Minnesota’s Congressional delegation wants to honor late music icon Prince with one of the country’s highest civilian awards.
Led by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Ilhan Omar, the bill honors Prince for his “legacy of musical achievement and…indelible mark on Minnesota and American culture.”
“Like so many, I grew up with Prince’s music. I was always proud to say he was from Minnesota,” said Klobuchar in an online statement. “The world is a whole lot cooler because Prince was in it— he touched our hearts, opened our minds, and made us want to dance. With this legislation, we honor his memory and contributions as a composer, performer, and music innovator. Purple reigns in Minnesota today and every day because of him.”
The Congressional Gold Medal is presented by the U.S. Congress. Only 163 people have been awarded the medal since 1776, including George Washington, Gen. Colin Powell, Rosa Parks, Navajo Code Talkers, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the Little Rock Nine.
The famed musician, whose real name was Prince Rogers Nelson, died in 2016 at the age of 57 from an accidental overdose at his Paisley Park estate in Chanhassen, Minnesota. He left behind a prolific musical legacy that spanned nearly four decades.
Prince was a musical prodigy who released 39 studio albums, played 27 instruments, and sold more than 150 million records worldwide, making him among the bestselling musicians of all time. He won seven Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, and a Golden Globe among. In 2004, Prince was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The pop superstar also won an Oscar for best original song score for the movie Purple Rain. In 2019, that movie was added by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
“I remember when I first came to America being captivated by Prince’s music and impact on the culture. He showed that it was okay to be a short, Black kid from Minneapolis and still change the world,” Rep. Omar in a statement. “He not only changed the arc of music history; he put Minneapolis on the map.”
Congressional Gold Medals require the support of at least two-thirds of the members of both the Senate and House of Representatives before they can be signed into law by the president. If the gold medal is approved, the bill asks that it be given to the Smithsonian Institution, which should make it available for display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture or for loan at other locations associated with the life of Prince.