Winnipeg-based singer-songwriter William Prince has more in common with his heroes Leonard Cohen and Kris Kristofferson than just a rich baritone voice: he has an authenticity and unpretentiousness that is downright disarming. His 2015 debut album Earthly Days boasts moving, warm instrumentation in which Prince’s stories and characters hold space. His recent Juno award for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year must surely be a source of pride for the community of Peguis First Nation, where the Oji-Cree Prince’s musical journey started under the guidance and support of his father, acclaimed gospel singer Ed Prince.
He absorbed his roots and country influences from his parents, falling asleep under the table at community dances where his parents DJ’d. Prince has always done things his way, and at his pace. It took him 10 years to produce his first album, but garnering a Juno is a thumbs-up for Prince's painstaking craftsmanship, who loves the model of working hard and perfecting your craft before showing it off. He struggled with his deep-pitched velvet voice as a youth, too, thinking it was not radio-worthy or contemporary enough, but again, his conviction in who he was triumphed over his worries, and now he happily carries the flag where Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves and his dad left off. His gospel/country/folk sound, shored up by that big voice, is a true mirror of the man that makes it: honest, real, sensitive and memorable.