Saturday, February 12, 2011

"It Always Sounds Like I'm Preaching" - Prince and the Media, Part II

I mentioned earlier that I am researching the media's reaction to Prince's spiritual expression. I shared my thought that the media, preoccupied with the lewd components of Prince's work, didn't take the spiritual side of Prince's music seriously in the early period of Prince's career.

By the time the Around the World in a Day album was released (1985), there seemed to be a shift in the mainstream press. Prompted by songs like "Paisley Park" and "The Ladder," reporters began asking Prince about his religion. Prince confirmed a belief in God, but he did not explicitly claim a specific faith (although he was beginning to reference Jesus in his music), or discuss the topic in-depth.

There seems to be one exception: African American media, specifically Ebony magazine. Both Rolling Stone and Ebony had exclusive, one-on-one interviews with Prince during the same period (1985-1986). In his interview with Rolling Stone, Prince gave a vague response about religion, using his song "Paisley Park" as a reference point. However, in his interview with Ebony , he opened up a little more and admitted that God was the key to his happiness.

He did explain his reluctance to speak about religion. "I don't really like talking about it always sounds like I'm preaching."

Prince continued to be forthcoming with Ebony about his faith throughout the years. In fact, one writer, Lynn Norment, wrote the majority of the Prince features. When the magazine did an extensive story on Prince in 2004, the artist and the writer had developed a comfortable rapport. One of my goals is to track down Ms. Norment and talk to her about her experience interviewing Prince.

For my journalism history class, I've decided to focus on Rolling Stone's coverage of Prince from 1978 to 2004. It is not quite in line with my personal project, as I am looking at topics other than spirituality. Back in 2004, Prince made a comment to Entertainment Weekly that it took him four albums to get on the cover of Rolling Stone. One month later, the magazine did a cover story--fourteen years after the last one! Prince has made other comments about Rolling Stone, and I'd like to explore his relationship with the magazine.

After I complete this school paper, I plan to go back to African American media coverage of Prince's spirituality. I'd like to look at other publications such as Jet and some broadcast media.

I will check back in very soon!

Friday, February 11, 2011

"What I Learned from Layin' in the Cut" - I'm back!

Unfortunately, my one-week hiatus turned into a very long break. The intensity of my one-year master's program is starting to take its toll. Although I have been busy with school and personal matters, my Prince project has never left my mind. Here are some updates:

I am so close to securing the next big interview for my book. I was actually set to do the interview back in mid-January, but we had to reschedule. I am being persistent, and I'm waiting for my source's schedule to free up next week. I hope to have good news soon.

I have been continuing my research on Prince and the media, and I am really intrigued by African American magazines' coverage of Prince's spirituality. I will elaborate on this subject in the next post.

I have been swamped with reading for school, but I managed to finally get through the first few chapters of Dez Dickerson's book. So far, I'm really enjoying it, and I look forward to learning about his exit from The Revolution in his own words. Based on other Prince biographies, his departure was spritually motivated. Honestly, I probably won't get back to the book until spring break when I have time to continue in chronological order (I don't like to skip ahead). After all this time, I just noticed that Mr. Dickerson included a personalized autograph in the front cover of my copy! Whether or not he signs them all, I think it's pretty cool. I hope he decides to talk to me in the future...

I recently received information that some of Prince's acquaintances are under orders not to speak to the media about him. That makes sense. If nothing else, I want them to understand that I don't have any ill intentions, and I'm not interested in writing a tell-all. On the other hand, I'm not trying to paint Prince as a saint. My desire is to be as objective as possible. I think people will be interested and hopefully inspired by the story. I think anyone's growth and maturity over the years can be inspiring to others.

With that said, it's probably best to start contacting the people who are the most removed from Prince. I would absolutely love to talk to Ingrid Chavez, his co-star in Graffiti Bridge. She appears to be continuing with her own music career. According to other biographies, she seemed to have a profound effect on Prince, and she was present during a crucial time of spiritual development in the artist's life. I tried to contact her a while back via her website, but I didn't get a response. I will definitely try again.

One of my loyal readers mentioned that she really wants me to find out more about the "Prince and the occult" rumors. As I've said, I have never read or heard anything about that, but I will look into it in the future. I have not forgotten!

Well, I dreamed that I met Prince twice in the past month. I hope that is a good sign! The rest of my quarter is looking pretty unpredictable, but I don't want to stay away this long again!

Thank you so much for reading.