Singers Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone trade verses on the muted, atmospheric rendition of the Sinead O’Connor single, which closed out the university’s Blackstar Rising & The Purple Reign: Celebrating the Legacies of David Bowie and Prince.
The Brooklyn band previously covered “Purple Rain” at Minnesota’s famed First Avenue as a tribute to the singer.
The symposium took place over the course of the weekend at the Connecticut college, with Bowie’s Blackstar collaborator Donny McCaslin and Prince protégé Sheila E. among those taking part in discussions about the late icons’ work.
Questlove and Kimbra opened the conference with a DJ set, while Solange served as the keynote speaker during a panel titled Everybody Still Wants to Fly: Activism in Pop from Prince to Solange.
Following Bowie’s January 2016 death, TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek spoke to Rolling Stone about the singer’s influence on their music as well as working with Bowie on their 2006 LP Return to Cookie Mountain.
“[Around 2004] David was doing a photo shoot with a stylist I knew, and she happened to be playing [TV on the Radio’s] Young Liars during the shoot. David asked who it was, and she said, ‘It’s my friend’s band.’ And he said, ‘I’d like to talk to him.” She gave him my number. We were on tour in Philadelphia,” Sitek said.
“We were about to play a show and were unloading the van, and I got a call and it was him. At first I thought it was Julian [Gross] from the Liars fucking with me. David Bowie is pretty much the highest up in my world, so I was like, ‘Julian’s doing this.’ I was just in denial and I was questioning it. Then he said, ‘No, this is actually David.’
“I realized that even though Julian is an incredible prankster, he couldn’t pull off David Bowie’s voice. David was telling me about how much he loved the record and it was daring and refreshing and a bunch of other things. It was kind of a blur to me. I was like, ‘This is not happening.'”