Minnesota's congressional delegation on Monday is introducing a resolution to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to pop superstar Prince, citing his "indelible mark on Minnesota and American culture," The Associated Press has learned.
The medal is one of the nation's highest civilian honors and past recipients include George Washington, the Wright Brothers, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, the Navajo Code Talkers, the Tuskegee Airmen and the Dalai Lama.
"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," said Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who represents the state, in a statement.
Prince, whose hits include "Little Red Corvette," "Let's Go Crazy" and "When Doves Cry," died April 21, 2016, of an accidental fentanyl overdose at age 57 at his Paisley Park estate in Chanhassen, Minn.
The resolution for Prince is led by Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat who represents Minneapolis in the House. The full Minnesota delegation serves as original co-sponsors, including Sen. Tina Smith and Reps. Jim Hagedorn, Angie Craig, Dean Phillips, Betty McCollum, Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach, Pete Stauber and Omar.
"Prince is a Minnesota icon," said Omar in a statement. "He showed that it was OK to be a short, Black kid from Minneapolis and still change the world. He not only changed the arc of music history; he put Minneapolis on the map."
The legislation notes that Prince is "widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of his generation," with seven Grammy Awards, six American Music Awards, an Oscar for the score to "Purple Rain" and a Golden Globe.
It adds that he is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, sold more than 150 million records worldwide and that "Purple Rain" was added by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry. The bill also puts into the Congressional record the glyph he used instead of his name for a time that Prince called "The Love Symbol."
Under the rules, 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. The Prince legislation will be introduced in the House and Senate.
Born Prince Rogers Nelson, the singer, songwriter, arranger and instrumentalist broke through in the late 1970s with the hits "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?" and "I Wanna Be Your Lover," and soared over the following decade with such albums as "1999" and "Purple Rain." Among his other notable releases: "Sign O' the Times," "Graffiti Bridge" and "The Black Album."
If the gold medal is approved and made, 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 on loan.
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