Author Laura Tiebert Changes Her Name to an Unpronounceable Symbol

The family of The Author Formerly Known as Laura says they have no idea what prompted the adoption of this mysterious symbol, nor any clue how to pronounce it. Her teenage son says he’s retreating to his bedroom until the month of April passes, adding, “This is so awkward.”

Chanhassen, MN (April 1, 2019) — She may still be an author and suburban mom, but her name is no longer Laura Tiebert.

The co-author of the 2017 biography, The Rise of Prince: 1958-1988 and of the forthcoming book, Crazy Amazing: The Year of Living Like a Prince, announced she is changing her name to an unpronounceable symbol for the month of April, her fourth month of Living Like a Prince.

From now on, the former Laura Tiebert wants to be referred to as the combination of a heart and the rays of the sun.

It’s unknown whether this is a legal name change or an artistic whim. Only one person knows for sure, and she’s not giving away much detail.

“We don’t know what we’re going to call her,” says her husband Andrew. “We’re working on it. We’re hoping to get official word soon as to what sound we’re supposed to utter.” He shakes his head and adds, “We’re as surprised about this as anyone.”

While this might seem like a publicity stunt, the lack of a spoken word for the symbol doesn’t seem to be bothersome to the former Tiebert.

“I want to move to a new plateau in life, and one of the ways to do that is to divorce myself from the past,” she says, adding, “I’ll get by. I don’t need a name as such, really.”

The Author Formerly Known As Laura went on to state that despite rumors to the contrary, the name change has nothing to do with fighting a book publishing contract, since she has yet to sign with a publisher.

“As soon as I get a publisher, I’m prepared to fight them,” she hurries to add.

Only one thing is certain: For the family, friends and work associates surrounding The Author Formerly Known As Laura, April might be the cruelest month.

Decamping to Warmer Climes

The blog will be on pause for a week as our family makes like Prince by escaping the tail end of a very long Minnesota winter by decamping to warmer climes. When I return on Monday, April 1, I will say a fond good-bye to my month of color and unveil April’s theme!

Have You Seen Rami Malek Perform Prince as a Phone Sex Operator?

Has anyone seen this video short of Rami Malek (who most recently played Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody) reading the lyrics to “Kiss” as a phone sex operator? The delivery couldn’t be more perfect.

Watching him spurred thoughts about what he could do as Prince in a biopic! I think he could be amazing … there is something about the low drawl of his voice that feels like it could work. But then again, maybe he is typecast as Freddie Mercury.

Happy Friday!

What’s Your Color?

In the early 90s, Prince wrote a song called “Color,” a song that is important during this month of March because it was as close to a manifesto about communicating with color as Prince ever wrote. Given that Prince was somewhat color-obsessed during his long and prolific songwriting career (“Purple Rain,” “Raspberry Beret,” “Gold,” “Cream”), it makes sense that he attempted to synthesize those feelings into a song.

In “Color,” he equates colors with emotions (“Color me green if I cannot have what u’ve got / Color me blue until I do, ‘cuz the fire will sho’ ’nuff be hot.”). and in the final verses, turns the song into a call for unity (“What’s your color? Make it love.”). I’m not sure the song is as successful as the concept for the lyrics, and maybe that’s why it was shelved for a couple of years after it was recorded in 1992, finally appearing on 1994’s 1-800-NEW-FUNK, a compilation of music largely written and produced by Prince and recorded by other Paisley Park Records / NPG Records artists. The song was recorded by Jevetta, Fred, J.D. and Jearlyn Steele, four members of a family group consisting of five siblings who grew up in Gary, Indiana singing together before eventually settling in Minnesota. (From 1989 to 1994, the Steeles, either as a group or individually, sang on various Prince releases).

When in Rome

This week in Open Art Studio, I took the plunge and tried painting. I haven’t taken art since 7th grade, so you can imagine that it all felt a little foreign! Expressing yourself in a new medium is a little like trying to write with your non-dominant hand. The act feels awkward, but you can feel synapses in your brain firing that haven’t fired in forever, and that triggers all sorts of new ideas and associations.

Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing, but I did it anyway and my classmates were so helpful. I joked that my fellow artists needed to write a blog post while I painted! I found it hilarious that my fellow students were painting with sophisticated hues like Cerulean Blue while I showed up — LITERALLY — with bottles of Crayola-brand paint that I bought at Office Depot (for good measure, I also purchased the matching Crayola brushes and all-purpose paper). A generous classmate loaned me a palette. Hey, I had planned to use a Tupperware lid, but why not! Soon, I was off and painting. In the picture above, you can see my first effort. I painted the clouds in a perfectly blue Minneapolis sky, inspired by the famous suit worn by Prince in the “Raspberry Beret” video, below.

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After I painted the sky, I got ambitious and did a drawing using a gold Sharpie. Finally, I decided to paint with the color red. It turned into a big fat red heart with yellow rays emanating from it. I didn’t know what I was making until I realized it was a birthday card for my father-in-law, who is 91 years old and in hospice. Even though he has dementia and has good days and bad, I hope he can feel the love!

Prince’s Love of Color Was Reflected in His Guitars

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Prince had some of the craziest and most colorful guitars in music history. More than simply custom guitars (which many musicians have), Prince had singular guitars with shapes that had never been used before. Above, this beautiful multicolored guitar was used late in his career when he had his all-female rock band, 3rdEyeGirl.

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Prince changed guitars like he changed outfits. I don’t know how he didn’t electrocute himself during the Super Bowl in the pouring rain but somehow, his guitars had his back on that one.

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This is one of his most distinctive guitars, which echoes the shape of his famous Love Symbol.

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And here he is wearing the Love Symbol pendant. The guitar he has here was used throughout his career. Like B.B. King had Lucille, Prince had Mad Cat.

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This is my favorite guitar. When you visit Paisley Park, you will see it in a case in the hallway leading to the soundstage. It’s so golden that it glows!

There’s a Song for Everything

Prince’s songs are like this colorful Moroccan apothecary. Take one for what ails you and call me in the morning.

Part of living like Prince is using his songs like an apothecary. I like to imagine his songs as colorful bottles on a shelf of a magical apothecary. Feeling blue? Pick the prescribed bottle off the shelf. Play its music and you might find your spirits lifting, or as Prince called titled of his songs, “Feel Good, Feel Better, Feel Wonderful.”

Prince left us more than a thousand released songs and for any possible emotional state, you’ll certainly find one that heals whatever ails you.

In keeping with the theme for my month of color, here are some common ailments and colorful Princely prescriptions:

SYMPTOM: You broke someone’s heart and “I’m sorry” doesn’t cut it.

PRESCRIPTION: There’s no better way to apologize than the opening lines of “Purple Rain”

SYMPTOM: You’re suffering from low self-confidence

PRESCRIPTION: “Cream,” a reminder of who you are and how much you’re capable of

SYMPTOM: You’re on cloud nine, having met someone who wows you

PRESCRIPTION: “Raspberry Beret,” my personal favorite Prince-penned pop song

SYMPTOM: You are crushed by yet another horrific act of violence that sees innocent people being killed

PRESCRIPTION: A song called “Cinnamon Girl” about a woman who prays for no more war

SYMPTOM: You’ve had a rotten string of bad relationship luck

PRESCRIPTION: Until you find a righteous one … “Computer Blue”

SYMPTOM: This time, you’re on the receiving end of an unwanted break-up and you can’t stop playing the memories back in your mind

PRESCRIPTION: “Tangerine” has Prince using his ex’s picture as a coaster and bemoaning that she changed her phone number

SYMPTOM: You’re feeling disgusted by our celebrity culture

PRESCRIPTION: “Gold,” because Prince has been to the mountaintop and he wants you to know — there’s nothing there.

When Inspiration Comes, Grab It and Work as Fast As You Can

Sometimes at night I put a glowing orb on my nightstand and stare at it as it changes colors. (The color-changing orb is the goofiest thing, I swear. It cost maybe $3 and I’ve had it for years). I get so absorbed in the brilliant cobalt shade of blue that when it begins to fade and morph into the next color, I am literally sad to see blue disappear. And then as blue gives way to green, I fall in love with the green. I am fickle.

Now I’m dreaming of summer and wish I was sitting on the grass at Lake Ann watching my kids playing with the dog. But I’m only allowed a moment’s reverie. The colors of the orb are fleeting. I want to capture the smell of green grass before green disappears and morphs into purple.

As I feel about colors in the orb, Prince felt about creative inspiration. He believed you must capture inspiration when it strikes, and act on it. In Paisley Park, he built a world around him that supported his work 24 hours a day. Every room was wired for sound — including the bathrooms. There was literally no way for inspiration to escape Prince. He had it cornered. And when it came, he worked as hard as he could for as long as inspiration stuck around. When it was done, he rested. Knowing that Prince lived his life that way, watching the orb, I released purple and watched as it morphed into love.

Go Ahead, Play Favorites

This gold cover is my favorite. Too bad for the other colors!

A good leader is fair and equitable. A good leader might feel more positive about one team member than the other but treats them both the same. A good leader makes sure all team members get an equal chance and equal assignments. Right?

Wrong! The best leaders play favorites all the time. Leaders lean on the people who show they are willing to say yes to the organization. Why struggle to convince people who are resistant to doing what needs to be done — whether that’s a business, or a band? Playing favorites can be viewed as a way of going with the flow. In a competitive world, playing favorites can give your organization a competitive advantage.

If Prince ever had a band member who wasn’t willing to do the work (“Are we really going to work these hours?” “I need to get home for (insert event),” they got left behind. Your work ethic is one way to make yourself a favorite. If you were a girlfriend, however, I think the playing favorites tendency wouldn’t be any fun at all. Your time basking in the sunshine of his attention would be heavenly, but the inevitable fall? Ouch. That would be tremendously painful.

But, back to color. Prince would become besotted by a certain color and wear it, sing about, buy a car in that color, get his band members to wear complementary colors — he was unabashedly playing color favorites. As I mentioned yesterday, he went through a yellow period in the early 90s that makes me happy. But the yellow period eventually ended and we wound up with Prince wearing an electric blue jumpsuit with his hair in pigtails by the end of the 20th century. I guess you could say that all good things never last. There was great controversy in 2017 when Tyka Nelson declared that her brother’s favorite color was orange, not purple. I’m sure orange did have his heart in some period of time. But Prince was never going to be fenced in with one favorite for his whole life. He rolled with his emotions and happily embraced his next favorite color.

Who Else Loves Yellow?

I am a sucker for anything yellow, including these orchids in the conservatory at the Arboretum.

How did the color yellow become so maligned? It’s connected with two unattractive “-ice” words — cowardice and jaundice. But to me, it’s the color of playfulness and joyousness. I love yellow. It’s the only color that makes me smile just looking at it.

In the early 90s, Prince seemed hell-bent on getting away from purple and eventually, even his identity as Prince. He wore a lot of yellow during a string of early 90s albums that included Diamonds & Pearls and the Love Symbol album and then morphed into gold with The Gold Experience, which was released after he dropped his name and adopted the Love Symbol as his name. In the early 90s, Prince was working to make a comeback after the commercial failure of Grafitti Bridge and was bursting forth with the energy that came from having a new band called the New Power Generation that could seemingly play anything. He even had a yellow BMW that featured prominently in the videos for Gett Off and Gangster Glam.

Prince’s yellow period is cemented in history with the infamous yellow lace “butt out” suit that he wore to perform “Gett Off” on the MTV Video Music Awards in 1991, two years after Andrew Dice Clay had been banned for life for a routine that included two of the seven words you can never say on television. Prince’s yellow butt-out suit was one in a long history of shocking VMA stunts, from Michael Jackson’s awkward kiss of Lisa Marie Presley to proclaim their love (1994), to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” writhing on stage in a wedding dress in the show’s inaugural year, 1984 (and many years later, kissing Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears).

I’m not much into butt-out suits but I am considering buying this yellow sweater in honor of my month of color and in my undying optimism that spring will one day arrive. I don’t know if I look great in yellow, but who cares! If it makes you happy …