In the wake of Prince’s untimely death on Thursday, April 21, fans are remembering the music icon in a myriad ways, but perhaps one of the most important aspects of his life is also the most overlooked: his faith.
“When he started as a kid, he was a Seventh-day Adventist,” Ronin Ro, the author of Prince’s authorized biography, exclusively tells Us Weekly. “That’s known for being really close to what’s in the Bible — he had a strong biblical foundation. In the late ‘90s, he experienced setbacks and his bass player at the time introduced him to Jehovah’s Witnesses. He really embraced it. He definitely had faith.”
The legendary musician, who was found dead at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota on Thursday morning, was baptized in 2001, and from then on, refused to swear in his songs.
Prince’s spirituality also heavily influenced his lyrics, and many of his songs have appeared on playlists for the U.S. visits of Pope Benedict in 2008 and Pope Francis in 2015, according to The Washington Post.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life,” he intones in the opening for “Let’s Go Crazy.”
According to Ro, Prince was closest with his father, John L. Nelson, and had an “optimistic” outlook on life.
“He was hardworking, open-minded and always just wanting to learn,” the author says. “He was also very generous, and open. And he had amazing confidence.”
Prince’s generosity extended to mentoring countless artists in the beginning of their careers.
“He would collaborate with some of the young artists at different times throughout his life, like D’Angelo, when he was first starting out,” Ro recalls. “Prince would work with the people who liked him.” Other entertainers who have called Prince a mentor include Vanity, Sheila E., Janelle Monae, Wyclef Jean, Justin Timberlake and more.
And when he wasn’t working or in the studio, Ro says that Prince had a few unexpected interests.
“At one point he was very into film, before music,” he tells Us of the icon, who starred in Purple Rain (1984), Under the Cherry Moon (1986) and Graffiti Bridge (1990). “He had aspirations to work in film. He also liked to play basketball. When he wasn’t working, he really was just a normal dude. But songwriting was extremely important to him.”
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