Thursday, October 5, 2017

"Preach the Good News" - Extended Interview with Larry Graham

"It was never me pushing him or telling him what to do. ... I’m simply just teaching him what I know and then he could decide what he wanted to do with that information."

"Larry Graham" by JouWatch, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Back in 2013 when I was living the hectic life of a freelance writer (I'm blessed to have a full-time journalism gig now), I interviewed Larry Graham with an intention to place the article somewhere, anywhere. My communication with his manager had actually gone as far back as Prince's Welcome 2 America show at Madison Square Garden in 2010; I was hoping to talk to Graham then because he was an opening act.

So after two years of perseverance, I finally spoke to Graham about his career, and was unable to place the piece anywhere other than my website. After the fact, I had an editor tell me I should have played up the Drake connection a bit more (the rapper is his nephew). Oh well, you live and learn.

So I held onto Graham's cell phone number for three years, knowing I'd eventually have to call him back to talk about Prince's spirituality for my book. That day came earlier this year, and I've finally transcribed the interview.

Graham was Prince's spiritual adviser before and after Prince's conversion to the Jehovah's Witness faith (Prince was batpized in March 2003, according to Graham). Graham was very pleasant and patient during our conversation, and I am honored he took the time to speak with me. And he's a legend, for goodness sakes (I made my mom proud by getting this interview).

Some of the most valuable information I found out was the true start of their spiritual study, which I don't think many people know about; the titles of three religious publications Prince studied; and Graham's perspective on Prince's faith at the time of Prince's death (I think I startled him when I asked if he thought Prince died at peace with God). Graham also offered his opinion on reports of Prince's drug use.

Additionally, we touched on Prince's heavily religious Rainbow Children album (Graham likened it to his Ain't No 'Bout-A-Doubt It and Mirror albums with Graham Central Station in the '70s, following his own religious conversion), and the changes Prince made in his life and art in the 2000s.

This was such an important interview for me, and with both Graham's description of Prince's conversion and Prince's ex-wife Mayte Garcia's description in her book, I think I'm approaching a somewhat balanced picture of that time period.

Overall, I think some fans are too critical of Graham; we have to remember that Prince was an adult and ultimately made his own decision about his religion.

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  1. Larry Graham is the best singer and many of his fans will love to see his interview especially they prefer such interviews live. Can't wait to see him, yayy.

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