He has sold over 10 million records. He has three Grammy awards, 33 Stellar awards and nine Dove awards. He is the biggest selling Contemporary artist in soundscan history. Who is this man that has had such a profound impact upon the gospel music industry, while gaining substantial criticism from many of his colleagues and ministries from across the country?
Multi-platinum recording artist Kirk Franklin has made history with his vivacious sound and miraculous style. His phenomenal success and public acknowledgements about past sexual related addictions has raised eyebrows across America. Bound by the Word of God, he has remarkably overcome each difficult situation that has come his way. His latest album, Hero, which features musical guests such as Yolanda Adams, Stevie Wonder, Sheila E, and TobyMac, represents significant spiritual growth.
Known for his down to earth attitude, his ingenious grace, poise, and southern hospitality have notably contributed to his success. We recently sat down with the talented songwriter and discussed his life, homosexuality in the church, his past addiction to pornography and his current tour.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: Youre an ordained minister, a multi-platinum recording artist, a husband, a father, a businessman, and now a new record label CEO; do you find it difficult in balancing roles?
Kirk Franklin: First and foremost, I try to keep what is most important first. I try to surround myself with people around me who know what they are doing. In other words, I try to stay in my lane. Just like with the label, I hired someone who knows how to run a label. Im not trying to run a label. I just try to put people in the right position. When it comes to being a husband and fathering, thats my passion. That is most important to me. That gets a lot of my attention.
AHHA: Since youre debut in 1993, youve probably gone through just as many trials and tribulations as successes and accomplishments. You have had to deal with media criticism, criticism from other ministries, and ministers of the Word. If you could go back to 1993, would you change anything? Do you have any regrets?
Kirk Franklin: I wouldnt change anything boo. I wouldnt change a thing. I have no regrets.
AHHA: How do you handle criticism?
Kirk Franklin: I really dont handle it. I try not to give them any time or attention. I dont try to make people like me. If people dont like what I do or for what I was called to do, then thats their right. They have a right to not like me.
AHHA: Congratulations on your new album, which is certified gold. How is Hero different from your past albums?
Kirk Franklin: Its a different season in my life. Its speaking about where I am now. I personally love the record.
AHHA: Your single Let It Go tells a story. What inspired you to do the song?
Kirk Franklin: Well, in 1999, the idea for the song came to me but I just didnt have a record to put it on. I thought this record would be a good match. The song was inspired by my life – it is basically my life story. Its about things I picked up as young kid and how those habits tried to follow me. It talks about how bitter I was with my father not being there and having a sister with a crack cocaine addition who was in prison. It talks about all of that.
AHHA: Now I know that you have talked about your past pornography addiction for years prior to the Oprah Winfrey Show. But when you did Oprah, it seems like it was even more public than before. Do you ever regret doing the program or was it therapeutic for you to speak about it publicly with her?
Kirk Franklin: Well, when the Oprah show contacted me about my testimony, they had heard that I had been talking about it, especially within the church environment, for the last three or four years. I had been on the cover of Christian magazines with it as part of my testimony. I had always talked about how I got introduced to a lot of things that were not healthy for kids. I took a lot of those things into my teenage years and my twenties, so when they asked to do the program, I was only continuing what I had been doing.
Thats my story and it has helped so many other men. I get so many responses from both men and women about my testimony. There are so many others going through similar situations. Sex is a big problem in marriage and relationships whether its internet pornography that guys are getting into or whether its adultery. Cats just are dipping out on their girl. Theres a lot going on man.
AHHA: Is it still a healing process for you?
Kirk Franklin: Not at all. That is something that was in my past and the Lord took it away. Thats when I started talking about it and telling other men my story. Oh no, not at all. That just shows the power of God and the power of prayer. It shows what God can do when we sincerely ask God to change things in our lives. We have to trust in God that he will do it.
AHHA: How do you feel about homosexuality in the church? [Its being discussed] more and more every day.
Kirk Franklin: We have to stand for whats right. We have to stand for what the Word says and the Word is very clear about homosexuality, adultery, lying, and bigotry. I do think we have not done a good job of ministering to men and women who may be struggling with their sexuality. I think in the church we hear those Adam and Eve sermons, God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Thats cool but that is not helping that person walk through the change. They want to preach against it, but nobody wants to hold that persons hand and walk through the change process with them because we dont want to be called gay. We dont want others to look at us crazy. Therefore, these people die spiritually.
AHHA: Has anybody ever questioned your sexuality?
Kirk Franklin: Well yes, because I was small and I was a church boy. I always had problems.
AHHA: You have had major success and a number of hit records. Your music is uplifting and it makes you feel like you can overcome anything. However, when you did Why We Sing, in 1993, you were dealing with pornography and sexual promiscuity. When you did the hit Stomp in 1997, you were still struggling with pornography. That struggle never came out in your music. Did you feel like you were living a double life?
Kirk Franklin: Well, the music came from God, it didnt come from me. Its almost like how we hear in the Bible how David was a man of heart but he committed adultery. He was a murderer. God has always used men who has had struggles and used them for his Glory. He broke them and used their struggles as testimonies. See, I think the difference is you have somebody like me who has struggles just like any other man in the pulpit or any other man in gospel music, but I didnt like mine. Now because I didnt like mine, I was very open about it. This was something that I was not happy with. I remind you that back in 1993 and 1994 when I did Why We Sing, there was a lot of gospel artists and even preachers that were wilding out. You live in Atlanta! You see it. There is a whole lot going on in the ATL! I didnt like my situation and I wanted to change it. I would do the gospel, and people would get blessed through the music – but I was not getting blessed. It made me feel like a hypocrite.