Producing Prince, making hits: All in a day's work for 25-year-old Joshua Welton
Even in the wildest of Joshua Welton's dreams, he didn't picture producing a couple of albums for Prince by the age of 25.
Even in the wildest of Joshua Welton’s dreams, he didn’t picture producing a couple of albums for Prince by the age of 25.
“Who could dream to produce Prince?” Welton told theGrio.com. “You don’t dream to produce Prince because that’s not something that he’s even made available like that.”
But Welton has turned what many people thought would never happen into his blossoming career’s crowning achievement.
In Prince’s nearly 40-year career, he had produced all of his music and never shared the “produced, arranged, composed and performed by” credit with anyone.
But that all changed last year with the release of Art Official Age, where Welton’s name accompanied Prince’s as album producer.
Hand-selected by the iconic artist himself, Welton had officially become the New Power Generation’s first in-house producer.
This week, Prince’s latest album, HITNRUN Phase One, was released exclusively on Jay Z’s Tidal service. Once again, Welton shared the producer credit with one of his musical idols.
“It feels amazing,” the Chicago native said. “The only dream I ever had was possibly sharing the same stage with him one day, or maybe do a song with him. But this one is definitely a dream that is quite unexpected. God can only make the impossible possible.”
Welton’s journey to the Paisley Park recording studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota, began with a phone call.
But it wasn’t for him.
It was for his wife, Hannah, who was hand-picked by Prince to be the drummer in his new backing band, 3RDEYEGIRL.
The call couldn’t have come at a better time for the couple, who were experiencing some tough times. They were staying with friends in Atlanta, and Welton was working as a security guard at a parking lot.
“Before we got the call, Hannah and I were in a different kind of state,” Welton said. “The timing was beyond perfect.
As his wife rehearsed with Prince and his new band at Paisley Park, Welton stood in the shadows and observed.
“I was just supporting Hannah,” he said. “I just wanted to see her dreams come to fruition.”
Welton, a singer, musician, songwriter, dancer, engineer and producer, did have dreams of his own from an early age.
He recalled singing and sitting on his dad’s lap and listening to Funkadelic, James Brown, Michael Jackson and of course, Prince. His family history also includes some musical legends, including Dinah Washington and Count Bassey.
He performed at church and talent shows, which helped him get signed to Sony/Columbia Records ten years ago as a member of the short-lived hip-hop sextet Fatty Koo.
Soon after, Welton pursued his desire to be a solo artist.
“Before I met Prince, I was doing the artist thing myself,” Welton said. “I produced my own music and things like that, very similar to how Prince did.”
Welton said his first meeting with Prince started with a hug and continued into a two-hour conversation about faith. They didn’t talk about music, and Welton said he wasn’t sure Prince was even familiar with his musical background.
They just became friends.
“In a nine month period, I didn’t do anything but support [Hannah] and learn, and then boom it happened,” he recalled. “Prince was like, ‘Hey, we need a producer.'”
Welton landed the gig following an on-the-spot competition with two other producers. He also began playing the keyboard in 3RDEYEGIRL.
He still remembers the surreal feeling when he created a “Prince” folder on his hard drive for the first time.
“I could not have orchestrated this,” Welton admits. “It was so crazy. Everything about him is iconic and legendary. It’s just beyond me.”
Welton credited his surprise producing opportunity to just being in the room.
“Being that I was there for almost a year, not doing any business, it really helped our business relationship because when you’re working with a friend, it only makes things that much easier,” Welton said of Prince. “Being around that funk all the time, it’s contagious.”
A physical release of HITNRUN Phase One is slated for Sept. 14, and more music could be on the way, he hinted.
“Like everybody might know, who knows about the record, it only says, ‘Phase One,'” he said. “So I guess we’ll see what happens next.”