Walking home from school as a kid in Akron, Ohio, DaVaughn Weber used to imagine himself on stage dancing and singing as if he were Prince.
“I would try to walk and talk like Prince, even making certain facial expressions that he made,” he recalls. “I feel like Prince was a close relative that I never met.”
It seems that his “relative,” were he still alive, would be mighty proud to see what young DaVaughn grew up to become: an acclaimed Prince tribute artist known for his passionate homage to the groundbreaking musician.
Weber, who also refers to himself as “The Purple One” and bears a striking likeness to him, brings his Prince and the Revolution tribute show — “The Prince Project” — to the Lamp Theatre, Irwin, Sept. 8.
“I grew up in this world of Prince since I was 3 years old. My father took me to the theater at least three times to see ‘Purple Rain,’ and as I got older I started listening to a lot of his earlier material before ‘Purple Rain’ and all the way up to his last album,” Weber says.
“He is so profound. Even to this day certain songs give me goosebumps. His music to me doesn’t have a genre; it’s just simply great Prince music.”
A pioneer for certain
Weber says there is no question that he was a pioneer. “Absolutely. He was in a class of his own, his own world,” he says.
He sees Prince’s contributions in letting people know that it’s OK to be different in every aspect of being creative in any form of art.
“He demonstrated how to be very dedicated and discipline yourself to being the best at whatever it is you want to do,” he explains. In his tribute show, Weber says he does not try to act like Prince, “but simply become Prince on stage.”
Into the zone
“My mind goes in the purple zone, and once it’s there it’s no turning back until the show is over,” he adds. “Whenever I’m dressed as Prince, I feel like Prince overall.”
He admits it is quite challenging to keep up the energy as well as performing a tribute like this. He saw Prince live once back in 2000 on the “Hit and Run” tour.“
He had just changed his name back to Prince (from The Artist). I was very excited to be there to witness his greatness as a musician and performer,” he recalls. “Throughout the years, I looked at a lot of live Prince concerts on TV and just the energy in his performance blew me away.”
He is backed by a five-piece band in his tribute. His goal is to have the stage setting as close as he can to the Prince and the Revolution era which includes banners, lighting, and costumes.
He is convinced a new generation is indeed embracing the artist’s music. “Most certainly,” says Weber, “especially when the parents are Prince fans and they introduce the music to their kids.”
Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.