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Prince’s Sister Cuts Some Vinyl

November 8, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ Tyka Nelson’s songs come from a very private world.

″I kind of locked my mind away in a bubble. There’s a place where nobody can touch me,″ said Nelson, 28, whose debut album is called ″Royal Blue.″

″The drunks on the street, the killings, the kids with no homes - there’s a place I can go. The songs come out of that,″ she said.

Her first single is called ″Marc Anthony’s Song.″

″Marc Anthony lives in that world, Paris lives there. I imagine that it’s true that they are there.″

Nelson’s romantic streak dates back to her childhood in northern Minneapolis, when she would watch Shirley Temple and Barbra Streisand movies. Music runs in the family. Her father, John Nelson, was a pianist and composer while Mattie Nelson, her mother, was a singer.

Then, of course, there was her older brother: Prince.

″Mom was singing and daddy playing,″ she recalled. ″My mother would play her music. I got to listen to lots of different things, Dionne Warwick and Nancy Wilson. Daddy would listen to Top 40 songs on the radio. He would have to learn those songs.″

Nelson recalled seeing her brother’s first feature movie, ″Purple Rain.″

″I cried through the whole movie,″ she said. ″It was him on film, like Elvis Presley. It was one of the first times it hit home that he was really doing something. I just saw his face and tears started running down my face.″

Nelson has settled down a bit since ″Purple Rain.″ When ″Sign O’ the Times,″ Prince’s latest film, was released, she didn’t even see it.

″I don’t want to be influenced. He sent me the tape and I decided I was going to wait,″ she said.

Nelson also declined to make use of ″Paisley Park,″ Prince’s $10 million recording studio outside of Minneapolis. In fact, she wouldn’t even let Prince help at all.

″Prince didn’t hear the album until it was finished. They look and have an idea, then you start doubting yourself.″

Given her obvious connections, some resentment might have been expected among the studio personnel. But Nelson said she had no problems.

″Everybody’s been very receptive,″ she said. ″I did it away from him and that was intentional. I’ve got a lot of pride. I wanted to know I could do it on my own.″

Her greatest obstacle was singing with other people in the studio. ″As soon as people walk in, my heart flutters a little bit. I turn out all the lights so that’s fine. I have to remind myself they can’t see me. The hardest thing is a bunch of eyes peering at you.″

Five of the nine tracks on ″Royal Blue″ were produced in Minneapolis by David Rivkin, a.k.a. David Z., who has worked with Jody Watley and Sheila E.

The remaining songs, recorded in Los Angeles, were produced by Preston Glass, who has worked with Aretha Franklin and Earth, Wind & Fire, and Larry Graham, the bassist for Sly and the Family Stone.

The songs on ″Royal Blue,″ co-written by Nelson and Jimmy Matherly, are a mixture of pop, soul and Princely funk. Nelson calls it ″A Different Kind of Blues.″

″I wanted it to be soothing,″ she said. ″I wanted someone to be able to put it on and write a letter and talk on the phone and it wouldn’t interfere.″

Nelson wrote her first song when she was 9 years old and found it natural to enter the music business.

″I thought everywhere around the world, kids when they got into their teens got into bands.″

But she doesn’t feel like a celebrity. ″I haven’t accepted a lot of things,″ she said. ″It’s hard to accept that I can go into a store and get my album.″

And there’s still the matter of performing live. Nelson will have many eyes on her when she begins her tour this fall. Her experience on stage is limited.

″I sang at the Hollywood Palace the day after the ‘Purple Rain’ premiere,″ she said. ″It’s fine while you’re singing but afterwards everyone’s touching you, saying, ‘Oh, you’ve got such a beautiful voice.’

″That’s the only time I’ve sung in my adult life in front of people.″

But in her own private way, Nelson is a show business veteran.

″I’ve been doing this for years in my room with my bed as my audience,″ she said. ″I talk to the people. I dance. I don’t stand still. I look at them but I look through them.

″I can’t wait to tour.″

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