 7 • 7PM