The Voice coaches know talent when they hear it, and all four superstars on the season 10 panel — Pharrell, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton — were huge fans of pop icon Prince, who was found dead Thursday (April 21) at his Minnesota home.
Also on Thursday, the Voice coaches gathered in Hollywood for a karaoke charity event benefiting Children’s Hospital L.A. When Billboard caught up with the quartet on the red carpet outside Hyde Sunset, we had to ask about the day’s tragic news.
“His death represents a big hole in the ether right now, especially the musical ether,” Pharrell said. “But his music, his message, his movement — it was just super powerful. His physical presence will definitely be missed. The essence of him survives along with the body of his work, the memories we all have of him, and the incredible impact and impression that he’s made with his songs.”
Levine has been a vocal Prince fan for years, even getting to spend time with the often-elusive superstar and covering his “Purple Rain” at Howard Stern’s birthday concert last year.
“He influenced more than just music for me,” the Maroon 5 frontman said. “He was such a fearless guy who would always follow his own path. And I think it’s a really rare thing, more and more these days, very rare for someone to do that. He stood for so much, as far as creative freedom. There’s too much to say and it’s all very overwhelming, and I’m still kind of in shock. But I’m gonna miss him. And I wish now that I was able to spend some more time with him while he was here.”
Aguilera was especially impressed with Prince as a businessman and the way he stood up to Warner Bros. during contract disputes in the 1990s.
“It wasn’t just the music; it was his authenticity and his genuine passion that he had for music and for keeping it real and authentic that I was truly in awe of,” she said. “Even his battles and arguments with labels … [he] was truly sticking up for music and the artist, and I think that is something that will truly continue to inspire me and really spoke to me above everything else — aside from the timeless music that could be a hit today, in any generation really. It’s just classic. Legend.”
Shelton told Billboard that while his music might not be clearly inspired by Prince’s, he still considers himself a fan. “No matter what you do or who you are or what you listen to, there’s at least two Prince songs that you love,” he said. “He’s just such an icon. And we all have heard Prince stories and just see the man and the crazy thing around him that’s just this larger-than-life aura that he had. And the fact that he’s gone, it’s truly hard to wrap your head around.
“It’s like a superhero died,” he added. “It literally feels that way. It’s like there’s been an attack on some city and the whole world is like, ‘How could this happen?’ … It’s just not right.”
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
–With reporting by Morgan Greenwald