André Cymone, a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer, is more than a branch in the Prince musical family tree.
Born Andre Simon Anderson in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Cymone grew up in a supportive household where fellow aspiring musicians congregated and practiced. One peer was Prince, who even stayed with the family for a time. Cymone and Prince, whose fathers also played together, were in fledgling bands, Grand Central and Champagne, until Prince signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. After Prince released his debut, 1978's For You, he had Cymone join his touring band as its bassist. Cymone remained with Prince until 1981, signed with Columbia as a solo artist, and released three albums -- Livin' in the New Wave (1982), Survivin' in the '80s (1983), and A.C. (1985) -- that fused funk, new wave, hard rock, and pop. Six singles from these releases made Billboard's R&B chart. The biggest hit, 1985's "The Dance Electric," was written by Prince and reached number ten.
While Cymone wrote and produced four songs for Evelyn "Champagne" King's 1983 album Face to Face (including the Top 30 R&B single "Teenager") and was the driving force behind the 1984 Columbia-released album Girl Talk by the Girls, he didn't focus on outside work until after the release of A.C. Cymone worked briefly with Pebbles ("Love/Hate"), James Ingram ("Better Way"), Jermaine Stewart (Say It Again), Phil Thornalley ("Love Me Like a Rock"), Pretty Poison (the Top Ten Hot 100 single "Catch Me I’m Falling"), Adam Ant (Manners & Physique), and Tom Jones (The Lead and How to Swing It). His most lasting success came with Jody Watley, to whom he was married for several years. The two collaborated extensively, from Watley's 1987 full-length solo debut through 1993's Intimacy -- a partnership that yielded the number one R&B singles "Looking for a New Love" and "Real Love," as well as the Top Five hits "Still a Thrill," "Some Kind of Lover," "Friends," and "I Want You." From the mid-'90s onward, Cymone wasn't as visibly active. He worked with independent artists, including fellow Prince associate St. Paul Peterson (Blue Cadillac, 1996), Angel Sessions (Introducing, 1998), and Jody Russell (Just in Time, 1999). Cymone spent several years away from the industry, as a family man, and returned in 2012 with "America" -- an uplifting rocker for which all proceeds went to Barack Obama's re-election campaign. The following year, he released "Trayvon" in response to the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, and donated the song's proceeds to the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Cymone's forth album, the rock-oriented The Stone, followed in 2014. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi