Lenny Kravitz performed “When Doves Cry” and “The Cross” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony on Friday in honor of Prince, who died last year at the age of 57. Kravitz was assisted by Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Choir, who imbued the songs with uncontainable fervor.
Kravitz opened with a slow-burn “When Doves Cry,” which he re-worked as pointy gospel-funk. His guitarist sprayed a series of gnarled, pointy riffs, and the organ player held long-sustained notes. Kravitz, wearing his usual Aviator sunglasses and black leather pants, kept time with a tambourine.
He strapped on his guitar for “The Cross,” a rumination on human suffering and the afterlife from 1987’s Sign o’ the Times. The song started with languid keyboards, but the calm didn’t last for long: soon Kravitz was playing full volume and the drummer beat out a merciless stomp. Still, both their efforts paled next to the power of the choir, which helped “The Cross” land with the full impact of gospel.
— Stephanie Frederic (@stepfredla) April 8, 2017
In the aftermath of Prince’s death in April of 2016, Kravitz spoke to spoke to Rolling Stone about the Purple One’s importance, first as an idol and later as a friend. “[Dirty Mind] was a pivotal moment for me,” Kravitz said. “Just seeing the album cover opened up my imagination. Here was an African-American cat, skin color like mine was, playing the guitar like I wanted to play… he had a very deep impact on me. I was able to see where I could go. The music, the vibe, the color, the hair, the band members, everything, was amazing to me.”
Prince’s transfixing talent inspired many artists in a similar manner, so it’s no surprise that there have been numerous tributes to him since his death. Erykah Badu, Bilal, Maxwell, Janelle Monae and more were part of a riveting and wide-ranging tribute at the BET Awards last June. More recently, The Time — former Prince collaborators — and Bruno Mars delivered a red-hot Prince tribute at the Grammy Awards.