“Sheep of Another Fold”: Resonances of Prince’s The Rainbow Children in the Invention of B.Slade, The Gospel Artist Formerly Known as Tonéx 

This presentation will encompass a listening to the echoes of Prince’s re-emergence through The Rainbow Children (2001) as amplified in the invention of B.Slade in his EP and mixtape Rainbow (2008) and The Children (2012). Best known as the gospel artist formerly known as Tonéx, B.Slade is a queer preacher-musician who embodies a combination of the most popular archetypes of African-American men’s worship—the preacher and the vocalist head musician—while wielding multifarious rhetorics during his musical performance. Tonéx and B.Slade’s combined corpus contests the portrayal of same-gender-loving men as down low, secretive, deceptive, and always withholding information about who they are from their loved ones. Instead, he proposes that queer believers are “sheep of another fold” (John 10:16) emblematic of an abiding promise that there is hope for musical siblings on the margins.

Alisha Lola Jones

Alisha Lola Jones, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University (Bloomington). Dr. Jones is a graduate of University of Chicago (Ph.D.), Yale Divinity School (M.Div.), Yale Institute of Sacred Music (ISM) and Oberlin Conservatory (B.M.). Dr. Jones’ is a council member of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s (SEM) council and the co-chair of the Music and Religion section of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). Additionally, as a performer-scholar, she consults seminaries and arts organizations on curriculum, programming, and content development.

Dr. Jones’ book Flaming: The Peculiar Theo-Politics of Fire and Desire in Black Male Gospel Performance (2020) breaks ground by analyzing the role of gospel music-making in constructing and renegotiating gender identity among black men. Dr. Jones’ research interests include musical masculinities, gastromusicology, global pop music, future studies, ecomusicology, music and theology, the music industry, musics of the African diaspora, and emerging research on music and future foodways in conjunction with The Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley, CA.

Flaming?: The Peculiar Theopolitics of Fire and Desire in Black Male Gospel Performance