When John Prine passed away in 2020, the world lost more than just a great musician. For many, Prine is an inspiration. However, he didn’t only lead the way musically. He also showed the world just how far you could go by staying true to your own artistic vision. His independent spirit is at the very heart of all that was great about his creative output. As a result, he left behind so much more than just decades of stellar songs and an independent record label. Prine left behind a legacy. Today, his widow Fiona and their son Jody Whalen are working hard to keep that legacy alive.
Recently, Fiona and Jody spoke with Billboard about what they’re doing to keep John Prine’s legacy and his label, Oh Boy Records, alive. Fans of Prine will see their hard work manifested in many of the tribute efforts they’ve made over the past year. They planned a series of concerts to celebrate Prine’s life and legacy. Additionally, a tribute album and box set are on the way. The album Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows comes out later this month.
Keeping John Prine’s label and legacy alive is a daunting task. However, Fiona sees it as a blessing. “We had an enormous loss,” she told Billboard. “But the gift is commensurate with the loss. What he left for us is a huge responsibility, and we take it very seriously.”
The Core of John Prine’s Legacy
Fiona Prine also spoke about the core of John Prine’s legacy: his songs. “They’re at the core of his legacy, who he was as a man, who he still is as an artist, what he can still teach us and how he can comfort us with his words.” They’re doing all they can to make sure his songs reach as many people as possible. In fact, they’ve fielded several requests from movies and television shows to use Prine’s songs. This lets them know, as Fiona put it, “The world is still hungry,” for Prine’s art.
Staying True to Prine’s Vision
Fiona Prine is the president of Oh Boy. However, Jody Whalen handles the day-to-day operations at the label. For him, keeping his father’s legacy alive means staying true to his vision for Oh Boy. John Prine founded the label with a goal in mind. He wanted to work with songwriters and singer-songwriters to get their music in front of the listeners who would love it. They’re still doing that. “Prine’s catalog and legacy will never not be the central piece, but I do think that the forward he showed us is supporting performing songwriters.”
You can do get involved in keeping Prine’s legacy alive as well. It’s simple. Just listen to and share his music.