Prince, the Ultimate Public Servant

Prince performing in 1983

Prince performing in 1983

Like so many of us, I was shocked and saddened to hear about Prince’s passing.  Not only was I a fan – but, I had hoped to interview him for my documentary, The Shamans of Rock & Roll.  Prince took us on a musical journey to other worlds – but, he was also the ultimate public servant.

After reading and watching all the interviews and comments from people who knew him well – the big takeaway for me was that he wanted to know what people were doing to change the world, to make the world a better place, and if they were using their platform for the good of others. That’s what mattered most to Prince.  He would often tell friends “whatever you are doing, level up!”[ref]Here’s a clip from the April 25, 2016 Dr. Drew Show on HLN with Shaun Robinson talking about this:[/ref]

Shamans journey into other worlds and use the information, energy, and power from these worlds to affect positive change. They don’t use this power for themselves, they use it for the benefit of others. They’re the ultimate public servant. And, so was Prince.

Prince took us on a musical journey to other worlds. . .spreading messages about spirituality, sexuality, and politics throughout his performances. His artistry came out of the great African American musical tradition – which included Little Richard, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, and Sly and the Family Stone.  These artists inspired him – but, he took it to a whole other level.

Prince was an activist, a social justice defender, and a philanthropist. He lead a revolution in artists’ rights, and even gave up his name during his battle with Warner Bros. just to make the point.

Because he didn’t advertise his contributions – and in many cases wanted to remain anonymous – we can only guess his true impact.  We do know that in recent years he had given money to the family of Trayvon Martin, supported school music and arts programs,[ref]Here’s one example of Prince donating to a school’s music and arts program:[/ref] organized the “Rally 4 Peace” concert in Baltimore and released the song “Baltimore” as an ode to ending police violence.  But, this was just the tip of the iceberg.

In the tradition of a true shaman, Prince was all about public service.  And, he wanted everyone to get involved.  Beyond his musical contributions, this may be his biggest legacy.  So, what is your ‘level up’?