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 much...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!

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