Q: I’ve always wondered where Prince came up with the symbol that he used to represent himself in the 1990s.
A: As is quite well-known by now, in the early '90s, Prince wanted to be released from his contract with Warner Bros. When the label refused, Prince changed his name to the unpronounceable symbol that first adorned his 12th record. The British newspaper The Independent has reported that the idea for the symbol, which appears to be a melding of the symbols representing both male and female, came to Prince during a meditation session. He obtained four different federal trademark registrations for the symbol which was formally named “Love Symbol #2”.
Q: I’m not a huge fan of horse racing, but it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the Kentucky Derby. The hats, the horses and that stirring bugle call! What is the name of that tune?
A: It should come as no surprise that the bugle call used in horse races like the Kentucky Derby has its origins in the military. During the deafening roar of battle, or even during the quiet of the evening, the bugle was an efficient means for commanders to send signals to their troops. The bugle entered our military during the Revolutionary War by way of both the French and British armies. Initially, each branch of the army used its own set of sound signals. As you might imagine, this caused some confusion on the battlefield, particularly during the Civil War. In 1867, however, the Army settled on a standardized set of calls. The particular call you mention is known as “First Call” and is used as a courtesy call, typically sounding 5 to 10 minutes before morning reveille or before the lowering of the flag in the evening. It traditionally is blown in 3/8 time. In racing, the tune is known as “Call to the Post” and is usually blown in 3/4 time. It is used to signal the riders that it is time to leave the paddock and parade to the starting post.
Q: I am curious to know who the members of Stay Human are on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."
A: Of course the leader of the band is the 29-year-old multi-instrumentalist, Jon Batiste. As we know, he hails from New Orleans. In 2005, he and fellow Juilliard classmates, Joe Saylor (drums) and Phil Kuehn (bass) began playing around New York City as a trio. Eventually, they added Eddie Barbash (alto sax), Ibanda Ruhumbika (tuba), Michael Thurber (bass) and, from time to time, Grace Kelly (sax/woodwinds). On May 15, Kelly will turn 24. Already in her short life she has released 10 albums (her latest is entitled “Trying to Figure It Out”) and has played with many jazz legends many years her senior, including Wynton Marsalis and Dave Brubeck. At 14, Kelly was invited to play with the Boston Pops, writing her first full orchestral arrangement to boot! When she isn’t jamming with Jon Batiste and Stay Human, or headlining in one of more than 700 shows around the world, or releasing albums, Kelly teaches residency workshops at the Berklee College of Music (where she graduated in 2011). We think the word “amazing” is not superlative enough to describe this young musician. And she has the most infectious smile!