Some Will Hear: Tina Turner, African American Buddhist Teacher

American Religion Vol 4, Issue 1

This article follows Tina Turner's evolution from a Buddhist practitioner who talks about her practice and beliefs in the midst of promoting her work as a mainstream artist to a lay (Black) Buddhist teacher on the 2009 album Beyond (Gold Edition): Buddhist and Christian Prayers. Specifically, I analyze the creation, content, and promotion of the album, placing Turner's contributions in the context of her conversion to Soka Gakkai Nichiren Buddhism and the history of the American branch of Soka Gakkai International. With Beyond, Turner consciously takes on the role of authoritative Buddhist teacher by creating a sonic liturgy. Turner's example challenges scholars working in American Buddhism to pay closer attention to the unique aspects of Black Buddhist teaching and practice. Turner's shift also further encourages scholars of African American religious history to nuance their understanding of "the Black Church" as the primary location of African American religious practice, affiliation, or authority.