Singer shares how she responded to the challenge of creating something that’s not being done today in music.
Singer Bria Valente
Tavis: Bria Valente is a talented singer featured on one of the three new disks from music icon Prince. “Elixer” is the first CD that kicks off this unique new set, which you can get at Prince’s website, Lotusflow3r.com. From the new project, here’s some of the video for “Every Time.”
Tavis: So Bria leans over to me during the clip and says, “We’re just trying to make some stellar elevator music.” (Laughter.) It’s a whole lot better than that. Brian, look behind that curtain and make sure Prince is gone. Make sure he’s — is he gone? Good. All right. He’s gone now. So tell me the truth — how did y’all really meet? He says he met you first; you said you met — what really happened?
Bria Valente: Oh. Well, I was 17 and I’m from Minneapolis, Minnesota and I was working with Morris Hayes at the time and he had brought me over to Paisley Park. And I waited for Morris and he had met with Prince, and all of a sudden 10 minutes later he came down and just sat next to me, and didn’t look at me. He just said, “Hello,” and I said, “Hi.” (Laughter.)
He said, “What’s your name?” And I said, “I’m Bria.” And he said, “Nice to meet you.” And that was it, and then he was gone. (Laughter.) I didn’t talk to him since. So that was the first time we met.
Tavis: And then fast-forward a few years later and you’ve got a project together.
Valente: Yes, yes, I moved out to L.A. and in a chance meeting we ended up getting back together. So that was really cool. And Morris Hayes was again the —
Tavis: The conduit.
Valente: Yes, the conduit for the collaboration.
Tavis: That’s amazing. What’s it like to be put out there, to be exposed, to be introduced by Prince?
Valente: It’s a privilege and a blessing, and really the situation that we had and the working environment that I was in was like a family. And we all love music. I grew up with music, my father’s a musician, and coming from Minneapolis, too, I think there’s a really special connection there.
And when we all got together we just combined our talents and then we made this record that we are all really proud of, and I never, ever thought that I’d be working with Prince, to tell you the truth, so I moved away from Minneapolis and I ended up coming right back home, basically. (Laughter.)
Tavis: That’s a fascinating story.
Valente: So it’s really interesting, how that works.
Tavis: Tell me about your music, tell me about Bria’s music.
Valente: I wanted a record from front to back that you can just play through and it just talks about the best qualities of love, and that’s what this record really captures. So we did that, and there’s a lot of live instrumentation. A few songs are jam sessions that we turned into songs after the fact, and it just turned out beautiful. I’m so proud of it.
Tavis: Whenever Prince introduces us to somebody there’s always at least one song — maybe a couple, but always at least one song that we all latch onto because it has that quintessential Prince artist, Prince protégé sound.
Mikey, one of my camera guys, and I were talking earlier. We think the song that does that on your project is “Tonight.”
Valente: “Tonight,” yeah.
Tavis: Would you agree with us?
Tavis: Mikey, she agrees. (Laughter.) Tell me why we think that has that quintessential Prince protégé sound.
Valente: Well, Prince knows how to make people dance. He’s funky. (Laughter.)
Tavis: That’s a nice way to put it — he knows how to make us dance.
Valente: He does. He has that quality and I think that track is definitely something that brings that out. And some people have compared it to “Nasty Girl,” but yeah, I would say yeah, that’s how it all comes together.
Tavis: To your word choice of comparing it to “Nasty Girl –” that word, comparing, Prince, obviously here just a few minutes ago, made the point and said — and I’m quoting him, almost — he says, “Perhaps I spoke too soon when I compared Bria to Sade.”
And he explained what he meant by that. I don’t have to repeat that part; people just saw that a few minutes ago. But what do you make of the comparisons that others make between your music and whatever?
Valente: Well, actually, this record kind of has a sound of its own. It’s really hard to compare to anything else. Everybody’s going to take something from it based on their personal experience, so nothing really bothers me as far as comparisons are concerned.
But most people that hear it, my voice has a different tone than other people. I’ve been compared, as I’ve heard, to Chante Moore and some other artists like that, but it really does take on its own energy and it has its own feeling in it.
Tavis: Tell me about the challenge that Prince gave you to create your own sound, to create your own lane, to do something that’s not being done now. He mentions that that was the challenge that he gave you if he was going to work with you. Tell me how you go about responding to that kind of a challenge.
Valente: Well, that takes a lot of introspection. You’ve got to kind of sit with yourself and just think about what you want to hear that you’re not hearing, you know what I mean? And there’s certain things that really touch me in music and it’s when I hear heart and when I hear genuineness and caring and things like that.
That’s something that really gets me, and music is such a powerful thing — it can capture a moment in your life and bring you back to that spot, so it connects with you on an emotional level, on a spiritual level.
And so I really got in touch with myself in the effect of what is going to — what would I enjoy listening to? And so I tried to write about the things that I would like to hear about. I love the positive message of love and the organic pureness of real music and I just wanted to capture that.
I just wanted to capture something very real that people could listen to and it would touch them.
Tavis: When did you know that music was what — because you’ve modeled and that’s part of your back story as well. When did you know that music was what you wanted to do, not just something that you enjoyed?
Valente: I think it was in school when I started doing talent shows. That’s kind of when I knew that this was something I — this is what made me happy. And it really does make you happy. When you make something from nothing, that is the biggest rewarding feeling that you can have, and I really enjoyed that.
So doing the talent shows and writing music and learning things from my father, and he played 27 instruments.
Tavis: So he’s like Prince. (Laughter.)
Valente: No, I won’t say that.
Tavis: But does he also do lead vocals, background vocals, engineering, mixing?
Valente: Well, you know what? Exactly, that’s the key.
Tavis: If you’re going to launch a project, Bria knows how to put it out there. We should all be so fortunate to have Prince put us out there as part of a three-CD set. Her name, Bria Valente. Just learn it and get used to saying it, because you’re going to hear it for years to come.
Bria Valente is the name, the CD is called “Elixer,” part of Prince’s new three-CD set at Lotusflow3r.com. Bria, nice to have you on.
Valente: Oh, it’s a pleasure to be here.
Tavis: First time — I hope it’s not the last.
Valente: I hope not. (Laughs.)
Tavis: Nice to see you.
Valente: All right.