This year, October marks the 30th anniversary of Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls album release.
Prince Rogers Nelson, also known as “the artist formerly known as Prince,” or beforehand simply as Prince, is a legendary music artist that needs no introduction because he has truly helped shape American music and pop culture. He had musical talent from the start, but that is no surprise, considering his family background. His father, John Lewis Nelson, was a jazz musician; his mother, Mattie Della Shaw Baker, was a jazz singer.
Sadly, his parents divorced when Prince was only 7 years old. That tragic history must have left a hole in his heart because the number “7” is seen in his later works as an adult.
Despite his unfortunate family situation, he was very driven and determined to make a name for himself, and he did. This self-made musical sensation grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and he became a pop culture icon, beginning in the mid-1980s and unbelievably sustained a successful music career until his death.
Arguably, Prince’s most iconic album is Purple Rain. This was recorded with his band, The Revolution, and it has been ranked among some of the greatest albums of all time — and even won an Academy Award for the Best Original Song Score in the movie Purple Rain, starring none other than the one and only Prince.
In the 1990s, the New Power Generation (NPG) band recorded Diamonds and Pearls in Prince’s home studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a place he called Paisley Park. The songs in this album showcase his vocal range exceptionally well. For example, you can hear his incredible falsetto voice in the songs Push, Strollin’, Insatiable, and Willing & Able. His songs were certainly original yet relatable to his many fans. Money Don’t Matter 2night is one of those songs that strikes a chord with many people.
Unlike most artists, he didn’t stick to any particular genre; you can hear a classic 90s funky rhythm in songs like Daddy Pop, Walk Don’t Walk, and Gett Off. A smooth Rhythm & Blues beat comes out in the song Diamonds and Pearls, while there is a distinct rock influence in Live 4 Love. Hands down, Prince was probably one of the most versatile musical artists of our time, paying multiple instruments and genres.
And who can forget when Justin Timberlake paid tribute to Prince during the halftime show at Super Bowl LII? It was so fitting to play a soulful rendition of I Would Die 4 U in Prince’s hometown after his untimely death, a town he loved dearly. Even better, Minneapolis shined bright with Prince’s purple color. The overhead shot of the city revealed Prince’s symbol at the end of the touching tribute, one that won’t be forgotten for many years to come.
Speaking of Super Bowl halftime shows, Prince himself did an incredible performance at Super Bowl XLI in Florida several years prior. The morning of the game, there was pouring rain, which was a rarity for Super Bowl games in any year prior to 2007. This unexpected weather made the event producer somewhat nervous as he picked up the phone to tell Prince the bad news. Prince’s response was simply, “Can you make it rain harder?”
He was unfazed by the unfavorable weather and used this pouring rain to his advantage. Prince gave it everything he had and shocked the world with his showstopping performance. There was no better way to excite all the fans than by singing Purple Rain as his grand finale.
It was incredible, really, especially knowing that the stage was exceptionally slick from all that rain on that particular surface. He and his dancers were wearing tall heels, and neither Prince nor the backup dancers slipped and fell during any of the halftime show. The rest of his band members were also unfazed. It was a remarkable feat because everything became soaking wet, while they all gave the audience the most outstanding halftime show anyone could have asked for, and they did it with style. There is a life lesson to be learned from that event, I’m reminded time-and-time again when things don’t go “perfectly” as planned.
Prince’s legacy will forever live on in many of our hearts. He was an inspiring musician who faced life’s challenges full of hope and love for music. This talented performer was a shining example of what it means to be yourself and be proud of who you are, no matter what others think. May we all be more like Prince by showing love and support to those around us.
And just like Prince danced in the pouring rain, let us learn to embrace life’s challenges with our heads held high, even in heels while dancing on a slippery, glass-like surface called life, and remember what the great purple one taught us in his lyrics:
“Tell me, are we gonna let the elevator bring us down? / Oh, no let’s go! / Let’s go crazy / Let’s get nuts”