Prince had strong faith ties throughout his career
Posted April 24, 2016
Prince, famous for his multi-decade dominance of the rock and R&B genres, was found dead on Thursday at his Minnesota home. The music legend leaves behind hundreds of beloved songs, as well as a complex religious legacy.
"Across a career of more than 35 years, Prince released 39 albums and won seven Grammy Awards while being lauded not only for his songs, but their visual presentation both onstage and on camera," The New York Times reported in its obituary of the artist.
Prince didn't shy away from sexual lyrics or performances throughout his career, but he also routinely reflected on faith in his music.
"For every filthy song like 'Darling Nikki,' it seems, there is a track like 'The Cross,'" The Washington Post reported last year.
Prince famously became a Jehovah's Witness in 2001, but he began his musical career surrounded by Jews, as Forward reported in its 2014 piece, "The Secret Jewish History of Prince."
"Prince was no stranger to the Jewish part of town. When he originally put together his band the Revolution — the group that accompanied him on his breakthrough album and subsequent film, 'Purple Rain' — he made a conscious decision to have a multiracial outfit featuring both men and women," the article noted. His drummer, guitarist, backup vocalist and guest violinist were all Jewish.
When speaking about religion with the media, Prince described belief in God as a natural part of who he was.
"I don't see it really as a conversion," he told The New Yorker in 2008 when asked about becoming a Jehovah's Witness. "It's a realization."
As a Jehovah's Witness, Prince would sometimes go door-to-door to tell people about his faith and talk to them about theirs, the article noted.
"Sometimes people act surprised, but mostly they're really cool about it," Prince said.
In his final years, he spent more time in L.A., a move that he said was inspired by his desire to understand what makes other celebrities tick.
"It's all about religion. That's what unites people here," he told The New Yorker. "I wanted to sit down with them, to understand the way they see things, how they read Scripture."
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