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Fri Sep 30 10:19:11 SAST 2016

Prince mourned in private Jehovah's Witness service

AFP | 16 May, 2016 08:47
Musician Prince gestures on stage during the Apollo Theatre's 75th anniversary gala in New York, June 8, 2009.
Image by: LUCAS JACKSON / REUTERS

Late pop icon Prince was remembered Sunday in a private ceremony at his church, with his family looking to hold a public event in August.

Television footage showed mourners dressed in black entering a Jehovah's Witness temple in the leafy suburb of Minnetonka outside Minneapolis.

The Star Tribune newspaper of Minneapolis said that Prince's protegee Sheila E was among hundreds who attended the 45-minute service, which was closed to the media.

Prince, one of the most influential pop artists of his generation and whose songs were often sexually explicit, was baptized as a Jehovah's Witness in 2003.

Prince embraced the faith's practice of proselytization, with the internationally famous pop legend reported to have knocked on doors in the Minneapolis suburbs to distribute religious literature.

Local television station KARE quoted the printed program at Prince's memorial as saying that the star "found great joy and satisfaction in sharing the things he learned from the Bible with others."

The singer was brought into the Jehovah's Witnesses through his friendship with Larry Graham, bassist of funk legends Sly and the Family Stone.

Prince, who was known for his on-stage vigor and healthy diet, died suddenly on April 21 at his Paisley Park estate in the Minneapolis suburb of Chanhassen.

His family gathered two days later at Paisley Park after his body was cremated, according to the singer's representatives.

But his sister, Tyka Nelson, said Friday that she did not consider that "intimate gathering" to have been his funeral and that the family was still planning a public event.

"The proposed plan is to have our Memorial/Funeral/Tribute in August," she wrote on Facebook, adding that she and Prince's remains would only be present at that forthcoming event.

"Prince and his music influenced so many people that we feel inspired to celebrate his life and legacy in just the right way," she wrote.

Investigators have not released a cause of death for Prince, but doctors had been rushing to treat him for his dependence on painkillers.

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