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::EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW::   
LE Newsletter - October 27, 2005

 

  Interview With Kirk Franklin

Sony/BMG gave me the unique opportunity to interview Kirk Franklin by phone this week.  If you like gospel music at all, Kirk Franklinís Hero is the CD to pick up. 
My favourite tracks include Looking for You, Let it Go (Fred Hammond on his reflection on wounds caused by fatherlessness), Afterwhile sung by Yolanda Adams (a song about moving past pain, with clarity and sensitivity), Stevie Wonderís Why and Sunshine.  Other than one track on the CD (which was written by Andre Harris and Vidal Davis), Kirk Franklin wrote all the songs.  I highly recommend that you pick up this CD! 

As in my previous newsletters, his latest offering is Hero.  Kirk Franklinís music has always been gospel that makes Ďthe gospelí more appealing to those that may not have a religious affiliation.  By keeping it current and fresh it appeals to many age groups and reaches ears that may not otherwise hear the positive message of the lyrics. 
 

LE:

Iíve always seen you as one of the major artists that broke gospel into the mainstream listening audience.  How would you qualify your contribution?

KIRK:

I see myself as a church dude.  Just a regular young guy that loves God, and God on His own chose, for whatever reason, to take music and put it in different environments.  That was not my attempt.  My attempt was not to try to do that.  Iím just trying to be consistent with the path. 

I struggle with it, you know.  There are times that I forget that it wasnít my plan and it wasnít my agenda Ė sometimes you move in your own flesh to try to get over. 

LE:

Thatís just in life I guess.  Anybody with a Christian or any religious affiliation Ė a lot is expected.  People forget that believers are human too.  Do you feel challenged in trying to portray innocence because America is hurting so much right now?  I feel like on this CD you were trying to address that. 

KIRK:

I wanted to address that but I didnít feel challenged in it.  My approach is very honest.  Even as an album gets out and you kind of forget to listen Ė some people find me a little wishy washy.  The Rebirth album was a very straightforward album and with this one, itís an album that God led me to do but for some people, it can be kind of wishy washy. 

Is it traditional, is it hip hop?  Is he going to be worshippy?  And for me, Iím just trying to be me.  Iím just trying to be obedient to what God has for me to do and not trying to do anything more than that. 

LE:

Well, thatís the music industry as well Ė more so than the consumer - that wants to put you into a category.  Sometimes it doesnít matter, youíve just got to let the music Ďbeí.  The music industry is very driven by commercial gain Ė have you felt those pressures and has it ever affected the music?

KIRK:

You can feel the pressure when I take my eyes off Christ and when I put my eyes on to the worldís agenda.  You can feel that pressure but thatís a pressure that you put on yourself. 

LE:

Do you find anything exciting about the industry? 

KIRK:

Not the industry stuff, no.  The music thatís from God is wonderful but when you take something from the Creator and you put it in front of the creation, which is Man, the creation tries to validate it to see whether itís good or bad Ė thatís when everything gets contaminated and real foggy.  A lot of times we can be guilty of leaning to what the creation is saying instead of resting on what the Creator gave. 

I find myself so guilty of that.  Even with this record, there were times I was guilty of that.  Many days that I was looking for Man to validate something that God gave.  Itís an unfair thing to ask God to give you something thatís never been created and then we look for the applause of Man to validate it.  Thatís not good. 

LE:

Maybe thatís just part of it and I think thatís just how weíre made.  I think that there are tests along the way.  Even within believers, you get different approaches to presenting the work Ė no matter how you look at it, youíve got to stay true to what He told you to do. 

KIRK:

Amen!  Speak sister!

LE:

I really loved this CD by the way.  I really was touched by quite a few of the tracks.  You say that thereís a point where you can see all of lifeís successes and failures have all been for a purpose.  What are some of your defining moments?

KIRK:

Thereís never one defining moment Ė the creative process evolves because itís always evolving.  Thereís a dude in the Bible named Paul and itís all about how weíve been transformed from glory to glory Ė weíre going from one season of growth to the other season of growth.  Every season thereís so many tremendous lessons.

Remember my wife and I have four kids.  Thereís not enough paper in the world to write down all of the defining moments as parents that we see in our children.  Life is so full of those types of lessons and those lessons are the ones that we take to the studio when we sit down to the keyboards and when we put the pen to paper. 

LE:

Did you have a defining moment when it came to this project?

KIRK:

The defining moment for Hero for me, the one that I remember mostly is that those were songs I was showing my wife.  Just the creative process for me too Ė it is the scariest, the most vulnerable project because if you donít say nothing, the people around are looking at you like Ďwhatís wrong fool?í. 

You are very vulnerable to God to depend on Him to say something.  Youíre asking Him to say something significant.  When I was working on the song ĎImagine Meí, I called my wife upstairs to listen to the skeleton of it.  I was just singing out that line and she looked at and she shook her head, ĎYou donít get it but I guess youíre not supposed toí.  That was a very defining moment for me for this project. 

LE:

Would you say that the difference between this project and other projects would be that you left yourself more vulnerable to the message or to God?

KIRK:

Just more vulnerable.  Here I am.  For me, itís always like a naked place but I can admit that this time around, it was a little more naked for me.  Thereís this needy place.

The biggest concern is that you sit and ask God for something that you look to Man to validate and thatís wrong.  So, because of that, if you go before God again, will God still allow me to hear Him when He knows that Iím going to be tempted?  You know when your kid asks you for the keys but every time they get the car, thereís a dent somewhere.  Do you keep giving them the keys?  Itís always that vulnerable place where ĎIs God going to give me the keys?í

LE:

Well I can really feel the message on this CD.  In April 2006, youíll be hosting the Dove Awards, Gospel musicís highest honour - whatís the most exciting about hosting for you?

KIRK:

Well, itís my first time hosting the Dove Awards Ė itís going to be real cool because Iím a champion and I want both those communities to be one. 

LE:

Are you touring at all with Hero?  Will there be a Canadian tour?

KIRK:

Not yet Ė probably not until February.  Iíd LOVE to come to Canada.  Yeah. 

LE:

Thereís a lot of people that Iím speaking for that would love you to come to Canada.

KIRK:

Wow.  Well then yes, Iíve got to come to Canada. 

LE:

What pieces of advice do you give someone who wants to become a Gospel artist? 

KIRK:

When you have the microphone, the microphone is a very powerful thing and itís very important you realize that thereís a responsibility with the microphone Ė a responsibility to say something very significant.  Nobody can make that decision.  I would say to those that are Christian artists, that is even more magnified because you have to be willing to die Ė that you cannot allow the vehicle to take the place of the vision. 

LE:

Who are some of your influences?

KIRK:

My influences coming up were Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and even hip hop like Run DMC.  It wasnít until I trusted Christ with my heart and became a born again Christian that the influences of Christian music really began to resonate in my heart. 

LE:

Youíve got a unique brand of music with a global appeal.  Whatís been one of the highlights of your career?

KIRK:

Being able to keep my family together while I still do it. 

LE:

If you could work with any artist (living or past), who would they be?

KIRK:

I donít know.  Iíve been on tour with everybody from Bono to Stevie Wonder so Iím pretty good!

LE:

How does the gospel/Christian community embrace your success?

KIRK:

I donít know.  I try very hard to be a servant to my community, to be a light to my community, to win my community with the vision of Christ, to be able to be someone who can help and just pour love into them.  Thatís how I try to be to my community. 

LE:

What do you want people to remember you for? 

KIRK:

That dude was real Ė he was a real dude. 

LE:

Whatís in your CD player right now?

KIRK:

Iíve got a rapper by the name of The Truth, a Christian dude, heís hot and Coldplay and Iíve got some Bob James, some Lalah Hathaway

LE:

Well, that about wraps it up.  I wanted to wish you condolences on the loss of Gerald Wright, your longtime manager and friend. 

KIRK:

Thank you so much. 

 
I certainly hope that Mr. Franklin makes his way up to Canada Ė as we all have seen on various television specials and award shows, he puts on a great show with an amazing array of talented vocalists and musicians.  Iím sure he would manage to bring us a new kind of blessing. 

Thanks to
Steve Nightingale at Sony/BMG for the opportunity!