When Prince’s iconic band The New Power Generation goes on tour in March in Australia, they will have a new official lead singer by the name of Mackenzie.
Corey Falkenthal – Mackenzie
The NPG’s new lead singer
Mackenzie’s talent convinced Prince’s former band members soon after he arrived at rehearsals in Minneapolis in preparation to perform with the NPG at a number of public shows during Super Bowl week. In addition to performing on the Super Bowl Live outdoors stage, the band played four sold-out shows at the Dakota Jazz Club, Feb. 2-3 – where Prince had done a six-day residency just a few years ago.
Not only did the band think he was special, the crowds at Super Bowl Live and at The Dakota – along with those fans ‘attending’ through social media streaming and videos – lit up the band’s social media sites with overwhelming applause.
Mackenzie got the call for the gig when Prince’s former manager, and now NPG’s manager, Jill Willis, made contact with him through Jammcard. When she first reached out to him through the app, asking if he would be interested in joining the band for the shows in Mpls and possibly trying out for position with the band, he thought it was a joke. “Initially, I ignored it,” Mackenzie recalled. “Then she called me. I ignored that at first too but then I decided I better check this out.”
Mackenzie grew up in a strict household, where secular music was taboo. “Before I started pursuing singing professionally, Prince’s music was taboo music,” the 30-year old recalled. “But it always had a spiritual feel to it for me, like that energy you get from music in church.”
Speaking about the NPG, Mackenzie said: “This is a great group of musicians and I’m honored to be working with them; they played with one of the most gifted musicians and songwriters of the past century, so I’m constantly learning from them.”
“One thing I’ve rediscovered just being with the band briefly is how to respect the stage and always be growing on it. I also learned that by watching James Brown. That’s always a key to a good performance and these guys drew it out of me.”
Morris Hayes is NPG’s music director. He’s the longest-running member of the NPG who played keyboards with Prince off and on for 20 years and who was on keys the night Prince played the now legendary Super Bowl halftime show in 2007. He said he was “delighted” to welcome Mackenzie to the NPG, calling him “a gifted and magnetic singer with amazing charisma that locks you into his performances immediately.”
“He’s a friggin’ star! He absolutely crushed those Prince songs,” added former Prince choreographer Barry Lather about Mackenzie’s performance at The Dakota shows.
Jill Willis – The new official NPG
Performing at the Super Bowl, from left: Kip Blackshire, Tony Mosley, Mackenzie, Damon Dickson and Sonny Thompson
The NPG are about to embark on another tour, kicking off in Japan, where they are going to perform six shows at Billboards Live in Osaka and Tokyo, March 20-23 (with former NPG vocalist Kip Blackshire and Tamar Davis on lead vocals). The band will then head to Australia where they will also be joined by Andre Cymone and their new front man Mackenzie, to take the stage at the 170 Russell in Melbourne, March 26. Next up on the list is the Enmore Theatre in Sydney on March 28, before heading to Bluesfest in Byron’s Bay, March 30-31 – all promoted by Peter Noble of Bluesfest/Bluesfest Touring. This will be followed by European shows between May and August. Plans for U.S. dates are in the works as well by the band’s new North American agent, Kevin Daly, of Northstar Artists.
Although there are a number of bands performing concerts to pay tribute to the late singer, two bands – The Revolution and the NPG – are just doing what they used to do when their famous boss was at the helm. And while there are a number of former members of the New Power Generation, this particular group of musicians who mostly made up the original line-up, is the real deal, says the band’s international agent Quentin Geerinckx of QG Enterprise. “The NPG have an official licensing agreement with the Prince Estate to use the name and have the authority to perform concerts as The New Power Generation (NPG), with the support of Paisley Park,” he told Pollstar.
Geerinckx said he feels it is important to speak out about this fact because there are an increasing number of tribute shows and tribute acts that are not sanctioned by the Prince estate and it does cause confusion – especially when some promoters advertise certain former members of the NPG as “The NPG” and/or suggest that their shows are an official tribute show.
– The NPG tour poster
featuring the new NPG lead singer Mackenzie