Prince dies at age 57

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    Erotic, enigmatic, enterprising, and finally an elder statesmen of soul, rock and funk: Prince Rogers Nelson, the iconic singer, songwriter, musician, producer and cultural icon, has died. He was 57 years old. 

    It would be an understatement to simply classify Prince as an entertainer; ever since his eponymous 1978 debut, the Minneapolis, Minnesota native expanded the boundaries of what was considered soul music,, blending his elements of hard funk, freestyle punk and unabashedly urban rhythms into a sultry and sexualized stage persona that was often duplicated, but never mastered quite like The Purple One (see Mark Ronson's and Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk" as an example). 

    Erotic, enigmatic, enterprising, and finally an elder statesmen of soul, rock and funk: Prince Rogers Nelson, the iconic singer, songwriter, musician, producer and cultural icon, has died. He was 57 years old. 

    It would be an understatement to simply classify Prince as an entertainer; ever since his eponymous 1978 debut, the Minneapolis, Minnesota native expanded the boundaries of what was considered soul music,, blending his elements of hard funk, freestyle punk and unabashedly urban rhythms into a sultry and sexualized stage persona that was often duplicated, but never mastered quite like The Purple One (see Mark Ronson's and Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk" as an example). 

    Before the release of his best-known behemoth of an album/movie/Academy Award winner, Purple Rain, Prince amassed an enviable body of work that encompassed his own shining gems ("Controversy," "Little Red Corvette," "I Wanna Be Your Lover" and countless other well-beloved jams) and the mentoring musicianship that he applied to some of the most enduring talents in music history, including his own band, The Revolution, Morris Day and The Time, Sheila E., the late Vanity (Denise Matthews), and prolific producers and former Revolution band members-turned-megaproducers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who just recently praised their former boss for his visionary methods and insistence on melody and organic approaches to warm up computerized and synthesized track work.

    For nearly 20 years since his debut, no artist was more prolific or as consistently popular as Prince. Known for many romantic liaisons yet notoriously private off-stage, Prince released dozens of albums, worked with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Mint Condition and Janelle Monae, to name a few, and toured constantly-----his last performance was in Atlanta last week before falling ill----but always remained outspoken about the shadiness of the music industry (remember the 'slave' inscription he wore on his face after warring with his record label over ownership of his work and his yanking of videos off of youtube?) as well as the importance of independence and profit to musicians and respect for their individuality and art.

    With this recognizable falsetto and tenor vocalist now silenced, all we stunned fans can do is spin our CDs, dust off the vinyl and album covers and hope that his upcoming memoir, The Beautiful Ones (slated for release next year), can give us more a glimpse into his carefully-guarded life and how he arrived at such an incredible and awe-inspiring level of genius. He will be terribly missed.

    By Melody Charles

    And click here to read Howard Dukes' reflection on the night Prince came to Michael Jackson's hometown

     
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