I have been in a bit of a purple funk since Thursday April 21st. The untimely passing of the  musical genius Prince has left me numb and deeply reflective. Why was his life and death so meaningful for so many people? Why is it hard to find other artists to compare him to? Why does it seem that his death signifies the end of an era? I had these questions and so many more and after multiple conversations with numerous people, I have finally made sense of it all.

I am in my forties and Prince provided the soundtrack to my adolescence and young adulthood. As a member of the generation X, my generation experienced music videos and working parents and the combination of both meant time to explore music that was cutting edge. Prince caught our attention with the racy attire, hairstyles and creative music, but his music videos helped us to understand who he really was. He was someone who felt comfortable thinking and behaving outside of the box.

Back to my questions, why were his life and death so meaningful to so many people? I believe that this is because he was able to cross the genres of R&B, pop, funk and rock. It isn’t every day that an artist sings, plays the piano/keyboard, drums, saxophone and other instruments. It isn’t every day that an artist pushes the sexuality envelope in such a way that garners attention. It isn’t every day that artists develop into altruistic individuals with an overwhelming compassion for humanity. He let us know that he could make music without that music making him.

Why is it hard to find other artists to compare him to? Well, other than the many instruments that he played, you can’t easily point to artists who cross musical genres as he did. It isn’t easy to make music that appeals to individuals from varying backgrounds, but he was able to master that art. One of the other areas that captivated his fans was the simple fact that he was not overexposed. There were not pictures of Prince in every magazine and on every news station, we had to wait to get a glimpse of Prince! Which made us want it more. He felt that his life was private and over time his fans began to respect that.

Lastly, why does it seem that his death signifies the end of an era? Simply put……it does. My two sons will never know what it is like to watch artists march to the beat of  their own drums. Every new artist is such a copy of something that we have recently seen before. Most artists have no idea what true creativity means, they only do what they are told. Will we ever see true musical creativity again? I sure hope so, if not music will surely suffer a long, slow and painful demise.