by Selena Shifflett
When Prince died on April 29th, 2016, the world was devastated. Some of the artists he has worked with in the past or influenced immediately started to honor him through pictures and their own ‘Prince’ stories.
Justin Timberlake on Instagram said this:
It was Raspberry Beret. I was 4 years old. Yes, 4. I remember that I instantly loved it. “Mommy, who is that singing?” Seems weird but it’s true. More than a “once in a lifetime” artist… Just a ONCE IN FOREVER ARTIST. I’m still in shock as I write this and I feel this overwhelming grief. But, we should all turn away from that and HONOR this musician that changed all of our lives, our perspectives, our feeling, our whole being. From another planet? Probably. Royalty, for sure. Us worthy..? Laughable.
They say don’t meet your idols… That they let you down. But, some of my greatest, funniest (yes, he was hilarious), and most prolific encounters and conversations about music came from the moments that I spent with him. It would be silly to say that he has inspired our music… It’s beyond that. He’s somewhere within every song I’ve ever written.
I am sad, but I will smile when I think of every second that I had the fortune of being in his company. We have lost our greatest living musician. But his music will never die.
Prince, NOTHING COMPARES…
Another ‘80s star, Madonna, said this:
“He Changed The World!! A True Visionary. What a loss. I’m devastated.”
Kesha, who once broke into Prince’s house to give him a copy of her demo CD, said this:
“What a magnificent life. thoughts and prayers to his family and fans around the world. Sometimes words just aren’t enough….”
Janelle Monaé, who Prince mentored, dedicated her entire concert to him. After taking the stage she said,
“Oh, we’re gonna party. We’re gonna celebrate Prince. My entire set is dedicated to him. He was free. He was fearless. He was music. He was rock and roll. He was on beat…. I am because he was. We’re gonna break boundaries, just like he did…. He stood for the weirdos. He stood for the unique and he stood for those that couldn’t stand up for ourselves. This is a time that we have to protect ourselves as human beings. Not black or white. As human beings.”
Stevie Wonder, one of Prince’s idols and good friends, did an interview with Anderson Cooper on Prince’s passing. In it, he said:
“It’s a heartbreak and I was shocked. I didn’t believe it as I find it so hard to believe… You know, in this journey of music, we as artists that create the reflection of society and reflect, really the people that really want to see a better world, a better people, a unity of people, all those things – as did his music do and will continue to do for those of us who will continue to listen to it – it’s a heartbreak to lose a member of that army of love.”
Some of the Monticello community had their own Prince stories to share.
“I didn’t really listen to him really early on because neither of my parents really liked him. Probably [going to my friend Selena’s house] would be the first time I can recall really putting the music to the name, because I think I knew who he was. I just remember in the background of our conversations that would always just play.” (Kelly Graff, ‘17)
“Admittedly, he was pretty rad, but the genius complex he carried with [him], no matter how much he could back it up, pissed me off to no end.” (Sam Jenkins, ‘18)
“I can distinctly recall the first time I heard a Prince song, Purple Rain to be exact. It was just after my family moved from Maryland into a new house and we were in the process of unpacking our things from the moving truck. My father set up his tiny yet very heavy stereo to play music while we worked to assemble our puke green couch in the family room. Of course, if you knew anything about my parents it is that they are complete 80s fans so it was no surprise that a Prince song came on. My father dropped his section of the couch and turned up the volume on the stereo. Everyone immediately dropped what they were doing and began to dance along to the beat. The entire experience was magical.” (Vivian Morris, ‘17)
“My parents were huge fans, so that’s how I was introduced to the music. When I was a baby, and crying in the car, my mother couldn’t calm me down because she was driving. So she would put on the album Rave and the Joy Fantastic and I would stop crying to listen.
My father’s two favorite songs were Purple Rain and When Doves Cry, but he says he loves them all. I grew up hearing him play Prince every night. The first time a song affected me so was when I heard Gold blasting through my dad’s speakers. I was then an official member of the New Power Generation.
For my dad, Prince was his escape. Prince was how he dealt with hard times and how he remembered the good. My father, in playing his music, intricately wove his own feelings and hardships and happiness into every chord, every rhythm, every beat. He wove his family and his friends and his wife and me and my sister into them, and wove those songs into us.
The walls in our house echo the lyrics of When Doves Cry and The Most Beautiful Girl in the World. The trees outside send out Holy River with their oxygen and we breathe it in. Buried in the ground is Gold and when we walk on it we can feel the beat and hear the melody. When the wind blows by our house, it brings with us the cool tunes of The Word. Our car makes the sounds of the Rave album and Controversy. And the beat of our heart is actually the beat of I Would Die 4 U. And Purple Rain is the sound of our souls.
So, Prince, I have just one last thing to say, from me, my parents, and the rest of the world:
Welcome to the Dawn.” (Selena Shifflett, ‘17)