Home / Artists / Interviews / Kirk Franklin discusses the music, behind the music & interesting insights. | @KirkFranklin

Kirk Franklin discusses the music, behind the music & interesting insights. | @KirkFranklin

As 2017 settles in and a litany of new music gets ready to roll out, one thing remains constant…Kirk Franklin and his latest release, Losing My Religion, continues to make its mark as a major Kingdom-building cornerstone. 
 
 
Over a year later, Kirk and his catalog of hits continue to occupy to top spots on Billboard‘s coveted charts. This ability to write beautiful ballads only confirms Franklin‘s phenomenal gift to churn out chart-topping songs that sit well with a cynical music market. 
 
 
Yes, Kirk Franklin is a celebrated artist for over 20 years, but considering his impact on Contemporary Gospel music and Urban Christian culture in general, it’s surprising how Franklin hasn’t found more acceptance and accolades by peers, pastors and pontificators within the industry. Kirk Franklin has been a music trendsetter, a modern-day disciple for the Gospel and a certified, stand-up, Christian comedian for over a generation. 
 
 
Clearly, Kirk Franklin is a man of many talents who God’s entrusted to be His relatable representative. It’s on the basis of this backdrop that BlackGosopel.com stole a few fleeting minutes with Kirk to discuss the music, the man behind the music and his many interesting insights.
 
 
Kirk Franklin
LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 09: Singer Kirk Franklin performs onstage during BET Celebration Of Gospel 2016 at Orpheum Theatre on January 9, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/BET/Getty Images for BET)
In the end, you’ll likely conclude that Kirk may have kicked rigid religion to the curb, but his unwavering faith and fun-filled spirit are firmly in tact. 
 
 
Christopher Heron: When Kirk listens to music, does he prefer to listen on his stereo, on headphones, or pumping it up in his car?
 
 
Kirk Franklin: I prefer to listen to music in my home studio because the studio is an environment that demands everybody to be quiet. It’s just one of those environments that people naturally know to ‘shhhh’.  It’s almost like a library, there’s a natural instinct to be quiet.
 
 
Christopher Heron: Another thing that I’ve noticed is that your style, your swagger has taken a real vertical leap in the past few years.  Who can take credit for your style, and if it’s you, when was that defining moment when you had a breakthrough with your fashion I.Q.?
 
 
Kirk Franklin: {Laughter] That’s a funny question.  I just pick out clothes that I like. What’s really funny was that I never thought that how I dress would ever become a part of people’s conversation, I think that’s very funny to me.  Because that was never my intent, it’s hilarious.
 
 
Christopher Heron: One final quirky question. Outside of music, give to me one other interest, hobby or recreational activity you totally enjoy.
 
 
Kirk Franklin: I love movies.  I love going to the movies.  I am a movie fanatic. 
 
 
Christopher Heron: I’m going to start with the obvious question as it relates to the album Losing My Religion.  Has Kirk lost his religion?  If so, why was it important to lose your religion?
 
 
Kirk Franklin: Well, it’s important to lose as many rules that keep people feeling like they can never accomplish the relationship with God that is already theirs. Remember religion is a system of man-made beliefs that man himself created to define God, and the problem is that man at different times throughout history kept changing those rules.  But we’ve changed those rules based on the culture and the times that we’re living in.  
 
 
God never intended for man to try to define Him. God has already defined Himself, He’s done that through his Son, Jesus Christ, but because we’re so programmed as human beings to think that we have to participate or add on to what He’s already been done, we naturally think that we have to do something to make ourselves right, we have to do something to make God love us more when in the economy of God – how good and how bad we are – it does not change God’s love for us.  
 
 
Kirk Franklin 2015
Kirk Franklin
It’s very hard for us as humans to understand that truth, so as humans we create the system that is now defined as religion to make us feel like we’re getting better, that we’re doing good. It started with the Pharisees. Man has always tried to do things to make himself like God. People have become tired.  It’s almost as if you’re drowning in a lake and I jump out of my car and into the water to save you from drowning, you would probably, for the rest or your life hug me and show me love, correct?
 
 
Christopher Heron: Yes.
 
 
Kirk Franklin: You would probably for the rest of your life be forever grateful for what I did because you will never forget that I jumped into the lake and saved you from drowning, correct?
 
 
Christopher Heron: Yes.
 
 
Kirk Franklin: Now, if I drove by the same lake and you were drowning but I stayed on the side of the lake and went, “Hey, kick harder. Put your back into it and swim this way.  Breathe like this.’  If I just did that but never jumped into the lake to save you, you wouldn’t appreciate that would you?
 
 
Christopher Heron: You’re absolutely right.
 
 
Kirk Franklin: That’s what religion does.  Religion stands on the side of the lake and tells you what to do, but Jesus jumped into the lake and saved you.
 
 
Christopher Heron: Okay.  I get the analogy.  But I must say, Kirk, saints in my circle were alarmed by just the title of the album, not with all that information. Not the context but the title you picked because many saints take pride in their association with their religion, not as Christians but as Baptists, or as C.O.G.I.C., or as Apostolics.  It’s a part of people’s identities, not to just be affiliated with God but being a part of that social and cultural ceremony.  So I’ve got to ask you, was it a little controversial in your eyes when you said Losing My Religion?  Because you’re asking people to forget about the fact that they had their babies baptized in those churches, or forget that they had their parents had funerals in those churches.
 
 
Kirk Franklin: I appreciate your honesty while at the same time I have much respect for the men and women that are a part of these traditional institutions, but at the same time none of us can deny that every institution that you named over the last decade has experienced a decline.
 
 
Christopher Heron: Yes, that’s true.
 
 
Kirk Franklin 2015
Kirk Franklin
Kirk Franklin: And basically that’s the end of that conversation.
 
 
Christopher Heron: Okay. Now Losing My Religion comes nearly 5 years after the release of ‘Hello Fear’.  That’s quite some time.
 
 
Kirk Franklin: Four years and nine months.
 
 
Christopher Heron: Why the layoff?  Was it your TV obligations to SUNDAY BEST, the AMERICAN BIBLE CHALLENGE, producing albums for your artists on Fo Yo Soul Records or were you just working on your latest album?
 
 
Kirk Franklin: It’s really all of the above but to add a little bit more transparency, it was also a sense of fear which was very deeply rooted in pride. The  Hello Fear album was such a successful album. I Smile was such a successful song that you could become very carnal and worry if you can you do that again.  You wonder if you can repeat that type of success. You can go in your corner and suddenly you look up and it’s four years and nine months later.
 
 
Christopher Heron: Wow!
 
 
Kirk Franklin: I had to be very honest with God about that, I had to be clean about it, I had to confess that it was sin and had to confess to the Lord my fear, because most artists by nature have insecure dreams. I’m not insecure enough to admit that I’m insecure.  And so the applause and acceptance that people give you can become a very safe place to rest in.  You sometimes find yourself getting lost in it, and so I had to confess all of that and I had to acknowledge all that before the Lord. All of that ended up becoming these incredible songs or this incredible project that He was so kind to give me. I can’t tell you how blown away I am by this body of work that He’s given me in Losing My Religion.
 
 
Christopher Heron: Let me go on record and say I love the first single, Wanna Be Happy which reminds me of your break out single, I Smile.  I love the urban, funky and fabulous track, Over, and I am really taken aback by the awesome worship song with Tamela MannTasha Cobbs and Sarah DeVaughnMy World Needs You.  What’s your favorite track on the album?
 
 
Kirk Franklin: That’s an incredible song, isn’t it?
 
 
Christopher Heron: It’s awesome, just beautiful.
 
 
Kirk Franklin: To be honest with you what I enjoy most about this album is that this album flows like a movie.  When I listen to the whole album, it sounds like a soundtrack.  So because of that, the album has a very cohesive feel to it which makes me smile and feel very good. They all kind of share the same story.
 
 
Christopher Heron: I will conclude by asking you one final question.  At this stage in your career, with the door wide open for you to artistically express yourself, what type of impact were you looking to make with this particular album?  What type of message, what type of impression do you want to leave with the listeners who listen and experience Losing My Religion?
 
 
Kirk Franklin: That’s a great question.  I just want to do the music and let the people define it how they want to define it because it’s God’s music and because it’s His music I have to trust Him to be able to write on people’s hearts the narratives that He wants to leave with them because that’s really not my job to do.  My assignment is to be a pen and to really try to work hard on being the best in that process. I just pray that I’ve done a good job.
 
 
For info, music, booking, tour dates and future projects, visit Kirk’s official online page @ www.kirkfranklin.com.

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