Prince recorded the album Welcome 2 America in 2010 at his Paisley Park studio in Minnesota, inspired by 70s jazz, soul and funk. The album is described as “a powerful creative statement that documents Prince’s concerns, hopes, and visions for a shifting society, presciently foreshadowing an era of political division, disinformation, and a renewed fight for racial justice.” Prior to the album’s release, its title track began streaming in April.
Co-produced by New Power Generation keyboardist Morris Hayes, the album features contributions from band singers Shelby J, Live Warfield, and Elisa Fiorillo. As for why the album was never released, Hayes said, “That was a surprise to me,” Hayes says. He assumes that his preference to travel with those who participated in the recording took precedent and if all the musicians couldn’t join him on the road, he just chose to keep the project to himself.
“I only surmised that if he couldn’t put this album out with the crew he created it with, then I think it was a big mitigating factor in why it hit the shelf,” Hayes says. “Prince had this thing where he would shoot first and ask questions later. And if he didn’t have commitment from all those people that we could go out and make a big splash – with a new band, a new Prince – then the balloon would just go down. If all those things weren’t aligned, that would cause that (music) to go in the vault.”
Prince was simultaneously working on the album ’20Ten’ that he liked more at the time and chose to put out instead, backup singer Elisa Fiorillo said. He did, however play Welcome 2 America on tour. “I know he was excited. He was testing the waters to see how it would be accepted or not. Maybe he just thought it wasn’t the right time.”
“(Fans) are gonna hear a more political side of Prince,” Fiorillo says. “He was very concerned with how people were treated and making the world a better place. There’s some light stuff (on the album), but I think they’ll appreciate the sincerity and realness of what he had to say.”
Listen to Prince’s previously unreleased Welcome 2 America album below: