Kamilah Cummings

Kamilah Cummings

Sunday's 1999 Presentation Panel Presenter

Are You Ready?

1999 as the Prototype for Prince’s Crossover

Prince entered the music industry during a time of overt segregation. As his former guitarist Dez Dickerson observed, there was white radio and black radio, white audiences and black audiences. So, while Prince enjoyed great success with black audiences from his debut album forward, systemic racism denied him access to the resources and wealth that accompanied “crossing over” to larger, white audiences. However, that changed with his fifth album. This presentation will explore how with 1999 Prince debuted the strategy he would deploy at different stages of his career to achieve crossover success.

Kamilah Cummings is a writer, editor, and visiting senior lecturer at DePaul University in Chicago. She has presented on Prince at Purple Reign, the first academic Prince conference (University of Salford, UK), and at Polished Solid Prince symposia at New York University, Spelman College, and online. She has also presented on Prince at The 2021 Pop Convergence (PopCon). Her work on Prince has been published in the Howard Journal of Communications special issue Prince in/as Blackness . . . and Prince and Popular Music: Critical Perspectives on an Interdisciplinary Life (Bloomsbury). She has also created the course, Prince: A New Breed Leader. A House music researcher as well, she created the course The House Chicago Built, has presented on House music at Black Portraiture[s] IV (Harvard University), and appears in the documentary The Woodstock of House. She is passionate about exploring the intersections of race and identity in media and pop culture, with a particular focus on centering blackness in the narratives of black people.