It has been three years since the Olympics in Bejing, so to refresh—the heptathlon is primarily a female event comprised of seven competitions in track and field including: 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 meters, long jump, javelin throw, and 800 meters. Needless to say, the contenders for this event are the baddest-ass divas on the planet.
Though she left the game before reaching Olympic levels, R&B/rock 'n' roll singer Liv Warfield brings the same commanding presence and tenacity to stage as she did to the track back in her college days at Portland State. She returns to Oregon—where her singing career trumped her sports career—for a performance at Munch and Music.
But just because she has crossed over to musical stardom, doesn't mean she has forgotten her athletic days—she still rises at 6:30 a.m. for a run and an omelet.
Warfield reminisces as she prepares her spinach and eggs, "At 7 years old, I knew I wanted to be an entertainer of some sort. At first, I wanted to be a news anchor, then I wanted to be a singer like Diana Ross. I never sang in front of my family, though I grew up in the church; they only knew I was a runner and a gymnast. That is tough, not doing what everyone planned."
Warfield started her singing career in the karaoke bars of Portland while on a track and field scholarship for Portland State in the early 2000s, and has since released two CDs and sings backup for Prince—yes, that Prince.
"It has been a crazy journey," she says. "There are so many emotions involved in that. Prince is like a mentor; he is the greatest. I'm still trippin' talking about that—that is still kind of a skin-pinching situation."
Prince responded to her demo in 2009 after she self-released her first album Embrace Me in 2006, and not only has she been backup vocals for Prince's New Power Generation, her most recent album The Unexpected, released in 2014, included Prince as the executive producer. He also wrote the title track, "The Unexpected" and they collaborated on the song "Your Show." The album was well received, earning three 2014 Soul Train Music Awards last November.
Warfield has freshly returned from a European tour with her band Blackbird, which holds a different dynamic for her than American audiences.
"From Serbia to Switzerland to Paris, people knew my music," she beams. "I am really looking forward to playing a lot more overseas. It is way different; I feel like they still get it—the music and value of musicianship. The respect is still there. That is something that we have lost in the United States, but the value is really important."
How did we lose it?
"Maybe we have lost the respect of the ones who did it before us," Warfield speculates. "My mom would say that, 'There is nothing new under the sun.' Sometimes you are pulling from the greats; you are doing your own stuff and making it innovative, but they did it first."
She also misses the collaboration of yesteryear.
"I wish there was still times like Motown when everyone is singing on everyone else's albums," she says. "I remember hearing Michael Jackson on Stevie Wonder's album, but it isn't like that anymore."
Her other future goals besides a new album in early 2016? The usual. Traveling the world. Having a few kids. And performing to sold-out arenas.
Though Warfield recently relocated from Portland back to her native Illinois, she still holds a special place in her heart for Oregon, and Bend.
"I love how beautiful the city is," she says. "My best friend's parents live there. They have solar panels; everything is run 'ecosystem-style,' which is a culture shock for me, but it is so great."
Liv Warfield with Ian James and Zoe Ze Rox
5:30 pm, Thursday, August 13
Drake Park, 777 NW Riverside Blvd.