Why Prince Matters To Us

PrinceThe world made an irreversible and seismic shift on Apr. 21, 2016 as  the world experienced the death of the seven-time Grammy award winning pop icon, Prince.

Some have been asking why this loss has been such an impact to so many. Why would a musician from Minnesota, dubbed by many as “The Purple One”, become a worldwide trending topic, the front page news story for every major news outlet, and leave a giant sized hole in our hearts? It’s because Prince was far more than just a “Minnesota musician”.

For four decades, the man born as Prince Rogers Nelson shared his musical genius with the world and became a voice for the creative. His desire to live and operate in freedom inspired everyone from the corner corporate office to the budding entrepreneur. He impacted the youth of the eighties who were just finding their way, and the baby boomers who found liberation at Woodstock in the sixties.

Prince-is-beautifulPrince fused pop, rock, funk, R&B, and any other genre he desired, becoming one of the first to effortlessly and authentically blur genre lines. He comfortably talked about sex and salvation, relationships and religion. He took up the cause of social justice both publicly and privately.

As a child of the eighties, our childhood was musically shaped by artists like Prince, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Whitney Houston. The commonality here was that each of these artists pushed once acceptable boundaries while expressing their artistry with full artistic freedom.

Truth be told, as children, we didn’t know what we were experiencing. We didn’t really know the musical affluence that became our creative foundation. So those of us “80’s babies,” who are now adults can now really analyze exactly what an icon like Prince meant to us.

prince-purple-rainIn a world that lived in separation and classification, Prince fused genre and racial lines in music that brought people together. He was an African-American man who could appease an urban audience on a piano and yet embrace rock lovers when he picked up a guitar. His androgynous attire and unabashed confidence redefined what a male rock star looked like and became cool in the process.

When the rest of the music community was satisfied with just getting a record deal, Prince fought record labels to get ownership of his masters. He fought for the rights of all artists in the 90’s when he battled Warner Brothers. He continued that fight in the 21st century when he was the first to pull his music from most streaming services.

Most of us didn’t really understand the cerebral nature of this undeniable genius. However now, we appreciate all that he brought to our world. Prince was a foundational representation of freedom, liberty, and artistic expression. He had a cause and fought for that until the end.

90b68f8c-964f-4591-8158-d4fb20e6469aIn his passing, we now learn of his many humanitarian efforts. Because of his religious beliefs, he wouldn’t publicize his random acts of kindness. In an era where most of us use community service as a charitable opportunity for a selfie, Prince preferred to allow his work to speak louder than a publicist. Much like when Jesus would perform a miracle and tell the recipient to tell no one, Prince preferred anonymity when helping others.

Very few artists can use their gifts to impact literally ALL people. He transcended boundaries of race, sexual orientation, religion, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Prince was an enigma, yet, somehow relatable. No, most of us didn’t know him personally. However, he is one of the last of the legends that represent our childhood. Originality, authenticity, and creative genius were all wrapped up in “The Purple One.”

Perhaps this will help you understand the collective gasp the world took on April 21, 2016 when Prince left us. Much like the moment when Michael Jackson transitioned, our world has irreversibly changed. While we won’t understand the why or the how, we are thankful that we were privileged to experience his gift and genius. And yes…the music. Now we will all get drenched in the Purple Rain.

Thank you Prince.

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