The June/July issue of Guideposts Magazine includes a story on Prince, something that might surprise readers of this Christian magazine of hope and inspiration. I get that! The thought of Prince in Guideposts feels like a juxtaposition in terms. But as it turns out, Prince had a deep appreciation for Guideposts. More on Prince’s connection with Guideposts in a moment. First, here’s the article in the print magazine, on the back page. To read the online version, click here.
Guideposts is a nonprofit magazine was founded in 1945 by Norman Vincent Peale, author of the international bestseller The Power of Positive Thinking. According to a Publisher’s Weekly story, the magazine reports a circulation of two million. Guideposts’ purpose is to inspire readers to believe that anything is possible through faith, hope and prayer. The organization is not attached to a certain denomination, although it is Christian.
The article was more than a year in the making. In early 2018, I spoke with women’s group in Chanhassen about the book that Alex Hahn and I co-authored, The Rise of Prince: 1958-1988. I got off track and talked at length about Prince’s spirituality and how that was reflected in his songs. I recall playing “Diamonds and Pearls” and sharing how one could interpret the chorus as God speaking to Prince.
The next day, Marilyn Corrigan, who had heard my presentation, met with then-Guideposts development executive Bill Morin, who was visiting Minneapolis to meet with donors (Guideposts is a nonprofit organization and thus fundraising is necessary). When Bill mentioned that he planned to visit Paisley Park after the meeting, Marilyn told him about me.
Bill is an effervescent individual who is full of energy and positivity and he contacted me. A few weeks later, we wound up having a long conversation about our mutual love of Prince. Bill was a fan of “Purple Rain” and his wife Virginie was a fan of Prince’s work in the 90s, and together we struck up a friendship that included long email discussions punctuated with mentions of the color purple. “Purple thanks,” “purple greetings” and “purple good news” were all part of our lexicon.
During one conversation, Bill mentioned that he thought Prince had been a Guideposts subscriber. He asked his colleague who manages subscriptions to look in the subscription records, and sure enough, one “Roger Nelson” of 7801 Audubon Road in Chanhassen had indeed been a subscriber since 1997 (notably, Prince and first wife Mayte Garcia had suffered a devastating loss in October 1996 when their infant son died). There was a short gap during the 2010s before Prince became a subscriber again in the last years of his life.
News that Prince was a subscriber surprised me. And then I thought: Of course he was. Prince was a spiritual seeker who needed hope and inspiration as much as any of us.
In October 2018, I attended the Guideposts national cabinet meeting in Huntington Beach, California, and met editor-in-chief Rick Hamlin and executive editor Edward Grinnan. Guideposts wanted to find a way to get Prince into the magazine, and this article is the result. Because Prince’s image in the mind of the general public is largely linked to “Purple Rain” and provocative lyrics and stage performances, I’m glad to be able to share a lesser-known side of Prince with readers of the magazine that he clearly valued so much.