Thierry Ehrmann/Creative Commons

Since Prince passed away on April 21st, there has been no end of discussion about him. We’ve listened to numerous conversations about him, read numerous articles about his life and his music, and learned a great deal we hadn’t known about him. One aspect of Prince’s life, you probably haven’t heard, though, is that he was gifted – and not simply in the sense of being a gifted musician. If you are familiar with gifted traits and know some lesser-known details about Prince, you will recognize immediately that he was a gifted individual, a grown-up gifted kid.

Music Prodigy

The first of Prince’s gifted trait you would recognize is his exceptional talent in the music domain. But the extent of that talent isn’t always recognized. Like many gifted musicians, Prince was a musical prodigy, learning music at a very early age and composing his first song when he was just seven years old. Because he came from a musical family, we might expect Prince to be a gifted musician. After all, music had to be a part of his family life.

However, although Prince’s father was a musician with his own band, he didn’t seem to have encouraged music in his son. In fact, Prince once said in a rare interview that he was not allowed to touch the piano at home because his father didn’t think he was a good enough player. Prince had taught himself to play the piano – and the drums – and the guitar – all before he was around eleven years old.

Perfectionist

Prince wasn’t content to play the piano, the drums, and the guitar. He learned to play numerous different instruments, all before he was twenty years old. When he recorded his first album, For You, at age 19, he played all 27 instruments on it. The cost of recording that album is reported to have been two times what Prince was paid in advance for it.

His work had to be perfect and he worked hard to make it that way. Once he hired a crane to lift a grand piano and brought in through a window when there was no other way for it to get to a room so that he could practice on it before a performance.

When he changed his name to the unpronounceable Love Symbol #2, it was in an attempt to keep artistic control of his name and his music. It was a creative solution to a problem than many musicians face, and it worked. When his contract was up, Prince took back his name and kept artistic control.  (You know creativity is a common trait among the gifted, right?)

Obsessive

Prince was obsessed with music. It was extremely important to him, not the fame, not the fortune that came from his talent, but the music itself. He wanted to play it. He wanted to write it. You might know that Prince was a prolific music composer, writing over 1000 songs. But what you might not know is that he would often write songs for others, without taking any credit.

If you were to look at the credits on another artist’s album that included a song he wrote for them, you wouldn’t see Prince’s name. You’d see Chris, Jamie Starr, Joey Coco or Alexander Nevermind. Some of the songs he wrote for others helped him them become famous. It didn’t matter to Prince that no one knew he composed the songs. It was all about the music.

When Prince was recording in his studio, he would often go without sleep for days, so not only was he obsessed with music, but like many gifted individuals, he could do with less sleep than others.

Introverted

Not all gifted people are introverted, but many of them are. Prince was known as a very private person, and had no need to surround himself with an entourage at all times. He could be happy spending time by himself in Paisley Park, his home. While he often held concerts at his home, he also lived a simple life, riding his bike around town, and knocking on doors like any other Jehova’s Witness (yes, he was one, and yes, he did that).

Unique and Transcendent

Prince was often a mystery to his fans. He rarely gave interviews and even more rarely spoke about his private life. So people tried to figure out just who he was. For a while, some people questioned his sexuality. What was up with that eyeliner? Was he gay? Few people knew, or know even today, about his marriage in 1996 to Mayte Garcia. (They were later divorced).

It seemed that Prince was neither male nor female, but some of both. It’s not uncommon for the gifted to be “beyond gender.” That is, they often don’t seem to quite fit completely in either gender. In the same way, Prince didn’t seem to belong in any race, other than the human race.  You watched him sing and play music and you didn’t see a black man. You didn’t see a white man either. You just saw Prince.

Much more could be said about Prince and his giftedness, but it should be clear that Prince was essentially a grown-up gifted kid. While many gifted people struggle to fit in somewhere, Prince was different. Prince was music – and music fits everywhere.

Sources:

Carol BainbridgeAbout GiftednessGifted Profiles
Since Prince passed away on April 21st, there has been no end of discussion about him. We've listened to numerous conversations about him, read numerous articles about his life and his music, and learned a great deal we hadn't known about him. One aspect of Prince's life, you probably...