According to Guinness World Records, Tina Turner–who was born on November 26, 1939–has sold more concert tickets than any other solo performer in history. In addition to her history-making career, she famously survived her abusive relationship with Ike Turner, having gained the resolution to free herself from him after converting to Nichiren Buddhism. There’s nothing like a story of an underdog overcoming tyranny. Her story is told in the movie What’s Love Got To Do With It.
The Nichiren tradition is based on the Lotus Sutra, which I read some time back in order to write the Epicurean Reasonings on the Lotus Sutra. Studying Nichiren helped me to understand the dignified way in which Tina carries herself, projecting herself almost like a lioness. The sutra teaches that everyone has the potential of becoming a Buddha here and now, in this world, and the practice of Nichiren Buddhism produces a sense of confidence, dignity and self-respect, gives courage and lasting happiness.
The practice is based mainly on chanting, which research shows has many health and well-being benefits. I cite research on chanting by Marian Diamond in my book, and this page cites many other studies. Leave it to a musician to use sound to better herself! Here is audio of Tina chanting the daimoku.
I consider Tina a great role model, not just for Black women, but for everyone. She has a true rock star presence on stage, and never allowed herself to remain tied to racial or gender stereotypes. These days she’s a Swiss citizen, but the 80’s were the peak of her solo career, and when I think of her legacy, this is one of the songs that come to mind.