Faith

As a Jehovah's Witness, Prince Found an Odd Sense of Normalcy

Rock singer Prince performs at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., during his opening show, Feb. 18, 1985. (AP Photo/Liu Heung Shing)

When Prince is the object of conversation, the word “normal” takes on a relative meaning. The pop music icon whose life and death have captivated the nation was known for his flamboyance. One would expect to be able to pick him out of any given room. But there was one spot he frequented where he did not stand out at all. The Los Angeles Times bring us the story:

Auditorium A in the Kingdom Hall of the St. Louis Park Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses doesn’t have a dance club or a recording studio. The Jehovah’s Witnesses who meet in this small complex outside Minneapolis don’t even have any musical instruments except for a piano hidden in a closet that no one uses. The walls are various shades of beige. Nothing shines, and nothing is purple. Nothing about it says “Prince.”

That’s because in Auditorium A, Prince Rogers Nelson was not known as Prince, the music megastar, but as Brother Nelson, the Jehovah’s Witness. Here, one of America’s greatest sex symbols didn’t arrive in spandex and stilettos but in conservative suits and ties. He was often hard to spot among the congregation of dozens unless you were looking right at him. And that wasn’t the only way he blended in.

Over the final decade of his life, Prince worshiped here because he was a fellow believer in the Jehovah’s Witness tenets: that Jesus was a savior but was lesser to God, that these are the final days of civilization, that the dead will be resurrected, and that the world will live under a global government lead by Jehovah, a Hebrew name for God. Among the St. Louis Park congregation, Prince wasn’t a celebrity but an equal in faith.

The entire piece is worth a read. It seems likely that part of the appeal Prince found in associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses was the sense of normalcy they provided. The Kingdom Hall was a place he could be treated not as an icon, but as a regular human being.

As a former Jehovah’s Witness myself, that seems more than a little ironic. An untold number of children who grew up as Jehovah’s Witnesses have left the fold seeking something more akin to what Prince achieved in the broader world. The grass is always greener, as they say.