Prince, Our Unexpected Pastor
When Prince burst out onto the music scene, few knew what to make of him. He wore high heeled shoes, make-up, and often paraded around in underwear and a trench coat like it was as natural as breathing.
After audiences adjusted to the shock of his exterior, it was obvious that Prince was a very talented singer, songwriter, and musician.
For every piece of musical talent the singer possessed, there were equal potions of sex exuding out of Prince’s every pore.
It was in the animalistic grinding he did on stage, the revealing clothes that he wore, and the lyrical content of nearly every song.
Thanks to songs like Darling Nikki from the Purple Rain LP, albums are now rated by lyrical content to ensure that music so overtly sexual doesn’t make it to the ears of young listeners without their parents’ knowledge.
I just finished a remarkable book about Prince by the talented writer, TV personality, music journalist and now podcaster Touré. The book entitled I Would Die 4 U is a must read if you have any interest in Prince as an individual or his art.
Touré revealed in the book that one of Prince’s most feverish desires was to establish the public persona of “pure sex”. He made everything about his appearance and music an innuendo for the kinkiest rump a person could possibly envision.
What many people didn’t understand; however, was that Prince’s entire provocative image was lure.
Prince wanted to get listeners attracted to the sheer sexiness of his appearance so that after he had their undivided attention, he could stealthily become their preacher.
Yes, you read that correctly, Do Me, Baby singer Prince wanted to be our minister- a humble shepherd gently leading us into the presence of the Most High.
I’ve written before, that Prince’s music was either passionate sex or a whispered prayer (click here to read), but after reading I Would Die 4 U, I realized that sex and adoration for God were often tied up together for the legendary pop star.
According to Touré, sex for Prince was a natural gift that God fashioned and there was nothing wrong with acting on those passionate feelings if God created those urges.
In songs like Adore, we see Prince mixing the spiritual with the sensate as he croons:
When we be making love- I only hear the sounds, Oooh. Heavenly angels, tears of joy pouring down on us. They know we need each other, they know you are my fix…
Basically, Prince is alluding that the angels in heaven are actually pleased with the rapturous lovemaking between Prince and his girl. This is quite an interesting concept considering that the scripture frown upon premarital sex.
The examples of Prince mixing sex and spirituality are endless. Prince’s entire catalog is basically an ode to sex, God, love, and nearly worshipful adoration of women.
I Would Die 4 U reveals that many people close to the singer understood that Prince had very strong faith in God, he wasn’t as kinky in the sheets as you would think, and he felt he and his band mates were chosen by God to share God’s message of goodness in order to win souls.
Prince’s music became nearly sermonic at times and my favorite of those hidden gospels is his song Anna Stesia from the LoveSexy Album.
Prince’s Best Sermon, Anna Stesia
Personally, I always felt that the song Anna Stesia was Prince’s most revealing piece. Here he not only ministered to his listeners, but also spun a tale of an interesting spiritual experience.
In the first few lines of the song, Prince admits to being lonely and he is teasing the audience into thinking he might be bisexual (a common early theme for the artist used strictly for shock value) by singing,
Have you ever wanted to play with someone so much you’d take anyone, boy or girl?
After he gets that vain jest out of him, Prince seriously begs for Anna Stesia.
Anna Stesia come to me, talk me, ravish me, liberate my mind. Tell me what you think of me, praise me, craze me, out this space and time.
This line suggests two ideas to me: Anna Stesia is some hot chick that really delivers in the bedroom or Anna Stesia is the Holy Spirit/Jesus.
Touré explained that Prince’s song Some Time It Snows in April is truly about Jesus being crucified in the month of April because this is the first time that Prince makes death seem like a dreadful thing.
In his other hits such as, 1999 or Let’s Go Crazy, death is this cool moment of Christ’s return and the mass rapture into heaven and/or Judgment Day. In those songs death is a celebration.
Prince was raised as a Seven Day-Adventist and this Christian domination doesn’t view death as a particularly bad thing. What is sad to them possibly is that Christ had to be put to death for our sins, that’s why Prince may be mourning.
Touré believes that Christopher Tracy who Prince mentions in the song Christopher Tracy’s Parade is a play on the word Jesus Christ. When Prince mourns the death of Tracy in Sometimes It Snows in April, Prince is actually mourning the death of Christ.
Anna Stesia seems like a play on the word Holy Spirit or possibly Jesus to me.
When this idea came to me, I did a quick Google search for the meaning of Anastasia and learned that it is a Greek name for the word resurrection.
Wikipedia states, “The name Anastasia originated during the early days of Christianity and was given to many Greek girls born in December and around Easter.”
The meaning of Anastasia caused me to think of another important figure who called himself Resurrection. John 11:25 (NKJV) states, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live.
Is Prince calling Jesus by the name of Resurrection and asking Him to come to him and have a chat?
Conversely, the Holy Spirit, the third branch of the Holy Trinity, is a comforter in times of trouble. The comforter or the Holy Spirit could not indwell inside of believers until after the resurrection and the ascension of Jesus.
Jesus says in John 16:7 (KJV), “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”
Again, is Prince asking for the Holy Spirit to talk to him and comfort him during his lonely hour?
Whatever the case, in Prince’s time of desperation he is either calling out for Jesus or the Holy Spirit. He wants the divine entities to converse with him, praise his good deeds, liberate his mind from the ways of the world, and craze him out of the concept of space or time where God exists.
Prince also asks to be ravished which has sexual connotation, but many African American Christians understand that to be slain in the spirit or “catching the Holy Ghost” is an experience that totally ravishes the believers being and it is an altogether consuming experience.
Prince enjoyed spelling words oddly with the intent of standing out. Often he replaces words for numerals, but the spelling of Anna Stesia seems very calculated.
Touré suggested that when Prince wanted his work consumed in a certain way, he toyed with the presentation of his products so that his listeners would be almost forced to hear or see things in the way he intended.
That is why Prince’s most spiritual album LoveSexy, where the song Anna Stesia appears is not in a track by track format, but rather it is one giant loop of songs presented in a way that forces audiences to listen to the song in the order Prince desired.
This concept made me believe that the spelling of Anna Stesia as not one word but two broken syllable groups had meaning to the singer. Again, I searched online for the meaning of Anna and discovered that it means full or grace or favor.
I feel like Prince is imploring some literary sound device in which the syllables in Stesia sound a lot like Jesus.
If you combine Anna and Stesia together in this context, you have “Favored Jesus” or mix it up and you have “Jesus full of Grace”. Note that the last concept brings to mind the catholic Hail Mary prayer.
Finally in Anna Stesia, Prince grows weary of speaking in code so he bursts out and exclaims “Save me Jesus! I’ve been a fool! I can’t forget you are the rule!”
After Prince goes though his crisis of faith, He realizes that he needs Jesus and you do too. Prince preaches on his live version at the end of the song, “Love is God, God is love, girls and boys, love God above.”
Prince resolves the song by basically communicating with his audience, which he has lured into being his congregation, as much as I talk about sex, I don’t need sex, neither do you – we all only need God.
Touré said that Prince purposely preformed this song on tour to look like the resurrection of Christ, but also represents the resurrection of himself from this overtly sexually being to our loving pastor hoping to win our souls.
The live performance to me is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I can only compare it to an African American church service when people become slain in the spirit.
This performance is transfixing and other-worldly. It’s obvious that Prince is truly caught up in some intense emotion. He’s mouthing words as though he is praying, he’s breathing rapidly, and sweating profusely. I think the guy might be truly prostrate in the presence of God and it’s quite interesting to watch.
Learn More About Prince the Pastor
Anna Stesia is arguably the most though provoking and complex example of spirituality in his vast catalogue, but there are numerous songs in which Prince becomes preachy.
Checkout this playlist I curated to give you an idea of how Prince infuses the spiritual and the sensate to become our unexpected pastor.
Checkout Touré’s outstanding book I Would Die 4 U to learn more about the complex enigma, Prince Rodgers Nelson.