Vincentians of Wherever: Celebrity Activism

by | Apr 24, 2016 | Formation, Reflections | 2 comments


Celebrity activism sometimes gets a bad rap.

Many of us who are aficionados of contemporary music are, in our own ways, mourning the death of the artist called “Prince.”

Most people know him because of his outlandish sartorial style, his gender-stretching image, and his vocal dexterity. But fewer people know of his commitment to social justice. Lacing his lyrics with social observation and critique has been a hallmark of his music. As early as 1981, he lashed out at the folly of the cold war in his “Ronnie Talk to Russia.” And he wasn’t done.

“We’re against hungry children / Our record stands tall / There’s just as much hunger here at home.” (Hello, 1995)

“Everybody’s talkin’ about hard times / Like it just started yesterday / People eye know they’ve been strugglin’ / At least it seems that way / Fat cats on Wall Street / They got a bailout / While somebody else got 2 wait.” (Ol’ Skool Company, 2010).

Histmp_2476-FB_IMG_1461324307478-1626376796 lyrics reached millions, and their content has helped shape the “volunteer generations.” He combined his musical activism with a strong commitment to charity as well.

So, what am I getting at? Three things:

  • Celebrity activism has its place. We should be very careful when we criticize.
  • When we use music to evangelize, are we stuck in a Christian music/religious music rut, or do we allow popular culture to be a tool for evangelization?
  • Can we believe that the charism we celebrate has been distributed widely — perhaps more widely than we allow ourselves to imagine?

When I evangelize, #IamVincent. In some analogous way, could Prince be Vincent, too?


  1. Sr. Marjory Ann Baez, D.C.

    Thank you for your thoughtful reflection.

    • S. Therese Steiner

      Thanks for this positive, uplifting message in regard to Prince.

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