Happy Birthday, Prince
I know that as a Jehovah’s Witness you probably no longer celebrate birthdays, but I hope you don’t mind if your fans, of which I am certainly one, celebrate for and with you on your 54th birthday. I’m sure it must be difficult to walk around when you have people falling out and crying and wanting to take pictures with you and sign autographs or confess their undying love (or lust) for you), but I hope you’ve gotten used to it by now. After all, you’ve had about 34 years of being one of the world’s most prominent musical geniuses, so I’m sure you accepted it as your fate by now. You have to understand that we mere mortals have no idea what it must be like to receive such an enormous gift.
You were clearly born to make music. The amount of music flowing through your spirit every day must be something extraordinary. You’ve made 32 albums (or so) that have been released, and it’s rumored that in your famous vault there are thousands more. We, your fans, truly appreciate the music that you have released and allowed us to hear. We are grateful that you accepted this gift from God and that you have used that gift to the best of your ability. You have to understand, Prince, that we are losing musical geniuses every day. Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Heavy D, Amy Winehouse and Teena Marie were just a few musicians particularly special to the black community that we’ve lost in the past few years. All of them were too young and it really hurt. That’s why when we see you and Patti Labelle and Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight and Chaka Khan, we don’t know how to act. We just want to make sure that all of you understand the enormous contribution that you’ve made to our lives.
But even in that esteemed group, you, Prince, you are special. You have such a huge body of work and have been so influential. We know that folks like James Brown influenced you and Michael Jackson, but let’s face it, half of these young artists, writers and producers out here today owe you a huge debt. Half of them have acknowledged the towering influence that you’ve had over their careers be they hip-hop, R&B or pop artists. The other half are just too dumb to know how much your work impacted theirs.
You’ve been great at supporting folks like Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Beyonce, dancer Misty Copeland and others, although we guess you and Ginuwine didn’t quite see eye to eye when he recorded “When Doves Cry.” (We hope you and D’Angelo are on better terms, as he’s covered your music and his song “Untitled” is a tribute to you.) We figure that’s the reason why we have yet to see an all-star tribute to you on BET or MTV or VH1. We realize that the show would have to be five hours long and there would be so many artists fighting over what songs to sing and how to truly celebrate you that it will probably just never happen.
We just wanted you to know that while we really wish you would head back out on tour soon, we can appreciate that you only work when the mood hits you and that maybe the years of dancing in heels and playing all those instruments and singing and touring the world has taken its toll. But when it comes to you, Prince, we are selfish and we hope that that muse strikes you again soon and forces you to spend another 20 days performing shows at one venue, maybe somewhere close to us so we can once again show you our love. I mean, who else can draw an audience of Black, white, Puerto Rican, everybody, just freakin’ time and time again? Most concerts are as segregated as a black church on Sundays but not your concerts, no. At your shows, you will literally see generations of Prince fans of all colors, creeds, ages, races, sexual preferences and lifestyles. We are sorry if we’re too demanding of your time, brother, but we need you.
The world is an often confusing and dangerous place but your music and your performances make it seem a little better. Partying with people from all walks of life at your shows and your aftershows makes us hope, just for a little while, that the kind of unity we see in the arenas where we come to see you in droves is possible in real life. Hearing you play the guitar with the passion and the skill that you do touches something in our souls and makes us leave feeling like we’ve just had a religious experience. You inspire us, Prince, in a way that some of these musicians out here now just don’t know how to do. We know your personal convictions don’t allow you to play all of our sexier favorites anymore – but we don’t care because there are so many others to choose from.
Prince, we are just glad that on this 54th anniversary of your birth, that you are still here, looking good and healthy and occasionally showing up on “The Tavis Smiley Show” or at the BET Awards, or maybe sitting in with some other legend and performing. I’m sure given the kinds of reactions you get at those shows that you recognize the love we have for you. But in case you don’t know, as a wise man once wrote “If God one day struck me blind, your beauty I’d still see/Love’s too weak to define just what you mean to me.” We truly adore you Prince. Have a beautiful birthday.
By Tonya Pendleton