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27 June 2013

My Love is Forever (Part III): Esther "Elo" Ojeda



  "Dyes Got the Answers 2 Ur ?s” is celebrating 35 years since the release of Prince's first studio album “For You,” with a series where we interview readers who have been fans from the very beginning.
  It all began when Warner Bros. Records released “For You,” on April 7, 1978, with the album's first single, “Soft and Wet” being released approximately two months later.
  K Nicola Dyes interviewed Esther "Elo" Ojeda, of Gary, Indiana about three months ago and discussed the first time Ojeda was onstage with Prince, why she never thought his music was controversial and how the artist has influenced her life:

  "I would've fallen off the bandwagon long ago if he were just another pretty face. But, he's pure genius."

  ?: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
  EO: I was born in Gary, Indiana, home of The Jacksons, and I am the youngest of four kids. My brothers were in their teens when I was born; I was the mistake child.
  I was a big fan of Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5. But, a lot of my musical influences came from my brothers and father. My oldest brother really liked rock and roll. I started getting into rock and roll-- The Beatles were my first rock band-- when I was 10 years old. I think that's why I like Prince so much (now), because, he isn't a traditional R&B singer.
  ?: Can you tell me about the first time you saw Prince or heard his music?
  EO: I remember the very first time I saw Prince. I was in high school and somebody walked by with a Right On! magazine and there was a picture of him—he was light skinned, with hazel eyes and had a big afro. It was his look that first drew me in.
  I eventually heard his song, ("Soft and Wet"), on the radio. But, I said "(He) sounds like a girl. I don't like this." I dismissed him, at the time, after hearing his falsetto. However, I would watch all his TV appearances.  But, the bikini underwear and trench coat period (during the Dirty Mind era) was my least favorite. I guess my mind wasn't ready for what he was doing.
  I (later) had a boyfriend whose youngest sister was always raving about Prince. She was 13 years old, about four years younger than me. I would shake my head and say "Who is this with the panties and the trench coat?" She thought he was so sexy, but, I just didn't see it.
  My freshman year of college (1981-1982) I heard the song "Private Joy," which I liked. Also, my college roommate during freshman year had the poster with Prince in the shower (from the Controversy album) in our room. Everyday I came in the room, I had to look at this poster with the man wearing bikini panties. His next album was 1999 and he just so happened to come to Gary, Indiana on tour, but, I missed out on that.
  The “Purple Rain" Soundtrack came out (in 1984) before the movie. (Prince) was getting more into the rock music field and I really liked that. I went to see the movie with a guy who wanted to be Morris Day. He wore a suit, a tie and he was always saying "Yeeeessss". He thought he was Day. Ever since I saw that movie I have been lost. I fell off the purple cliff.
  When I see people I haven't talked to in a long time, they ask me three things: "How are you? How's your family? You still like Prince?" I am well known as the girl that likes Prince.

Copy of Right On! Magazine

  ?: How many times have you seen Prince in concert? When was the first time? The last time?
  EO: I think I've seen him 16 times. I've been on stage (with Prince and his band) twice.
  My first concert was during the “New Power Soul” Tour with Larry Graham, Chaka Khan and Doug E. Fresh in 1998. My friend's boss gave him the tickets, but, my friend knew I was crazy about Prince, so, he gave them to me. 
  He looked just like he did in the pictures, sounded like he did on the records and I was in awe. I came out of that (show) having a better appreciation of his musicianship.
 The very first time I was onstage was in 2004, during the "Musicology" Tour. I drove to Champaign, Ill. with two people, one of them was Marcus Scott. He had made these supposed "tour badges" and people thought we were with the band. We went up to a security guard and I asked "How do you pick people to go onstage?" and he said "I missed that meeting."
  I got up there, because, Prince's hairstylist was looking out from under the stage. She decided on her own to pick a couple people to go on stage. She poked her head out and I was in the aisle seats. When I noticed one person go up onstage, I made it so I stuck out. I caught her eye, pointed to myself and said “Me?” She motioned to me and I flew in under the stage, where the staircase was.
  My legs were shaking and felt like spaghetti. I said "Wow, I'm here." I was standing there dancing and I looked to my right and saw Scott. He was doing splits, spinning and dancing around the stage. He was eventually taken off, but, he made it over to where I was before that happened. It was hilarious and beyond a happy moment. I was ecstatic.
   I remember standing near Prince for the very first time and he walked by me. I thought “Oooh...he's so small.” He was the same size as my son who was then 9 years old, but, a lot of talent came out of a small package.
  The last concert I went to was (one of) the "Welcome 2 Chicago" shows (at the United Center) in Sept. 2012. He (also) did three nights of aftershows at the House of Blues in Chicago and I went to the second one. Prince tossed his tambourine to me during the show. He came over to me a couple more times and I ended up taking the flower out of my hair and giving it to him. And I did touch his hand.

  ?: What is your favorite Prince album and song? Your least favorite?
  EO: My favorite album is his very first, "For You." I have a lot of favorites songs, but, the long version of "Let's Go Crazy," will get me out on the dance floor, without a shadow of a doubt. That's the song where I lost my mind and never looked back.
  My least favorite album is 20Ten. My least favorite song... that's hard to say.
  ?: What is your favorite Prince music video?
  EO: "Partyman." I loved the concept. I loved the comedy, the dancing and his costume. I just loved the whole song. I remember when "Batman" came out, I stood in a long line to see (the movie).
  ?: Did the fact that Prince was often considered "controversial" have any appeal for you?
  EO: Well, you have to remember that I also was coming into myself. I did not look at him as being controversial. The music drew me to him...after I got past the bikini underwear and stuff.
  I grew up going to church with my parents and I'm sad to say that I never knew the words to the Lord's Prayer. I learned them through the song "Controversy."
  You had to understand what Prince saying in order for it to be controversial. But, if you didn't understand also thought it was controversial. Like the song "Cream." From what I remember it's actually a spiritual song. It has spiritual connotations if you really listen. People thought it was something nasty, but, it really wasn't. In a drink the "cream" is the top. He was referring to himself as being the best. It sounded nasty, but, it really wasn't.
  ?: Has Prince ever done anything that, as a fan, you did not understand?
  EO: Why doesn't he like being photographed at concerts? Why does he seek legal action against people who do certain things? I don't understand why bands like The Time and The Family could not continue to use those names.
?: What is your most treasured Prince-related possession?
  EO: You know, I have my stuff hidden away. I don't even know what I have! But, I do have some of Prince's guitar picks. Those are definitely the most prized possessions.
  ?: How has Prince's music influenced you?
  EO: How has it influenced me? Well... that's personal. Hint, hint, hint. Let's just say most guys think that women who listen to Prince are really something.
  Every album represents different phases of my life. I am glad to say that Prince's music has always been the main soundtrack of my life.
  ?: How do your friends and family feel about you being such an avid Prince fan?
  EO: My son was conceived during a Prince song when I was married. I can tell you the song: "Insatiable." He understands it, but, he thinks it's kind of crazy.
  My friends ask me "You still like him? You haven't gotten over him yet?" I tell them no. What's to get over?
  ?: What's the best part about being a Prince fan?
  EO: For a long time, I was alone in my fandom in Gary, Indiana. This is the land of The Jackson 5. It wasn't until 10 years ago that I started going to the (now defunct) Prince parties at Club Berlin (in Chicago). I met great people, partied with them and had all these crazy adventures.
  I'm the person that people who know me think of first when they see or hear a song, video or movie with Prince. That happens all the time and still puts a grin on my face.

  ?: Who is your favorite associated artist? Why?
  EO: My favorite would have to be Sheila E. due to her longevity.
  ?: Why do you think you've remained a Prince fan for 35 years?
  EO: I love his music and his great talent. He has it all when it comes to being creative. (I like) the sound of his voice whether it be speaking or singing. And those eyes! I've been captivated by him all these years. I would've fallen off the bandwagon long ago if he were just another pretty face. But, he's pure genius.
  ?: What is your message for fans who may have recently discovered Prince?
  EO: You picked the perfect person to get into: he's a great musician, a great performer and he's not bad to look at.

Stay beautiful, Kristi


All photos courtesy of Esther Ojeda.



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