Recently, we have seen the loss of many musical greats including Marion James, B.B. King, Maurice White, David Bowie, Phife Dawg, Lee Andrews, Clarence Reid and many other amazing talents.
We have recently added to that list another icon, legend and trailblazer. NMAAM is deeply saddened by the news of music and culture icon Prince’s death. He was one in which his music transformed a period of time when people were looking for a sense of unity, one who didn’t comply with cultural standards, one who forced people to listen to the depth of his music making them feel moved, almost uncomfortable. His music appealed across all cultures and genres, breaking musical and cultural barriers.
“Prince was a giant! Despite the many talented peers he had, it was His Royal Badness who made me pay attention to music – the words, depth and impact,” said H. Beecher Hicks III, NMAAM president/CEO. “Hanging on every word, note and principled stance he took, his talent was boundless, a genius whose genre-bending skill brought people together regardless of musical interest.”
Prince will be one of the pillars of NMAAM’s Thriller gallery upon our opening in 2018. This gallery dynamically illustrates the explosion of Black music beginning after WWII, through the MTV era, up to today. Prince’s sonic and visual legacy is a vivid illustration of the many ways Gospel, Blues and Jazz have been blended to create America’s Soundtrack.
On May 6, we will celebrate the My Music Matters: A Celebration of Legends Luncheon and honor music icons and trailblazers who helped create and shape America’s soundtrack through the influence of African American music.
2016 Legends Honoree Kenny Gamble recently spoke about His Royal Badness.
“He was one of those great talents that only come along now and then, once in a generation. Prince was a musician first. Michael Jackson was a singer and a dancer. But when you saw Prince, he had that guitar. He danced like James Brown with that guitar.”
The National Museum of African American Music mourns today, but we’ll celebrate his legacy forever.