Why Prince is the most important religious musician. Ever.

According to writer Touré, Prince was the single most important religious musician who ever lived.
Prince performs during the halftime show at Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium in Miami in 2007. ( Associated Press/Alex Brandon)

Please note: due to music licensing agreements, we have geo-fenced this episode. If you're outside Canada, you can hear this week's conversations on our podcast

You get the feeling, looking at his lyrics now, that Prince Rogers Nelson was pumped about the afterlife:

If his belief in God was rewarded, maybe Prince is finding out that he was right: something really does come after this earthly life - and it is sweet. (Any further speculation is above our pay-grade here at CBC Radio.)

When Prince died, on April 21, the immediate coverage centred on shock (how could he be gone?), speculation (were painkillers to blame?) and a deep well of sadness and anger (nothing about this is okay.).

Now that several months have elapsed, it's possible to stand back, take a breath, maybe wipe away a tear, and go a little deeper into why Prince was so important, especially in the realm of his three holy urges: music, sex, and spirituality.   

And they must be considered together, argues the eloquent writer and critic Touré, because, to Prince, they were inseparable. All were extravagant gifts divinely bestowed, given to the human being by the creator.

Touré, who once gave a series of lectures about Prince at Harvard University, paints an indelible picture of the famous Jehovah's Witness: Prince is the lust-filled guy who shows up at your door, promises to talk dirty to you, commands your full attention - and then pulls out his Bible.

"Prince looked at lust as something given from God. That too came from God, so that too must be a holy urge."

Touré adds that, beyond embodying the idea of God-given sex and divinely-inspired musical genius, Prince stands alone as the single most important religious musician. Ever.

He notes that, unlike a gospel singer, who (literally) preaches to the choir, Prince was a little more stealthy, "whispering in the ear of so many people."

Was Prince's religious fervour transmitted to his fans? It's unknowable but inevitable, Touré believes, wondering aloud at how many people Prince must have turned on to the ideas of heaven and hell, mercy and redemption.

"God only knows."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.