Gig Junkies Chat with The New Power Generation’s Kip Blackshire

Posted by Bianca on Thursday Jul 26, 2018 Under Interviews

Interview by Hayley Clark

This week we had the honour of speaking with the immensely talented Kip Blackshire before he flew out of Los Angeles ahead of the European summer leg of New Power Generation’s ‘Celebrate Prince’ Tour. After spending 1999 to 2002 with the NPG as vocals and keys, the artist who grew up as part of a fourth generation gospel family has performed with artists such as Eminem, Larry Graham and Nicki Minaj as well as building his own amazing solo career.

Kip returned to perform with NPG as part of the tribute show at Minneapolis’ Excel centre in October 2016 and has been a prominent guest vocal since bringing joy on last year’s European tour and this year leading vocals on the debuts of ‘Prince Live On The Big Screen’ and performing as part of ‘True Funk Soldiers’ during Celebration 2018 gaining rave reviews.

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Photo Credit: Peter Lodder

Hayley. Hi Kip, thank you for your time, are you excited about coming over for the gig at the Indigo next week in London?

Kip. Yes I’m excited to visit and return, my first tour was in London in 1999 when we visited Europe so I have great affinity with the city with the city, in 2005-2006 I performed with the solo project at the Jazz Cafe however it’s the first time in the O2, it’s probably one of my favourite cities I would live there if I could.

H. Jazz Cafe is a great venue.

Kip. Yes, its amazing. Maceo (Parker) was also in town and he came along and jammed with us, so it has great memories too.

H. As such a prominent and valued part of the Paisley Park family how did it feel to be part of the ‘Celebrate Prince’ shows?

Kip. I’m honoured, for me it’s bittersweet but it’s also a way of healing. I always say I don’t know if I qualify to be here, I was a pretty shy kid growing up. I hope to do justice with the shows.

H. You have a very musical family with your brothers Johnny and DeJuan, what was it like growing up?

Kip. Yes, there was always healthy competition while growing up. I was the youngest of the three so looked up to them and wanted to follow them. They always recognised we were brothers and the love is there by supporting each other. Even from Atlanta to moving to LA in 2010 they were there.

H. I remember seeing on social media they were at the Target Centre attending to see you perform?

Kip. That (Target Centre) was the first time they’d seen me perform for a while but was amazing they made the journey for me, it meant a lot. My brother came to the recent Wisconsin show also and got up on stage, the feeling of that, and being back up there with him, there will be more to come on that part so stay tuned…

H. With showing real raw emotion in your performances, do you find it hard when performing to stay in focus?

Kip. As a performer you should always be connected. I came from the ‘school of Prince’ that taught me it’s not done right unless you connect with both audience and song. It’s not the same work ethic as other places, when people enjoy the craft and communicate right then you reach a upper level and you need to stay to that.

The first time I came to the studio at Paisley with Prince I was given a forty song set and five days to learn keys, vocals and the choreography for it, I remember Morris commenting that I was thrown to the wolves. The music was brand new to me as growing up we weren’t allowed to listen to him but he taught me to work hard and get the job done, he moves so fast but I learnt so much and to stay focused.

H. Can we ask what is your favourite track to perform live or do you have a couple you have a connection with?

Kip. I have to say it’s a track that Mackenzie now sings live on tour ‘Nothing Compares 2U‘. It is a spiritual experience and with also covering both the Prince and Rosie Gaines part, it’s beautiful to sing it in your own shoes. I also used to play it in my solo shows and it holds special memories as sometimes Prince would show up at a show and play guitar to it so it means a lot emotionally too.

H. Which would you say is your most memorable gig in either periods of your time with the NPG?

Kip. I would have to say when we went to Europe and played Paris in around 1999. It was when you could smoke in the buildings and it was really smokey so he (Prince) asked for the building doors to be open and if people could stop smoking whilst we performed so we could play without the smoke. It was interesting to see how they responded and stopped, the way he connected with the people and they respected his request.

H. So with news of new recordings coming in time for the Indigo shows from the NPG, do you have a favourite song that you’ve recorded for it?

Kip. I haven’t actually recorded on it. I’ve been very busy trying to finish my latest project which will be revealed soon, and also ‘Live On The Big Screen’. When I agree to something I like to commit to who I’m working with. At the start of my professional career when I got the call from Morris to come and play keyboards for Prince, I always jumped when they called out of respect. I was taught to always express and to keep creating your own craft. Whilst it has been healing it is time to move into a different phase and do my own thing.

H. Thank you so much for your time, is there a memory that really sticks out in your time with the NPG that you could leave with us please?

Kip. ( laughs) Playing basketball together, both before and after rehearsals and studio time. I was 23 when I first joined the NPG and I kind of brought out the kid in him and other things that made us so close. He made it fun and you could be who you wanted to be, he taught and nurtured you. He taught me a lot about life, a life teacher and spiritual being and welfare. I always remember the wise words he told me about looking further into the future, to see yourself at the finish line and look back what you accomplished and achieved. Knowing how competitive the industry is and how easy it is to be distracted it’s important to express to the younger generation to maintain their focus in life.

Follow Kip on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Kip and the NPG perform at the legendary 02 Indigo in London on August 2nd 2018, limited tickets are still available from the venue for a night not to be missed.

One Response to “Gig Junkies Chat with The New Power Generation’s Kip Blackshire”

  1. Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » New Power Generation at The O2 Indigo, London, UK – 2nd August 2018 Says:

    […] by Los Angeles favourite Kip Blackshire the crowd went wild as the smooth and sultry sounds of ‘Sexy M.F’ started up, Damon lit […]

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