With Prince’s unexpected passing, communities around the world mourned the death of the historic rockstar, musician, icon, artist, and legend, Prince Roger Nelson. Looking back on the artist’s career, Dr. Darell Ezell, Director of Interfaith Action at Claremont Lincoln University and Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Religion, Culture and Foreign Affairs, reflects on what Prince symbolized and how he detailed his relationship with spirituality and religion in his songs.
In David Person’s new article, Dr. Darrell Ezell spoke on the icon’s influences and how he influenced the world, stating that Prince was influenced by his spirituality and religion throughout his career. Though the legend had numerous songs exploring the topics of sexuality, pop culture, daily life, he also had songs that spanned the topics of religion, spirituality, and even specific Christian themes. An excerpt from Person’s article quotes Dr. Ezell stating the following of what the artist came to personify:
“A lot of people thought that Prince personified party, that [he] personified celebration. But Prince was transformation.”
Dr. Darell Ezell also spoke on the musician’s struggle with his spirituality throughout the years, mentioning the artist’s writings that detailed how he struggled with combining the sacred and the secular.
Prince not only had religious and spiritual influences throughout his musical career, but he also let history, current events, and societal issues influence the content of his songs. In 1987, he spoke through the power of music on major issues taking place in the world; for example, in “Sign O’ the Times”, he sang about the perils of drug and gang violence. In one of his most recent songs, “Baltimore”, he sang about Freddy Gray and the topic of police brutality, Person points out.
Prince’s legacy will continue to live on as he has secured himself as one of music’s greatest, but as we reflect on his career, let us also reflect on the variety and complexity that he displayed in his music, including the significant influence his own spirituality had on his most well-known songs.
(h/t David Person)