When Suzanne Vega tweeted a photo on Monday of a sweet letter she received from Prince, praising her 1987 song “Luka,” she thought her fans would enjoy it. She never expected it to receive worldwide attention.
“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to go as viral as it did,” she told Billboard on Thursday night at the ASCAP Pop Music Awards. “I share a lot of things with my fans on Twitter and Facebook. I shared some texts I’d had with Lou Reed, as an example, so I just thought this could be something they might like, especially when I feel that we’re all grieving together. Somehow it reached many more people than that, so I’ve been appreciative of all that outpouring and love for Prince.”
The handwritten note addresses her as “Dearest Suzanne” and reads, “Luka is the most compelling piece of music I’ve heard in a long time. There are no words 2 tell you all the things I feel when I hear it. I thank God 4 u.” It is signed Prince, with a cross under his name, and a drawing of a flower.
Prince was certainly not alone in his love for the song about an abused child, which went on to win Grammys for song and record of the year in 1988.
As much a fan as they were of each other’s work, Vega told Billboard they never met. “But I’ve always felt that connection because of the letter and when I sang at the Grammys, he jumped to his feet after I sang the song and I knew he loved it,” she said. “I’ve seen him perform many times and loved him.”
Vega is now working on a musical about The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter author Carson McCullers called Lover Beloved: An Evening with Carson McCullers. The show is an updating of her 2011 off-off Broadway play Carson McCullers Talks About Love. Like the older iteration, the play features music from Vega and Duncan Sheik. She is workshopping the play through Sunday at the Sherry Theater in Los Angeles as both a one-woman play and as a two-women play, with Vega playing the older McCullers. “She’s a great genius and I feel more people should know about her,” Vega said.
— Suzanne Vega (@suzyv) April 25, 2016