Canadian country-folk singer/songwriter William Prince rose to national attention in 2015 thanks to the grassroots success of his critically acclaimed debut album Earthly Days. A member of the Peguis First Nation near Winnipeg, Manitoba, Prince is also a part-time member of the indigenous rock group Indian City, with whom he recorded and performed prior to his solo success.
Born in Selkirk, Manitoba, and raised on the Peguis First Nation, Prince counts Chief Peguis as a direct ancestor. His father was a preacher and a musician, and many of Prince’s first musical experiences are rooted in playing alongside his father in church. A music lover with diverse tastes, his adolescent years were spent playing in various rock bands, even going through a screamo phase before settling into his role as an acoustic singer/songwriter. Taking influence from country icons like Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, Prince eventually left his pre-med courses in Winnipeg and devoted himself to writing songs and gigging. In the ten years leading up to his debut, he made a handful of attempts at recording, though nothing ever panned out. Along the way he took part in the collaborative First Nations rock group Indian City, fronted by Vince Fontaine, and kept writing his own songs.
In 2015, with the help of producer Scott Nolan, Prince finally recorded his debut album, Earthly Days, in an intensive ten-day session. Framing his relaxed baritone in a warmly captured, organic country-folk framework, the independently released album took on a life of its own, earning Prince two Juno Award nominations, a pair of Canadian Folk Music Award nominations, and an Aboriginal Artist of the Year award at the Western Canadian Music Awards. He even earned the admiration of Canadian songwriting greats Neil Young and Bruce Cockburn after performing Cockburn’s song, “Stolen Land,” at the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2017. A deal with Glassnote Records allowed for a 2018 reissue of Earthly Days, which included an alternate version of his song “Breathless,” re-recorded in Nashville with producer Dave Cobb. The deal with Glassnote also produced a sophomore effort for Prince: entitled Reliever, the Canadian musician’s second set took a therapeutic approach to the genre, self-described as a “testament to resilience.” Previewed with singles “The Spark” and “Always Have What We Had,” the full-length saw release in January 2020. ~ Timothy Monger