By Ilana Kaplan // reposted from Paper Magazine // Read part 1 here

Prince’s mark on pop culture has been felt more and more deeply in the past 24 hour since his tragic death, with an outpouring of grief from the millions he captivated and influenced with his incredible abilities as a musician. Prince embraced his femininity and masculinity simultaneously – like David Bowie, reflecting “gender queer” before the term was coined – and embodying a sexual fluidity that he proudly highlighted instead of tamping it down. Prince was also bolstered live and on his albums by many female collaborators, and he championed female musicians and artistry in a way that was rare in the ‘80s and '90s. These women weren’t the decade’s usual cynical Robert Palmer drone models listlessly playing unplugged guitars, or back-up singers relegated to the shadows on the side stage, not to be seen. Prince’s bands, the Revolution, New Power Generation, and 3RDEYEGIRL almost always featured women who were making lots of noise. Women playing the drums – Sheila E. got her start with Prince – women shredding, women fucking rocking. Prince had them on stage with him not as sexy props, but as collaborators, helping several of them, like Vanity 6 and Sheena Easton, launch their own careers.

While Prince is no longer with us, his ability to use his talent and power to promote talented women is a lesson the music community should continue to embrace.

As we remember the Purple One, we also salute the women who tore it up live and in the studio with him and made him all the more funkier.

Sheena Easton

Over the years, Prince wrote a slew of songs for Sheena Easton to perform, including the masterfully erotic and downright filthy “Sugar Walls” and “101.” Sheena would continue to score hits, as well as duet with Prince during his career on songs like “U Got the Look.”

Ida Kristine Neilsen

Prince’s '00s backing band, 3rdEyeGirl, continued his tradition of working with women who could really shred. Danish bassist Nielsen blended her funky lines to the band from 2010 on. Here’s a video of her dropping some sweet riffs. You don’t get nicknames like Bassida and Ida Funkhouser for nothing.

Donna Grantis

An accomplished session musician with roots in jazz and blues, Grantis joined up with 3rdEyeGirl in 2010 and backed Prince on guitar on tour. She’s a master of the jam session, boasting the technical chops to rock a constellation of effects and pedals during their sets and match one of the guitar’s greatest talents.