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Twin Cities singer/songwriter Pamela McNeill’s ‘The Bigger Picture’ single celebrates the unifying force of Minnesota’s late, great Prince
Minneapolis, Minn. — Minnesota mourned when Prince died, and it felt like the world cried with us. His untimely death was devastating, but it also was a reminder of the way tragedy can inspire unity as fans gathered at First Avenue for an impromptu all-night tribute and even the Eiffel Tower went purple in his honor.
The reaction to Prince’s death — in Minneapolis, around the globe and in the sky above Chanhassen — inspired Twin Cities singer/songwriter Pamela McNeill’s new single “The Bigger Picture.” She wrote it the week after he died and debuts it Friday as a free download on pamelamcneill.com from April 20-27. It will be available on iTunes after that.
“I don't know how any of us could ignore the significance of the rainbow that appeared above Paisley Park the night of his death, or how the sky really appeared violet and rained when word spread that he had passed away,” McNeill says.
McNeill recorded the country-tinged “The Bigger Picture” in Nashville this fall with a lineup that included former Waterboys member Bart Walker on backup vocals, Chris Leuzinger from Garth Brooks’ band the G-Men (he’s played on every Brooks recording) on guitar and Wanda Vick on banjo and mandolin.
“It was an incredible experience to work with such talented musicians. They eagerly accepted the challenge of a song about Prince, and it was a magical session.”
McNeill heard about Prince’s death on the radio and drove to First Avenue, where people were starting to gather in the rain
“I'm so glad I had that moment to just feel the quiet, profound ache. We were all in shock. It still seems unreal. But what a tribute to Prince.”
The flowers and mementos in the memorials at Paisley Park and under his star at First Avenue, those incredible messages in the sky and the sorrowful but somehow celebratory camaraderie as thousands of fans sang “Purple Rain” in downtown Minneapolis inspired McNeill to write “The Bigger Picture.”
“‘The Bigger Picture’ is sort of spiritual, but in my heart of hearts I’d like to believe Prince would approve of the message.”
McNeill has been traveling to Nashville to record her sixth solo CD and performed at the Music City’s legendary Bluebird Café in September with Grammy Award-winning songwriter Bobby E. Boyd (“Bless the Broken Road”), who calls her one of the music industry’s best-kept secrets. Artists ranging from Yanni to Wynonna Judd to Buffy Lawson of Bomshel have recorded her songs, and she has a dedicated following for her performances with the wildly popular “Rumours and Dreams” Fleetwood Mac tribute, “Love is a Rose” Linda Ronstadt show and her powerhouse vocals on everything from classic rock to disco to soul with the Fabulous Armadillos. Fun fact: She got her big break working as a backup singer for Rick Astley of “Never Gonna Give You Up” Rickroll fame.