The musician shared the track a day before he was due to play at the Rally4Peace concert, which will also be streamed live on Jay Z’s Tidal
Prince on Saturday released "Baltimore," the song he recorded in response to unrest in the city over the police custody death of Freddie Gray.
The star shared the track, which was recorded at his Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota, through Twitter a day before he was due to play at Sunday’s Rally4Peace concert in Baltimore which he announced this week.
Gray died on 19 April, a week after he “made eye contact” with a Baltimore police officer and ran away, before being arrested and transported in a van while handcuffed and shackled but not secured with a seatbelt. The 25-year-old suffered a badly broken neck.
Rioting broke out in the city after his funeral, leading to the imposition of a curfew, many arrests and the deployment of national guard units. Baltimore’s mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, lifted the curfew last Sunday.
A statement on Prince’s Soundcloud page on Saturday said he played all the instruments on the released version of the song, which features vocals from the singer and Eryn Allen Kane. The statement said Kane, “a powerhouse vocal arranger and producer in her own right”, “graciously flew in on a moment’s notice and graced the track with her angelic presence”.
Referencing the 18-year-old who was shot by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri last August, leading to similar unrest, the song’s lyrics include the lines: “Does anybody hear us pray?/ For Michael Brown or Freddie Gray/ Peace is more than the absence of war.”
Prince also sings: “Are we gonna see another bloody day?/We’re tired of cryin’ and people dyin’/ Let’s take all the guns away.”
The Rally4Peace concert is scheduled to take place at Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena. It will be streamed live on Tidal, the service owned by Jay Z.
Prince’s 60-minute performance with his band, 3rd Eye Girl, will be offered “pre-paywall”, allowing viewers to see it without subscribing to Tidal.
Prince said “several industry superstars” would attend the event, a portion of the proceeds from which will go to Baltimore youth charities.
The statement on Prince’s Soundcloud page also said: “Please know that all involved in this project never take for granted the privileges we have in this country. Let’s all continue to fight the good fight and confront inhumanity on every level until the day it is no longer.”
Listen to Prince's new song, as posted on his Soundcloud page, below.