‘1 + 1 + 1 is 3’ – Order, Discipline, Truth and other Christian Values in Prince’s The Rainbow Children

In his memoir, The Beautiful Ones, Prince describes his father as an orderly, moral, self-sufficient man who attended church regularly and read the Bible daily. In Prince’s eyes, there was a direct correlation between spirituality and his father’s structured way of living. “Religion is about self-development,” Prince writes. “That’s all it is.” That philosophy can be found throughout Prince’s discography, but most pointedly on his 2001 album, The Rainbow Children.

At that time, Prince was embracing the Jehovah’s Witness faith, a sect of Christianity based on unique Biblical interpretation, strict rules for living and a rigorous practice of evangelism. This presentation outlines how Prince uses The Rainbow Children to promote the religion and its emphasis on order, discipline, and truth. The presenter will tie those values back to Prince’s father, one of his earliest religious and musical influences, and demonstrate how they show up in the sound and aesthetic of the era — which focuses heavily on jazz and funk traditions.

Erica Thompson

Erica Thompson is the Ohio regional business reporter covering race, gender, and the economy for the Columbus Dispatch and the USA Today Network. Her articles have also appeared on Billboard.com, Mic.com, HuffPost.com, TVLine.com, and UltimatePrince.com. She has been awarded by the Press Club of Cleveland and the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Thompson has a master’s degree in journalism from Ohio University’s acclaimed E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, where she completed her thesis on Prince. She was invited to present her research on Prince’s spirituality at Purple Reign: An interdisciplinary conference on the life and legacy of Prince at the University of Salford, UK; the Prince from Minneapolis symposium at the University of Minnesota; the Prince EYE NO: Lovesexy symposium at New York University (NYU) and the virtual Prince #DM40GB30 symposium at NYU.

She has been published in Theology and Prince, an edited collection on theology and the life, music, and films of Prince Rogers Nelson. She is currently finishing her first book, a comprehensive study of Prince’s spiritual journey.