Hear the original and Prince’s version below.
Prince’s cover of Christian singer-songwriter Nichole Nordeman’s What If, one of two new songs he debuted leading up to tonight’s Hit & Run tour launch in Louisville, Ky., has been in the works for years.
Nordeman says she received a call more than five years ago from Prince’s management asking for permission to cover What If, a hit for her on Christian radio in 2005.
“I didn’t hear anything else, so I thought it had just died,” she said.
But a January 2013 Billboard cover story showed Prince hadn’t forgotten the song, stating that he was rehearsing it with 3rdEyeGirl, the female backing trio whose lineup was still solidifying at the time.
“That was a huge honor to me, that he was playing it, even if it wasn’t an official recording,” Nordeman says.
“I think Prince just heard it on the radio one day while he was driving and really liked the song, then brought it to me and the girls and just said, ‘Hey, do you guys like this? Let’s learn it,'” 3rdEyeGirl drummer Hannah Welton said during a radio interview preceding the track’s premiere. “Then he put his touch on it, obviously, and arranged it. Our version is much different than the original version, but just as impactful and meaningful.”
Original version by Nichole Nordeman:
Prince’s new version: