Black Music Month: Prince

June is Black Music Month and WERS at Night will recognize black musicians, composers, singers, and songwriters who have made enormous contributions to the music industry. Today, June 24th, Secret Spot is highlighting Prince.

Singer and songwriter Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7, 1958. Prince was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His father (John Nelson) was also a musician and his mother was (Mattie Shaw) as well. In 1960, the family welcomed Prince’s little sister, Tika Evene. Both Prince and Evene developed an interest and passion for music. Prince wrote his first song “Funk Machine” when he was just seven years old. Unfortunely, when Prince was ten his parents decided to separate, causing Prince to go back and forth between homes. Eventually, Prince moved into a neighbor’s house, where the band Grand Central was created.

Grand Central’s members were Andre Anderson (also known as Andre Cymone), Charles Smith (Prince’s cousin), and Prince. After playing at local clubs, they decided to change the band name to Champagne and started to play music from different artists. In 1975, Prince’s cousin’s Husband created a band call 94 East and hired Prince to record with them. In 1976, Prince decided to create his own mix tape; with a mix up in being able to sign to a local record label Prince was later signed to Own Husney at the age of seventeen. When Prince was done recording his demo, multiple big industries were interested in him such as Warner Bros. Record’s, A&M Records, and Columbia. Prince eventually decided to settle with Warner Bros. He ended up moving to California where he then recorded and debuted his first album, For You. “Soft and Wet” reached #12 on the Hot Soul Singles chart and #92 on the Billboard Hot 100. In October of 1979, Prince released his very first album Prince, which reached topped charts and went platinum. Prince was ready to take over the music industry with his soulful touch. In 1980, his album Dirty Mind was released. It went gold and had many singles that topped charts but the album was said to have very explicit material.

The controversy did not stop Prince. From 1980 to 1981, Prince created The Time – a band that released four albums between 1981 and 1990. In 1982, Prince released his own album 1999, selling over three million copies. During the 1984 to 1987 era of Prince’s career – one of his successful times as an artist – he was still doing work in his own band. But in 1984, Prince released his album Purple Rain, selling more than thirteen million copies and ranking #1 on Billboard charts for 24 weeks. Prince also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for the movie Purple Rain.

In 1985, engaged to Susannah Melvoin, Prince said he would stop doing live performances and making music videos after releasing his next album Around the World in a Day. In 1996, Prince married his backup singer and dancer Mayte Garcia and welcomed son Boy Gregory on October 16, 1996, who was born with Pfeiffer Syndrome, a genetic disorder in which he passed a week after birth. Prince and Garcia eventually divorced in 1992. In 1994, Prince went through a phase where he had a poor attitude on his career and artistic value, causing him to try to sell a few albums with the label and eventually moving to Arista Records releasing Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic and promoting his album but doing numerous interviews on various stations.

Since the 2000s, Prince has made various appearances on award shows and TV stations. He has also come out with a few albums as well. Prince’s dedication and passion for music will never fade, and he will always be remembered as a musical genius all around the world.

By Nyla Wissa

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