Longtime fans might recognize Jay Prince & Friends as a perennial delight at Westchester Magazine’s annual Best of Westchester parties, or any of the plethora of other local events stages they grace throughout the year. More recently, you might have seen them in your Facebook feed.
Last week, the band released a mashup music video featuring a dozen-plus artists to combine the 1965 Jackie DeShannon hit “What the World Needs Now” with JPF’s traditional closing number, “That’s the Way of the World” by Earth, Wind & Fire. In under a week the video has already been viewed more than 26,000 times on Facebook alone.
“All those musicians I work with through the course of the year,” Prince says. “We’ve done so many different projects together. I had this concept that I wanted to put something out since we’re all stuck in this pandemic world, that we could share as a message of love.”
The result is upliftingly positive at a time when that emotional energy is sorely needed. Nicole Wright Audrey Martells, Dennis Collins, and Keith Anthony Fluitt provide charged, ecstatic vocals over Prince and Nick Kas-Audio on guitar, Bill Heller on keys, Lee Finkelstein on percussion, Dave Anderson playing bass, and a wall of deep brass sound courtesy of Chris Eminizer, Jerry Sokolov, and Jens Wendelboe.
“We wanted to do something that we could create while social distancing,” says Prince. “Everybody who didn’t have at-home recording equipment got some [and] video was mostly shot on their phones!”
While so many artists are out of work, it’s wonderful to see so many local musicians and supporting technicians and industry professionals coming together and creating, but Jay Prince & Friends made sure that good will wasn’t the only thing they were garnering by putting out this video.
In a Facebook laden with thanks and appreciation and effulgent with love, the band closes asking for fans who can spare it to donate to several nonprofits — “If you enjoy our video please consider a donation to one of our favorite charities: ACLU, MusiCares, FEEDING AMERICA.”
“There’s so many worthy causes out there and we really wanted to do something,” Prince says. “The ACLU is something that deals with people of all ethnicities. And as far as Feeding America goes, no kid should go hungry. MusiCares you can donate to musicians that are dealing with drug abuse, depression, no work — you can handpick.”
Ultimately, Prince hopes the video will spread joy through this era of the COVID-19 pandemic, from a community of musicians and artists to the fans with whom they currently aren’t yet able to reunite. “It was really a collaboration of love from all the band members, and they’re all superstars in their own right.”
To keep up with news and postponed/rescheduled tour dates from Jay Prince & Friends, visit Hal Prince Music and Entertainment.