MINNEAPOLIS — After the great musician’s death in 2016, a number of his projects were released posthumously, including a greatest hits album 4ever, an EP of six unreleased Prince recordings, titled Deliverance, and an expanded and remastered reissue of Purple Rain. But the most heavily anticipated project is Prince’s long-rumored bluegrass album The Beautiful One.
Though a little known fact, Prince had a deep and lifelong passion for bluegrass music. Among his estate was a vast collection of vinyl records, including Bill Monroe, The Foggy Mountain Boys, and Lester Flatt, so for those who really knew the legendary artist, this trove of records is no surprise.
The Beautiful One is composed of all the elements that traditionally characterize the genre, including sophisticated vocal harmony arrangements, breakneck tempos, and world-class instrumental proficiency on mandolin, fiddle, and banjo solos — and yet, Prince still managed to infuse the album with the very same transcendent genius that made him impossible to label as a genre artist, other than to simply say, he mastered all of them.
“It’s a surprising departure from what most people would expect from Prince, but that was his magic — the ability to reinvent himself over and over again, while at the same time remaining true to what he represented as an artist,” says famed music critic Ian Katz.
“Throughout his career, Prince never hesitated to embrace new technologies and electronic instruments, which is rare among musicians who are so proficient with traditional instruments. However, the thing that thrilled me the most about The Beautiful One is how it breathes new life into a genre that to many has not really evolved with the times and has been entirely overshadowed by the Nashville country scene,” added Katz.
The Beautiful One is perhaps the last treasure Prince left behind. Even beyond the grave, the enigmatic artist continues to leave clues about the man behind the music.