Prince Rogers Nelson, The Kid, The Artist, Prince. He was simply a once-in-a-lifetime artist. His unfortunate accidental death in 2016 left a void in the musical world. Like Bowie and Michael Jackson, he was a unicorn, a musical icon unlike anyone else. He changed the soundtrack of life.

Logically, Prince would have inherited some musical talent. Born to a jazz singer, his mother Mattie Della, and a pianist and songwriter, his father John Lewis Nelson, Prince began playing music at 7-years old. Quickly it became apparent that he was unique, and he wasn't merely a singer or guitarist or songwriter. Prince literally could do it all. He was a virtuoso, a musical polyglot. Seamlessly fluent in any instrument he put his mind to, he could dissect it and then reach heights with it that shocked his audiences.

At 20-years old, he released his first album, "For You." Prince is credited with performing every instrument on it, all vocals, and all songwriting. The credits go on to list 27 instruments, including moogs, piano, and various percussion and strings. He would release 39 studio albums, 103 singles, dozens of compilations, live albums, etc. He also made 152 music videos AND penned songs for several other artists, including; Cyndi Lauper, Patti LaBelle, Paula Abdul, Kate Bush, Ani Difranco, NoDoubt, Stevie Wonder, Janelle Monáe, and others.

His musical style was unlike anything people were accustomed to hearing; his shows just as awe-inducing. He took inspiration from everywhere and everyone. Prince would weave elements of funk, R&B, Latin, country, rock, new wave, classical, soul, synth-pop, psychedelia, pop, jazz, industrial, and hip hop into his work —creating something special and otherworldly. He is considered one of his generation's greatest musicians by critics, peers, and fans worldwide.

Below is one of our favorite interviews from 1999. Airing shortly after Prince had changed his name to a symbol, he and the late Larry King discuss his career, the name change, and more:

Prince may have been soft-spoken and mysterious, but his fashion sense was NOT shy. Check out some of his most iconic looks in this spread by Harpers Bazaar.

Prince appeared in five musical films during his career. Throughout his career, Prince historically refused guest appearance requests, except in a few select cases. When Muppets Tonight approached him, he surprisingly agreed, appearing on Sept. 13, 1997. It gives you a small glimpse into his silly side, we hope you enjoy it:

His next guest appearance was one he initiated himself in 2014. Prince was a fan of the television show 'New Girl' and decided that he'd like to appear on it. He had his manager call Zooey Deschanel, letting her know, which surprised her because she'd never considered Prince would be a fan of the show. His cameo once again demonstrated his signature deadpan sense of humor. We particularly like the credits, where we get to see him playing ping pong with one of the cast members.

"I’ve grown up, everyone’s got to grow up. But there’s something inside me, I’m always going to have that little sort of – how do you say? – child streak."

Prince was known for his incredibly quirky sense of humor and his love of ping pong. Shortly after Prince passed away, Jimmy Fallon and Questlove told some stories of their times with Prince. The funniest one — a late-night Ping Pong challenge that had Fallon ditching his friends at dinner to race across NYC to meet Prince because he wanted to play against him. Watch the video below:

He'd toured 29 times during his four-decade-long career - a tour nearly every year and virtually non-stop from 1979 until 2016. His performances were quite physical — he'd been an athlete, having played football, basketball, and baseball in junior and senior high school. He'd also trained in classical ballet.

His live show choreography frequently included acrobatics while wearing boots with 5" heels. While this was breathtaking to witness, his onstage athleticism took its toll on Prince's body, particularly his hips and knees. By the mid-1990s, those injuries had turned into chronic pain, something he'd been actively trying to manage at the time of his accidental death.

In the early 1980's Prince was one of the few Black artists to receive heavy rotation at MTV, something David Bowie had famously taken MTV to task over. Prince sold over 150 million records worldwide, ranking him among the best-selling music artists of all time. Below are some of the recognitions he received:


Rock and Roll Hall of Fame —2004
UK Music Hall of Fame — 2006
Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame — 2016


President's Merit Awards — 28th Grammy Awards 1986
American Music Award for Achievement — American Music Awards 1990
American Music Award of Merit — American Music Awards 1995
Billboard Icon Award — Billboard Music Awards 2013


Doctor of Humane Letters — University of Minnesota 2016 (posthumously)


He won 7 Grammy Awards, 7 Brit Awards, 6 American Music Awards, 4 MTV Video Music Awards, an Academy Award (for Best Original Song Score for the film Purple Rain), and a Golden Globe Award.

Two of his albums, Purple Rain (1984) and Sign o' the Times (1987), received the Grammy Award for Album of the Year nominations.
The albums 1999, Purple Rain, and Sign o' the Times have all been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

The film Purple Rain was preserved in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant," by the Library of Congress in 2019.

Shortly before he died in 2016, Prince had said that he was working on a memoir. Fortunately, his co-writer had been able to compile enough interviews before his passing to complete the project. Released in October 2019, The Beautiful Ones became a #1 New York Times Bestseller. At the time of his death, his home in Minneapolis contained a vault of unreleased material, including dozens of fully produced albums and over 50 music videos. While it is ultimately up to his estate, perhaps we haven't heard the last of Prince Rogers Nelson just yet.

His voice could be everything; his singing style, of course, was so different from his speaking voice. His regular voice had the loveliest characteristics. Prince's vocal style had this soft gentleness that drew you in. Almost hypnotic, but not monotone at all. Expressive, with depth and emotion, yet very calm and confident and measured. Listening to him speak was engrossing — you would get lost in it.

I would have loved to have been able to have Prince narrating my life for me, especially on those days when anxiety levels are high. Imagine on those days, being able to change all the digital voices in your life — your car, smart speakers, apps, everything, to a voice with similar characteristics as Prince. People would be so much happier!

Unfortunately, we can't change all the digital voices in our lives to match our mood ... yet. Additionally, voice styles such as Prince's haven't been represented in the digital voices dominating the markets. But, imagine if the world of digital voice matched the world of human voice. If it was as dynamic and expressive? More representative? More personalized?!

Guess what; digital voice can be truly representative — learn more about AI-Voice.


Cocoa voices are defined as Soft, Deep, Modal, and Oral. Learn more about the unique characteristics that make up our voices and voice types here: VOCALiD Voice Types.

This is the twenty second in our Iconic Black Voices series and a special edition in honor of Presidents Day. Make sure to come back to our blog every day this month as we highlight more iconic Black voices in celebration of Black History Month.

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