Kirk Franklin has, without a doubt changed modern music more than any other artist in the last two decades. He has been called the architect of a new American musical genre. The 48 year old minister incorporated contemporary Hip-Hop music with traditional gospel choir arrangements to reach out to the youth with a positive and uplifting message.
Franklin was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. He began playing the piano at the age of four. By the time he was out of kindergarten, he was singing and playing on the church gospel circuit. At the age of seven, he was offered a recording contract. Thinking that he was too young, his aunt declined the offer. At age eleven he was appointed a minister of music at Mount Rose Baptist Church. He began to write, arrange and re-arrange Christian music. “My first triumph”, recalls Franklin, “was turning Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets” into a gospel tune.” At nineteen he did his first home recording and in 1992 he began to realize he was a new gospel sound. In choosing the artists that comprise The Family, he handpicked seventeen of the richest voices in the area.
In 1993, after much prayer and reflection, he with a brand new fledgling label, ‘Gospo Centric’. In January 1997 Gospel Centric was named the number 1 Gospel label in the country, fielding five artists and eight in the top 20. In seven short years, Kirk Franklin became a musical superstar. He broke barriers, crossed musical boundary lines, and achieved success unknown to any other gospel artist at that time. For the first time in history, a gospel music debut album sold over 1,000,000 copies. His first album went double platinum. Kirk and the Family has remained top of the Contemporary Christian, Urban, R&B and video charts. His debut album established Franklin as the leader of a new gospel music by expanding the genre to encompass contemporary R&B and Hip-Hop. The base for this new genre has grown exponentially. His second album, Kirk Franklin the Family Christmas sold over 500,000 in weeks.
Franklin’s latest project scheduled for a late spring or early summer release features youth group 1 Nation Crew. The CD is just as diverse as the members of the group, which is multicultural and is expected to cross-cultural barriers around the world. The group recently performed a single from the CD on Morning America. Franklin and his wife Tammy live in Arlington and have two children; Kerrion, and Kennedy.
Has Kirk Franklin gone too far? He has drawn some controversy with his Hip-Hop hit flavoured tune with a gospel message. Entitled ‘Stomp’ Featuring Salt and Pepper.
Steve Jones, a reporter from USA Today reported on March 21st, 2000.
‘Kirk Franklin says the debate over whether ‘Stomp,’ the phenomenal funk-driven, hip Hop flavoured hit, is truly gospel music, is still simmering. He’s undeterred in bringing his messages of Salvation and uplift to young people by using the beats of the streets. He says he’s on a mission to counter the negativity found in some of today’s popular records, but he can’t do it if he doesn’t get kids’ attention first. “I’ve got kids, and I had to throw some of my son’s (R&B and rap) CDs away,” says the father of three.’
Franklin says ‘we are trying to make testimonial messages from the church more accessible to everybody’.
But is this really the right way?
I believe music is important to God because it informs apart of the worship and is continually rendered under him in heaven. Now some of us are going to be shocked when we get to heaven, it’s going to blow are minds, you hear some people saying, they ain’t gonna do that in heaven. As Christians we use music to express praise, and to awaken a devotion, and gratitude to God. Satan has devised numerous counterfeits to deceive us into worshiping him. See the devil wants us hang up on music, whiles souls are perishing, he wants us to be in the church arguing about the style of music. Some are critical about the beat, but have not won one soul to Jesus.