AHHA: You have stretched the boundaries of gospel by adding elements of Hip-Hop and R&B, but the lyrical content has always been gospel. Was it one of your goals to change the traditional face of gospel?
Kirk Franklin: No, I was just doing what the Lord called me to do. I was doing what was in my heart to do. I wasnt trying to change anything and I wasnt trying to be different.
AHHA: You did a lot of charity work after Hurricane Katrina. How did Hurricane Katrina affect you personally?
Kirk Franklin: It made me mad. Matter of fact, it pist me off. How can we live in one of the most powerful countries in the world and we cant even fix a wall? It was a very frustrating thing to see happen, especially to people of color down in New Orleans.
AHHA: What are your thoughts on the state of the Black church today?
Kirk Franklin: I think the jury is still out for me. Just because we are getting bigger does not mean we are getting better. The jury is still out. I am still waiting to see.
AHHA: Your Hero Tour just kicked off, and it features Mary Mary. Tell us about the tour – what can we expect?
Kirk Franklin: The tour is incredible. The biggest problem now is that it is too long, because we have too much music. We are trying to cut it down now, but its a great tour. Mary Mary is doing incredible. We have a new artist on the tour called Da T.R.U.T.H. Hes opening up and its great. Its wonderful.
AHHA: Some of your music so upbeat and has featured Hip-Hop artists. How do you feel about people dancing maybe suggestively to your music? Just the same, how do you feel about your music being played in clubs?
Kirk Franklin: I really cant change how they dance, nor can I change where they play it. My prayer is that the message is so powerful and has Christ in it so much, that even in the midst of them playing it, they will hear Him in it.
AHHA: How is the Kirk Franklin today different from the Kirk Franklin 10 years ago?
Kirk Franklin: My appetite for Christ is deeper.
AHHA: There are a million men in America who have a deep love God and His Word. They believe in the things that He can do for you and some of them are heavily involved in the Church but they are dealing with sexual promiscuity, sex before marriage, and pornography. What advice would you like to give them?
Kirk Franklin: I would just tell them that they have no idea how much of a cancer that can be and how dangerous it is. These are things that you can carry into your marriages and into your relationships. It is very important to have friends and people around you that are trying to be the same way that you are and that are trying to go the same places that you are.
AHHA: You are now head of your own entertainment venture, Fo Yo Soul Entertainment, Inc. What is your vision for your company?
Kirk Franklin: We want to be a voice in the culture. There are a lot of people who love the philosophy of Hip-Hop and the music of Hip-Hop, but we dont like the images or the message. We are striving to live for a higher life and a deeper relationship with the Lord. Fo Yo Soul wants to create products, whether its television, music, or anything that can service that community who are now believers.
AHHA: How do you deal about critics who capitalize on your absence vocally from your albums? You dont sing, but you do albums.
Kirk Franklin: Its weird right. Its crazy. Sometimes I wonder myself, How in the world did I get here? How does this dude do records and cant sing? I think that what I do is actually whats done in gospel music. You know the choir director usually leads the congregation through a song. Its not like the worship. Somehow my direction started to sound very clubbish and somewhat of a DJ, but I was not intentionally doing that. I was just trying to move the church!
AHHA: Are there any R&B and Hip-Hop artists today that you would like to work with?
Kirk Franklin: Well, there are a lot of Hip-Hop artists that I think are talented and creative, but their philosophy on life, their mission statement, and how they speak about women, sex, and materialism is something I cant surround myself with. I think it is unfortunate, because I do think some of them are talented.
AHHA: Well, how do you feel about state of Hip-Hop today?
Kirk Franklin: I am very disappointed in Hip-Hop because I was raised with her. When she was a baby, I was a baby too. We went to daycare together. We went to the prom together. Shes changed.
AHHA: What artists have actually had an influence upon you?
Kirk Franklin: Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Thomas Whitfield, and the early Hip-Hop such as Eric B and Rakim. When God saved me, he didnt take my swagger. He just continued to use those resources and those references.
AHHA: What type of music do you listen to?
Kirk Franklin: I listen to everything. I love the 80s.
AHHA: How Do Alligators Praise the Lord?
Kirk Franklin: Ah man! They praise the Lord with the trumpet and ..all the other little critters..
AHHA: What inspired you to do a childrens book?
Kirk Franklin: Well, they approached me about doing a childrens book and I thought it was cute to do because I have kids. I incorporated my kids in the process and it was fun. My kids had fun too.
AHHA: What inspired you to do your biography, Kirk Franklin, Church Boy: My Music and My Life?
Kirk Franklin: I was approached. When I do most of the stuff like that, I am usually approached about doing it. I accepted it. I thought it was a good idea.
AHHA: How do you deal with being away from your family for long periods of time when you are touring and working?
Kirk Franklin: Well, we have a one week and a half rule. We dont go without seeing each other no longer than a week and a half.
AHHA: You were caught up in some lawsuits with Gods Property and The Family. Can you enlighten us on that?
Kirk Franklin: Sure. Well, neither one of the suits went to court, but I am not saying that to make myself look good. I think gospel music wasnt built for worldly success. When a world of success comes in, I think it starts making things grey. When two people both start out struggling and one benefits more than the other person, it gets hard on that relationship. Gods Property blew up real quick before The Family. Even though people knew the Family, Gods Property was huge. The Family felt like they were in the shadow.
At that time, if you have the right person in your ear telling you that you can sue for this or that, it can get to you. Unfortunately, when people are hurt, they do things. The Gods Property lawsuit was really about Gods Property and the record label, and because I took them to the label, they felt like I had something to do with them not being treated right by the label. But at the same time, I was spending a lot of my time trying to defend myself when it comes to stuff like that. God has always worked out in my defense. When things get big, things get ugly. Unfortunately, the group broke up and we are not together anymore.
I have learned that everyone is not built for the vehicle. Its different when you are all in a small church singing for the Lord than when you are on BET, MTV, and the Grammys. Its another game and everyone is not built for that transition. However, they are not bad people. They are great people. God gave me the gift of a songwriter and in the business, a songwriter will get paid before anybody else gets paid. And if you are not taught that, you will get real bitter.
AHHA: Is there anything else that would like to say to your fans?
Kirk Franklin: No, I just thank you for allowing me talk to you so late, and thank you guys for the interview. Thank you so much.