religion :(RNS) When Prince died a year ago, he was called a game changer, an iconoclast, an innovator and a sex god by critics, fellow musicians, friends and fans.
But one word lost in the grief and shock was “Christian.”
Prince Rogers Nelson, whose 40 albums and 100 singles sold over 100 million records worldwide, was found dead from an overdose of painkillers in Paisley Park, his Minnesota mansion, on April 21, 2016. The 57-year-old singer, songwriter and musician created music that was as infused with his own deep faith as it was with sex.
Every song was either a prayer or foreplay,” said fashion critic Michaela Angela Davis. Either way, she added, his music made “you want to drop to your knees.”
Toure, a Prince biographer, wrote, “You can remember Prince as one of the most sexual artists of all time, and you would be right, but he was also one of the most important religious artists of all time.”
Now, amid the anniversary appreciations and concerts, Prince’s faith is gaining recognition as a driving force behind his music. In January, Yale University held a three-day conference on the music of Prince and David Bowie — who also died in 2016 — that included a panel on religion and spirituality in their work.
A handful of scholars and critics are also producing books that, in part, explore the influence of faith on the music of Prince.
One of those is Ben Greenman, whose “Dig If You Will the Picture: Funk, Sex, God and Genius in the Music of Prince” was released this month. He says that in a career that spanned almost four decades, Prince’s music was always concerned with religion — but what kind of religion depends on where in his career the record needle touches down.