Bria Valente was one of Prince’s last girlfriends. The couple first met when she was just 17 and an aspiring singer. The music legend took Valente under his wing and produced her debut album, Elixer, which was released in 2009 along Prince’s efforts, LOtUSFLOW3R and MPLSoUND. Valente married in 2013 sometime after she broke up with Prince. He was found dead at his Paisley Park Studios home in Minneapolis on April 21, 2016. He was 57 years old.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Valente Began as a Backing Singer for Prince & Usher
She was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as Brenda Fuentes. Her AllMusic bio describes her beginnings as being as a backup singer for Usher as well as being a model in Los Angeles.
In an interview with Tavis Smiley in 2009, which you can watch above, Valente said that she first met Prince when she was 17 at Paisley Park Studios, prior to moving to Los Angeles. At that time, Valente was working with keyboard player Morris Hayes.
Valente explained to Smiley that upon her return to Minneapolis, she began to work with Prince in 2007. Her voice can be heard on his 2007 effort, Planet Earth.
She also said in the interview that her father was musical and encouraged all of his children to pursue music, putting on shows in their neighborhood in Minneapolis.
2. She Converted to Becoming a Jehovah’s Witness in 2010 & Remained in the Faith When She Married Alex Reece in 2013
In a rare interview that Prince gave to the Daily Mirror in 2010, he confirmed that Valente had converted to being a Jehovah’s Witness in 2007 when they began dating. A retrospective piece by the Mirror on the day of Prince’s death said when their reporter asked about Valente in 2010, he replied, “Self interest is on the back-burner now.”
The book, Prince: Chaos, Disorder, and Revolution, talks about Prince being primarily interested in Valente because of “how rapidly she picked up scripture.”
A 2008 feature on Prince in the LA Times referred to Valente as “comely.”
3. Valente’s Music Career Has Been On Hold Since 2012’s Prince Produced Single ‘2nite’
The AllMusic bio also reads in part, “Typically visually stunning Prince protégée known for her smooth, mellow, quiet storm-esque style.”
Metacritic gave her 2009 album Elixer 49 out of 100. The Washington Post’s J. Freedom du Lac reviewed the album saying it was a collection of, “limpid, fairly generic set of airy, cooing soul.” du Lac also remarked that Valented was “Prince’s new Tamar (who was supposed to be his new Apollonia.)”
Prior to the album’s release, Prince told the Guardian, “We got sick of waiting for Sade to make a new album.” He added:
This music is nasty, but it’s not dirty. There’s no profanity. It isn’t promoting promiscuity. [Valente is] singing about her lover, who could be her partner for life.
4. Her Whereabouts Are a Constant Discussion Point at Prince.org
There are constant discussions about Valente’s whereabouts on Prince.org, the singer’s official messageboard. One user on the forum claimed to know that Prince only took her under his wing as a favor to a friend. In Prince: Chaos, Disorder, and Revolution, it’s noted that one review of Valente’s album included the line, “a throwaway, done as a favor for a friend.”
In her Twitter bio, Valente writes, “My 1 and only Twitter account. I am a Model/Singer. I was commonly known as being the ex girlfriend of Prince.”
5. She Wasn’t the Only Backup Singer That Prince Got Involved With
Famously Prince was linked to dozens of women during his illustrious career. In 1996, when the singer was 37, he married his backup singer, Mayte Garcia, who was 22 at the time. They had a child together, Boy Gregory, he died just a week after his birth due to a condition known as Pfeiffer snydrome. The couple divorced in 1999.