2007 Vanity Fair Oscar Party

Prince in 2007, photo by prphotos

Birth Name: Prince Rogers Nelson

Date of Birth: June 7, 1958

Place of Birth: Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, United States

Date of Death: April 21, 2016

Place of Death: Chanhassen, Minnesota, U.S.

Ethnicity: African-American

Prince, also known as Ƭ̵̬̊, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, actor, and director. He is remembered for his amazing vocal range and ability to play multiple instruments proficiently. His songwriting is also highly acclaimed. He wrote some of the best hits for many other artists.

Prince was the son of Mattie Della (Shaw), a jazz singer, and John L. Nelson (John Lewis/Louis Nelson), a lyricist and pianist. His father performed with the jazz group the Prince Rogers Trio, under the stage name Prince Rogers. Prince was formerly married to actress and dancer Mayte Garcia. They had a son, Ahmir, who died a week after birth.

Prince’s parents were both black, as were all of his grandparents and great-grandparents. A picture of Prince’s father can be seen here. A picture of Prince’s mother can be seen here.

Genealogist Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, writing for The Huffington Post, traced Prince’s roots on both sides of his family. Among her findings are that six of Prince’s eight great-grandparents were born into slavery, and one of his great-grandmothers was possibly the daughter of her owner.

Early in his career, Prince stated that he had Italian ancestry, sometimes from his father, and sometimes from his mother. This is not accurate. In the autobiographical film Purple Rain, Prince’s character’s father is played by an African-American actor and Prince’s character’s mother is played by a Greek actress. This was not reflective of his real life heritage.

Prince’s paternal grandfather was Clarence Allen Nelson (the son of Edward Nelson and Emma Hardy). Clarence was born in Louisiana. Edward was the son of John Nelson.

Prince’s paternal grandmother was Carrie Jenkins (the daughter of Handy Jenkins and Dina/Lina Ann Phillips). Carrie was born in Louisiana. Dina was the daughter of Ashley Phillips and Martha.

Prince’s maternal grandfather was Frank/Franklin Shaw (the son of Preston Shaw and Eliza Britt/Brett). Frank was born in Louisiana.

Prince’s maternal grandmother was Lucille Bonnell (the daughter of Sam W. Bonnell and Katy/Kate F. Hale/Head). Lucille was born in Louisiana.

Sources: Genealogies of Prince –

Prince’s paternal grandfather, Clarence Allen Nelson, on the 1900 U.S. Census –

Prince’s paternal great-grandparents, Edward Nelson and Emma Hardy, on the 1880 U.S. Census –

Prince’s paternal grandmother, Carrie Jenkins, on the 1900 U.S. Census –

Prince’s maternal grandfather, Frank/Franklin Shaw, on the 1900 U.S. Census –

Prince’s maternal grandmother, Lucille Bonnell, on the 1900 U.S. Census –


Curious about ethnicity

246 Responses

  1. Multiethnicchick says:

    He’s clearly mixed. Anyone saying otherwise is either indenial or just a firm supporter of the racist one drop rule

    • SexyBlack 3434 says:

      Most African-Americans are mixed multi-generational because of slavery regardless of skin tone. Some look like our African ancestors and some look like masta. Study genetics and how it works. If it was not for the one-drop rule, there probably would not be many African-Americans here. He is not an exception, but the norm.

  2. andrew says:

    Edward Nelson listed as “mulatto” on 1880 U.S. Census

  3. savanna says:

    According to Geni:
    Prince’s great grandfather “Edward Nelson, was the son of a wealthy white slave owner and a freed Cherokee Slave. Denounced by his half-brothers for his marriage to a black woman, Nelson left Louisiana and traveled throughout Arkansas and Louisiana as a minister for the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church.”

    Prince’s great grandfather Sam Bonnell on the census

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