From ruminations on life and love’s little treasures to tales of everyday homegrown heroes, the music of William Prince unfurls like a classic campfire story, midnight road trip conversation, or well-worn, dog-eared novel passed down through generations. Each line delivered in his dusky baritone evokes a journeyman, troubadour spirit buoyed by stained glass soul with the gusto to reach steeple-size heights. Given this emotional heft, it makes sense that the art form bears a metaphysical significance for the Juno Award-winning singer and songwriter.
“To me, singing is like catching my breath,” he states. “The pace of everything around me slows down, and I’m able to be present in whatever moment I’m in. I like to capture that slow burn. It’s like a Woolly mammoth walking through deep snow. That’s the feel of my music. It might be a little cold, but it’s hopefully warm throughout. There’s a power in subtlety—which I try to capture.”
Born and raised on the Peguis First Nation of Manitoba, Canada, William has been honing his craft since the age of nine when he first picked up the guitar and piano. Counting Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Charley Pride, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson (as well as books like April Raintree and Fahrenheit 451) among chief influences, he ultimately cites his preacher and musician father as the biggest inspiration. “My whole life I listened to my dad’s deep voice singing gospel,” he goes on. “In a sense, I make folk-country tunes inside of a gospel framework. It can be really powerful, but it brings a calm.”
Forgoing medical school, he set about chasing a musical dream in 2014, balancing a radio station gig with constant writing and gigging around Canada. However, an extended 120-day stay in China would prove nothing short of revelatory…“I stepped away from working any other kind of job and moved to China with a good friend,” he recalls. “I was going through a lot of personal stuff. I needed to leave this side of the world and find out what I wanted again. I got to do some healing. Soon, I was playing six nights a week thousands of miles from home. I came back and felt better than ever mentally and in terms of my musicianship. I willed what happened like, ‘I’m going to find the right person and try this again.’”
Enter Scott Nolan. Striking a kinship with the producer, William found his creative soulmate. Working out of Nolan’s Song Shop Studio, he recorded his full-length debut, Earthly Days, in just ten days throughout 2015. Between tireless touring, the album caught fire in Canada. He garnered honors such as “Aboriginal Artist of the Year” at the 2016 Western Canadian Music Awards and “Contemporary Roots Album of the Year” at the 2017 Juno Awards. In a full circle moment, he even inducted Bruce Cockburn into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame and earned praise from not just Cockburn, but fellow inductee Neil Young.
In 2018 William will boldly take the next step of his journey with Earthly Days being released worldwide via his new record label, Glassnote Records, and publishing company, Insieme Music Publishing.
William’s debut single “Breathless” serves as the perfect introduction. The track’s delicate piano, rustling acoustic guitar, and William’s bottomless intonation resound as he shares snapshots of the first time hearing Elvis, sleeping under the Northern Lights, and sound of pouring rain. “It’s about things that don’t have comparison,” he explains. “These are all memories that took my breath away. I thought of growing up in Northern Canada and all of the moments I still cherish that left me speechless and breathless.”
Then, there’s “The Carny,” which spins the yarn of a lifelong pal who joined the carnival over lilting guitar. “‘The Carny’ is one of my best friends,” he explains. “He moved to the city and couldn’t get a job, so he became a carny. For months, he traveled around and setup rides, ran games, sold tickets, and prepared food. He did everything you do at a carnival. I didn’t think he’d last, because he wasn’t very handy as a kid—but he came back a different person. One of my best buddies gave me one of my favorite pieces of music!”
Elsewhere, the lullaby spirit of “Little Things” serves as an ode to his son’s mom and the bright future his little family has ahead. “I think you go hardest on those you love and trust the most, because they’ll accept you forever,” he admits. “When we fight, I miss those little things more than anything. Those are the best things to hold on to, so I wrote a song for them.” In the end, the stories comprising Earthly Days have the power to resonate for a long time to come.
“I hope the music moves you in some way,” he leaves off. “Maybe, you can connect to your grief or love in your life. I hope there’s joy in it. Music can be powerful and astounding in that regard. Whatever you take away, I hope it’s authentic to you. My focus is on growth. I want to write and create moments in time with my albums and words. I’m thankful I get to do that.”