Playing the Fine Line in Minneapolis will be bittersweet Saturday for singer Ashley Támar Davis.
She’s scheduled to go on stage at 9 p.m. as the special guest of New Power Generation, a few days after the third anniversary of Prince’s death. She looks forward to performing “Redhead Stepchild,” the song she coproduced with Prince and doesn’t believe has been performed here since 2006.
“He came into my life when I was 13, 14. That’s when he was officially introduced. I received paraphernalia. I saw the ‘Purple Rain’ bike. I got a glimpse of everything Paisley. I went to a concert at Paisley, my second concert. I wasn’t star-struck. I guess it was a premonition of [him being] family, not knowing later on I would actually work with him,” she said.
“I didn’t officially work with him until 2005. I elaborate on all the stories in detail in my memoir. The book was written seven years ago. I was approached [by] a boutique publisher in Houston, and I just didn’t feel the time was right to put it out. But it’s completed, and when he passed, I had to edit it.
“I am one of those people who is very methodical. I pray about everything. If it doesn’t feel right, I don’t move on it, I don’t talk about it. But since doing ‘The Voice,’ people started putting two and two together about who I was from my childhood.”
She was one of the girls in the group that became Destiny’s Child. Between being on stage with Beyoncé in the beginning, becoming a Prince protégée and working on Broadway in “Motown the Musical,” Davis has a treasure trove of stories. One of her most cherished notices from “Motown” came after Prince happened to be in the audience the night she filled in for the actor who played Diana Ross. There’s a text message from Prince she’s saving for the book.
Q: Select a duet you’d have recorded with Prince.
A: We already did a duet [they also wrote] together: “Beautiful, Loved and Blessed.” It was Grammy-nominated. It gets no better than that.
Q: At 39, aren’t you kind of young for a memoir?
A: I was like, “Dang, so many questions, and it’s way too long a story to tell. I’ve got to just go put it out because it was getting overbearing.” And then people would ask me a question that would remind me of a story that I [hadn’t] put in the book. So, yeah, that book is officially coming either Christmas or my birthday, March 31.
Q: What’s the main subject of your book?
A: The plight of the independent artist. I’m just telling the story. I can give you the title, you’ll be the first to know. “A Syren on Damascus.” I don’t even want to go into that title, but I am just giving you a glimpse. It’s not a typical title, it has so much meaning.
Q: That’s the working title?
A: No. It’s not, at all.
Q: The title of your book suggests that you are a very religious person.
A: I am. I am. I was raised Southern Baptist, but over time — I think I talk about this in the book — I had to find out who God was on my own and not live off my parents’ faith. No one ever really tells you that you have those moments. But I did in college.
That’s when Destiny’s Child really started rising to fame. I was just a new kid on campus at [the University of Southern California] and I wasn’t telling people I used to be in [that] group. But my cousin, with her big mouth, went around campus. … By the time I got to my first class, everyone [was saying], “Omigod, you used to be in Destiny’s Child!”
From there I had, like, a serious nervous breakdown. I had never known what a breakdown was, never heard of anyone having one.
From there, I was like, “I just want to get into a place of worship to see God.” I stumbled across a church off Adams and LaBrea. It was as if the pastor was in my whole life.
So I rededicated my life to Christ. From there my life has never been the same. That’s what Damascus kind of comes from, Paul’s journey. All of these revelations along the way as I continue to go through my journey.
Q: What caused you to leave the group that became Destiny’s Child?
A: My parents just didn’t like the way the business was being handled, without giving too much information before the book comes out.
What’s funny is that it wasn’t until 2010 [that] my mom and I had a relationship breakthrough. I think I was harboring bitterness and didn’t know it. She finally broke silence as to why she took me out of the group, and I put that in the book. It was a healing moment.
A lot of mothers, to this very day, applaud my mom for taking those steps, and it is sometimes an emotional thing.
I look forward to being a parent. My hat goes off to parents who have to make decisions for their children when they know their children may not understand at that moment. My parents made the best decision for me looking back. People fail to understand that if you want to have longevity in this business you have to understand it is dog-eat-dog.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.”