The recent publicity about the death of Prince couldn’t be avoided. How could I know that in all that news I would find a sister in song! Prince was known for his eclectic styles, but I didn’t realize that spirituality was one aspect of his work. He recorded “What If” and introduced it on a Louisville, Kentucky radio show in March, 2015, just before kicking off his “Hit & Run” tour. It dealt with the doubts of religious skeptics and asked, “What if you’re wrong, what if there’s more?” with his backup trio, 3rdEyeGirl. The song had been written and recorded in 2005 by Nichole Nordeman who had a decidedly lower key style.
I knew about Prince, but who is Nichole Nordeman? She was raised in the church and played piano for them, but didn’t go beyond that. She must have had some recognizable talent, because the music director of her church gave her a brochure about a GMA competition for new songs. This young waitress borrowed the $200 to enter and she won! Not only that, but she made connections with the recording industry and got a deal with Star Song Records. Her first album was in 1998, and she’s gone on to create several others. She has written for the Veggie Tales movie, and performed for Music Inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia. In 2003, she won Dove Awards as female vocalist of the year, song of the year, songwriter of the year and pop/contemporary recorded song of the year for her song, “Holy”.
In 2005, she released the album Brave which dealt with doubt and faith. She wanted an album that reflected where she and others she knew were spiritually and personally at that time, warts and all. Generally, she noted, people wait until their problems are resolved before releasing a song or album so they can give a testimony of some sort. Her album did not wait. One song on it was “What If”. Prince first heard it on a Christian radio station, as he was a fan of that genre. When Nichole heard Prince perform it, she was astounded. On her Facebook page, she wrote, “I don’t really have the appropriate words for what an honor this is. . . This man’s talent is otherworldly. What’s the non-musical equivalent? Tiger Woods asking to borrow your clubs?” This modest woman also wrote, “Prince heard a song about the transforming love of Jesus on Christian radio and now has given it a much wider audience than I ever did or could”.
I won’t see Prince the same way again.