Religion's Influence in Music
From left to right: Chick Corea, Beck, and Kate Ceberano, three Scientologist musicians who have endured controversy around their beliefs.

Chick Corea, the US jazz musician and member of Miles Davis’ 60s band once said that Scientology is the most important thing that artists need. The statement by the musician echoes the emotions of several musicians that are part of the Church Of Scientology.


Corea performing with Miles Davis in 1969

The questions that arise include – what is the reason behind the inclination of several musicians towards Scientology? How does it affect their art and music? What are the reasons that fans focus on the musician’s religion rather than their music, occasionally leading to anger and boycotts?

Scientology has influenced high profile and significant people and it’s the case with musicians as well.

The president of the Australian Church Of Scientology, Vicki Dunstan, said the religion “addresses the spirit,” in an interview with Australian music blog Tone Deaf. Dunstan continues saying, “Scientology is not a dogmatic religion in which one is asked to accept anything on faith alone. On the contrary, one discovers for oneself that the principles of Scientology are true by applying its principles and observing or experiencing the results.”

L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology’s founder, was a passionate musical theorist and multi-instrumentalist. He has released two albums; one, The Road to Freedom includes a number of Scientologist musicians like John Travolta and Chick Corea. The other one is Mission Earth for which Hubbard wrote the lyrics and music. Edgar Winter has interpreted the album.

In 1980, Hubbard wrote soundtracks to his own science-fiction books along with essays of analysis on different genres. Hubbard was claimed by Corea to be a true Renaissance man who was an immense composer and keyboard player.

When someone asked Dunstan the reason for the popularity of Scientology among musicians, she said that this religion could revitalize artists in a very calm and real way. It has very basic principles that are very creative. Scientology principles can increase the artist’s ability to communicate and make them more creative.

Beck is one of the most popular and outstanding Scientologist musicians who was completely immersed in the religion, raised by Scientologist parents. He studied in a Scientologist school where he took several Scientologist courses at very young age.


Video for Beck’s Grammy Award-Winning song “Where It’s At”

Musicians have more control over their personal expression through their work than an actor. Music is a full form of expressing your inner self to the public; that is why people start relating strongly with an artist. The fans become so associated with the song and music that they cannot detach it from the person who created it.

Several other famous and influential musicians are Scientologists. A few of those include Isaac Hayes, Chick Corea, Doug E Fresh and Australia’s own Kate Ceberano.

Just like Beck, there is a huge fan base of Corea, which is not able to disconnect its favorite musician from his personal beliefs.
A number of critics negatively criticized the album. People who ignored the personal life of the artist started showing their anger later.

Dunstan said in an interview that the most beautiful music lies in religion and so people should not care what the religion of their much-loved song is. She thinks that religion and music both are related with each other.

Dunstan seems to imply the attack on a musician’s religious beliefs is isolated to just Scientologists when she says she would ask a boycotting fan, “Would you stop listening to Mozart because he was a Freemason or Mahler because he was Jewish?”

Rapper Doug E. Fresh claimed that he is the first hip hop musician with Scientology beliefs.

Leonard Cohen also was at one point a believer of Scientology and a member of church. The reasons behind the Cohen’s joining of religion are possibly more shallow than his numerous counterparts as he said that he heard that it was a perfect place to meet women.

Music is generally related with the Church Of Scientology’s everyday practices. It also has its own company for production with the name of Golden Era Productions. The production company has several headquarters that feature various full-size soundstages. These facilities are only used for in-house activities, such as composing and performing music for Scientology films and Church events.

Golden Era Productions
Inside the Golden Era Productions facility

The personal beliefs of an artist are a problem only for some fans when they are unintentionally leading to contribute or somehow endorse the cause that they may not support. This should not be a matter of a musician’s personal or religious beliefs. Instead, their work deserves to be respected and judged as a piece of art aside from these ideologies.

If an artist or show is not affecting others or influencing fans and leads the fans to contribute money to a particular cause, the personal beliefs of an artist should not be one’s concern.

Music must be considered as an independent issue that should not be related with a musician’s personal life. As L. Ron Hubbard, the Scientology creator himself stated, “Music is certainly the universal language.”

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