Sound Stories. Sound Voices.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You are on the KUOW archive site. Click here to go to our current site.

RIP Prince. You gave 'black weirdos a sense of freedom'

Rock singer Prince performs at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., during his opening show, Feb. 18, 1985.

Prince Rogers Nelson, the artist known just by his first name, has died. He was 57.

“I am still in shock,” writer Ijeoma Oluo told KUOW’s Bill Radke. “I'm probably going to continue to go deeper into heartbreak as the day goes on. It's not something that I think was possible. I don't think that a lot of people thought Prince would ever die and certainly not this soon. The man is magic.”

Listen to 24 hours of Prince's entire music catalogue streaming from The Current, Minnesota Public Radio, starting 4/22 at 4 p.m.

What Prince has meant to music lovers – to black people around the country and the world – is unbelievable, Oluo said.

“Prince has always been unapologetically himself,” she said. “He never let anyone define his blackness either. There is so much pressure on celebrities, especially celebrities of color, to fit into a certain stereotype and to act a certain way so that white audiences and mainstream audiences are more comfortable with how they look.”

But Prince was a “flamboyant, hypersexual, incredibly multi-talented artist who would wear pants with the butt cut out because he could” and he never had to apologize for it, she said.  

“He gave what we like to call ‘black weirdos’ a sense of freedom that we really hadn't had before,” Oluo said.

[asset-audio[{"description": "Ross Reynolds interviews DJ Kevin Cole about Prince.", "fid": "125761", "uri": "npraudio://201604/kevincoleprince_0.mp3"}]][asset-audio[{"description": "Ross Reynolds talks to KEXP DJ Kevin Cole about the moment Prince first displayed the qualities that made him a superstar.", "fid": "125896", "uri": "public://201604/NEWS_20160421_kevincoleprince.mp3"}]][asset-images[{"caption": "Singing Star Prince is all smiles as he addresses the audience at the American Music Awards Monday evening, Jan. 27, 1986 in Los Angeles. ", "fid": "125751", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201604/prince2.jpg", "attribution": "Credit AP Photo/Nick Ut"}]]

[asset-images[{"caption": "Boxing great Muhammad Ali, right, pats the head of the Artist Formerly Known as Prince during a meeting in Washington Tuesday, June 24, 1997 prior to a news conference where they were to announce plans for a benefit concert in October. The World Healing Honors will be a grand benefit concert to promote international harmony and tolerance. ", "fid": "125752", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201604/prince4.jpg", "attribution": "Credit AP Photo/Karin Cooper/Rogers & Cowan"}]]