SEATTLE — What continues to distinguish the late Prince, aside from his artistic genius, is his well-kept privacy surrounding his personal activities, including Prince’s legacy of tight-lipped charitable donations to humanitarian causes.
“He was a very private person,” remembers Sybrina Fulton, a recipient of the deceased musician’s charitable support after the unfortunate death of her son Trayvon Martin in 2012. “It is a shame we had to wait until his death in order to say something.”
Prince’s legacy of charitable donations came to light when the Grammy-decorated icon died unexpectedly in his Minnesota residency in April. The media has been having trouble tracking down a complete list of Prince’s charitable causes throughout the course of his decade-spanning career. However, despite his attempt at keeping contributions “hush,” entertainment trackers and musical critics are piecing together portions of his humanitarian record.
In 1985, Prince’s musical rival Michael Jackson released the philanthropic number “We Are the World” which became a global sensation. Prince initially requested to be a feature on the cut, but instead flew solo and decided to tackle world issues that needed to be addressed in his self-produced work – the funktastic LP “Sign o’ the Times.”
Distributed fresh off the hype of “Purple Rain,” Prince utilized his creative juices to zero in on the AIDS crisis with the “Sign” album’s title track. The profound opener, “A skinny [French] man died of a big disease with a little name,” was a part of the movement to convince medical professionals to study the little-known phenomenon.
When awareness tactics were coming up short, Prince would sponsor or assist in fundraising campaigns to stimulate stronger interest. His overlooked appearance at the 2004 Elton John AIDS Foundation helped raise over $1 million to produce direct care for global HIV/AIDS sufferers. Similar success was generated seven years later at the same event, where he helped raise an estimated $8 million.
Prince’s support for AIDS communities was not his only humanitarian activity. He also worked to eliminate educational hardships faced by struggling youth in the United States. According to the Minnesota Public Radio News, in 1993 Prince donated $200,000 for the Minneapolis-based Harvest Network of Schools to renovate a defunct nursing unit. Other improvements made from the generous charitable gesture refurbished the schools’ learning environment for its poverty-stricken 1,300 students.
The summer of 1996 also marked a grand charitable season for Prince, as the “Black Sweat” maestro used his nonprofit foundation Love 4 One Another to supply underprivileged mothers and children with affordable health care. Prince pushed the organization to “change the vibration of the world.”
Before its dissolution in the early 2000s, Love 4 One Another launched a webpage servicing downloadable music with the requirement of donating at least one dollar to help children in need. Other plans included the start of a 1997 Canada-U.S. touring series, and donating proceeds from his 1996 album “Emancipation.” By 2000, when the touring series concluded, Prince quietly donated $37,000 to Princeville, North Carolina, which suffered severe damage from Hurricane Floyd.
The last humanitarian gesture in Prince’s legacy was donating his services to the eco-friendly nonprofit Green for All, a reputable platform that simultaneously produced energy-saving employment positions while levying the underprivileged out of poverty.
“Listen 2 the words 4 a moment [sic],” wrote Prince in a 1997 digitized release statement for his Love 4 One Another foundation. “Imagine if each of us did what we could [to]create this reality… if each of us gave what we could [to]help one another, [be]it time, love, clothing or support, imagine how the world would change. [Together] we can make it happen.”
While the media continues to compile a complete charitable list, Prince’s legacy will continue to shine throughout time for his philanthropic humility and musical mastery.
– Jeff Varner