By Kimberly Burley
As Prince is laid to rest and the world contemplates the legacy he left behind, I cannot help but think about what his legacy has personally meant to me.
Whenever my family went on a road-trip you could expect Prince’s Controversy album to be blasting through the speakers. Prince was a nonconformist and a revolutionary in his own right. Outside of the Kings, Malcolm’s, and Fannie Lou Hamer’s that have helped shaped my way of thinking, he was one of the first. The literal controversy in his music made me want to be revolutionary, different, and “other”. To be an outsider was safe with him, it was downright celebrated.
Even though Prince’s music had always been played in my household growing up, I didn’t really become a fan until I was in middle school. Being a second-generation Prince fan was not necessarily cool; that was music our parents listened to. I was already uncool, talked about, and teased so the day I finally convinced my mother to let me wear her Prince Concert shirt I wore it proudly. None of my peers understood nor did I expect them to.
One of my favorite Prince songs at the time was Controversy.
“People call me rude, I wish we all were nude. I wish there was no black and white. I wish there were no rules. Some people wanna die so they can be free. Life’s just a game. We’re all just the same.”
I remember singing those parts the loudest with all my heart. Each word deeply resonating with me. Even though I was so young I found truth in his words. Prince was singing about acceptance; acceptance of self and the acceptance of other. There is so much power in that one idea alone. Acceptance leads to freedom. A freedom from the rules and pressure of outwardly expectations.
Although I did not want to die I still yearned for the freedom that he was singing about.
At such an early age Prince gave me the power I needed to stop trying to fit in, to stop trying to be like everyone else and to stop trying to be accepted.
I could not find freedom until I accepted who I was. It was the power that I sorely needed during that time in my life.
Thankfully I have been able to carry this power throughout my life as I have strived to be my own person; someone that I can like and that I can accept. Now, at the age of 25 I only have one regret and that’s not having had the chance to see Prince in concert.
Prince I love you and you will be deeply missed. Thank you for helping me and so many others find their own truth and legitimacy. Prince thank you for living so boldly and so fearlessly. Thank you for leaving behind a timeless legacy that will continue to remind others to do the same. I pray you rest in eternal peace.
Kimberly Burley is a graduate from the University of Tennessee where she received her Bachelors of Science in Sports Journalism and Electronic Media with a concentration in American Studies. However, after enduring the pain it takes to earn any degree, she completely switched career path to pursue a different type of suffering, urban planning. Kimberly is currently living in Atlanta, waiting for her next adventure out of town. In her spare time she enjoys painting, photography, and writing to maintain her sanity.