Prince Rogers Nelson. An idol of the world. Prince won over 32 awards for his music, including but not limited to 1 Academy Award, 5 AMAs, 7 Brit Awards, and 7 Grammys. He was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for his performances of 1999, Purple Rain, and Sign o’ the Times. Prince has hit multiple honors, of which some people could not think possible of a Black man. As of 2016, Prince’s hit record Raspberry Beret has sold over 600,000 copies in the United States alone. What is less well known about Prince is that although he was a god of the music industry, he was much more than just a musician.
Before reaching astonishing heights in the music industry, Prince had a hard childhood. He ran away from home at age 10 and moved in with his neighbors. Both of Prince’s parents were musicians but split up when Prince was 10. He taught himself how to play piano, guitar, and the drums. Prince also formed a band in high school called the Grand Central, a name that would later be changed to Champagne. This musical talent eventually turned into a recording deal with Warner Bros in 1978. That same year he dropped his debut album, For You. The next year he dropped the album Prince, which contained the hit record I Wanna Be Your Lover. This song went gold in 1980, meaning it sold over 1 million copies. As of today, Prince has 11 Platinum songs, and 4 Multi-Platinum songs. He also had the honor of performing at the 2007 Super Bowl halftime show, which Billboard.com named the greatest Super Bowl Halftime show ever.
Not only a musical sensation, Prince was very involved with social justice. His songs constantly involved themes of intersexuality, race, gender, and sex. In the 90’s, he would write slave on his face referring to his record label who he felt took control of his life, and music. He raised awareness to issues of racism and discrimination across the world. He donated millions to charities across the country. He used his platform to help people in need. His logo was a symbol of peace. A cross with the male and female symbol to describe unity and gender fluidity. In the time of Prince’s prime, gender was not talked about so much. Gender was binary, it was black and white. Prince enlightened people on the fact that gender is not what people are, it’s who they are.
I grew up listening to Prince around the house. I constantly heard his words ring through my ears; through the speakers as my mom cooked. I never truly understood what he meant to people. When I was younger, I always thought that the world was black and white, man and woman. I never understood what it meant to like other men, and I didn’t know anyone who accepted it. My friends and I never talked about liking boys, we never talked about our gender identity. As I grow into adulthood, I finally realize the importance of Prince. Prince broke the barriers of what it is to be human. He made life fluid and complex and celebrated everyone’s differences. I believe Northwest is trying to achieve this way of life. We try to celebrate our differences, and although it doesn’t always work, we are working as a community. Our community is strong with like minded people who try to do better.
Now that I am older, I can understand and respect people’s opinions, preferences and identities. I am now at a stage in my life where I have grown up, and realize we are all just trying to survive happily. Prince coined this way of life before it was cool. He did what he wanted, when fluidity was untolerated. He judged no one when everyone judged him. I think as a straight man, it is important for me to respect and love Prince for what he has done. I know I have not been an accepting person in the past, but through my own growth I try to understand what I didn’t before, and I believe a lot of people can attest to that. As someone who looks like Prince, I appreciate him. I appreciate our similarities and our differences, and I think that’s what life is about. I think this is especially important in the time we are in now. I know if Prince was here, he would try and celebrate unity instead of difference. I think that in the little time we have on Earth, we should appreciate where we have come, and how different we all are.
Life is just a party, and parties weren’t meant to last – Prince