Legendary soul singer Tina Turner, known for her electrifying live performances, died in her home in Küsnacht, Switzerland, on Wednesday, May 24. She was 83 years old.
“With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model,” said Bernard Doherty, Turner’s publicist, who did not share a cause of death. According to the New York Times, Turner suffered a stroke and was also battling other illnesses, including kidney disease, in recent years.
Born Anna Mae Bullock in 1939 in Brownsville, Tennessee, Turner first took the stage at a club in East St. Louis where she used to go to hear Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm. Drummer Eugene Washington invited her to sing one night, and the rest is history. The band became the Ike and Tina Turner Revue in 1960 and Ike and Tina romantic partners until they later divorced in 1978. After a few years out of the spotlight, Turner soared in popularity with the 1984 hit album Private Dancer, and she became one of the most successful solo artists of all time.
Turner was also a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism, which she says changed her life when she started practicing in 1973. As former senior editor at Tricycle and the editor of the Tricycle Haiku Challenge Clark Strand wrote in an interview with Turner in 2020, “Tina has overcome domestic abuse, discrimination, professional setbacks, life-threatening illness, and devastating personal loss. Throughout it all, she has credited her practice of Nichiren Buddhism as the source of her hope for a better world and her determination to overcome every obstacle in her life.”
Speaking about how chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo helped her during a time of personal crisis, Turner said, “Not long after I started chanting, I began to see that the power I needed to change my life was already within me.” In her interview with Strand, Turner also spoke about why, as a musician, she was drawn to chanting; how she still holds on to the Baptist influences of her childhood; and how to approach the divisiveness of our times.
“Buddhism has taught me that hidden inside of our challenges are the lessons we must learn in order to break through to a better life. As hard as that might be to grasp in the midst of difficult times, when we can see our problems from that perspective, things naturally change. Then even the impossible becomes possible.”
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