Kirk Franklin: Real Talk

With five Grammy awards, 15 Stellar Awards and one American Music Award to his credit, Kirk Franklin has been an image of complete consistency in his illustrious career.  He has worked with the biggest names in the industry, including Bono, Mary J. Blige and the legendary Stevie Wonder. Kirk’s voice and energetic songs of worship have been heard all around the world, and his face is easily recognizable all over the country. One can bet that you are thinking that all of these great accomplishments have gone to his head. Think again.While Kirk recognizes that his talents have carried him a long way, he refuses to be anything but humble, unpretentious and caring. His sole purpose is to let every listener know that no matter how many miles he has traveled or how many dollars he has earned, he is still fighting the same battles as everyone else. In a brief conversation, Franklin exposes his soul and offers a gem or two on how life and success must be appreciated.  On the meaning behind his recent album, The Fight of My Life…I am just looking at the climate of the culture right now, man. It seems like this is what everybody is doing right now. It seems like everybody is fighting for their lives. Cats’ homes are being foreclosed on; the anti-depressant pill market…our country is the biggest selling prescribed medication nation [in the world]. Cats are fighting for their marriages and for their kids. They are fighting to believe in the Lord, even though some crazy things are happening in the pulpit this year. So, what I wanted to let cats know is that I am in the fight with them; I am in the battle with them. I got three cats in my family that are on drugs, and I got other family members that are creating pains and hurts, out there wildin’ out. I am trying to fight for my peace of mind and fight for my faith and sanity. I just wanted to let people know that I got my gloves on with them. I am in a different stage of my life. [I have] the same motives and the same heart, but I am just trying to be the pen while God is the poet. It is not up to the pen to determine what is going to be said. The pen is in the hands of the writer.  On his show, BET’s Sunday’s Best...They approached me about a year or so ago, and I was kind of reluctant because gospel music sometimes gets a little chitterling deal. I did not really know how serious they were going to be about making strong production. The more that they tried to impress me and convince me they were going to put their best foot forward, the more comfortable I became. I gave it a chance, and here it is. I get great feedback. Folks will stop me in the airport and tell me who they think is going to win and they ask me who I think is going to win. It has been very interesting, man.  On keeping humble…You have to have an accountability team around you all the time to remind that you are not anything without the Lord. You have to change your definition of what success is. We are not supposed [to have] the same mindset as the world. For example, me and my wife are going to be married twelve years in January. That is success. My kids knowing me and loving me is success. We have to change the definition.On going through trials and tribulations…What I tell people is that when a coach has a player that they see great potential in, they make that player stay later. When everybody else leaves, they make that player stay on the court or on the field. They even ask that player to come in early. They will even add an extra plate of weights on the bench. That stuff hurts. It is hurtful to the body of that athlete. It is hurtful to the muscles of that athlete and it is easy for that athlete to feel like the coach is picking on him. But, what the coach is doing is making an investment. What he is doing is bringing out the greatness that he sees. The only way that he can bring that greatness out is to leave you out on that field longer. We got to remember that we see where we are, but God sees what we shall be. So, He has got to use His divine plan to get that out of us.  On living a holy life…You cannot be cultural Christians. You know how our black folks have family picnics, barbeques and family reunions? That is because it is apart of our culture. This has to be apart of your DNA. In order for that to happen, there has to be a love connection more than a religious connection.  On offering advice to troubled youth…What I would say is that God does not always explain what He is doing while He is doing it. Tragedy can make a person either better or bitter. You have to know that what God puts inside of us, He will never take away; it is the seed of choice. We have the freedom to respond godly to the circumstances that come our way, or respond in another way and totally turn our backs from the faith. That is something that no one can create inside of a person. That is something that a person has to have inside of them that a church or preacher can put there. You can have two kids raised in the same house and get the same knowledge and teaching. But sometimes, one child can go in one direction and the other child can go in a whole other direction. You cannot put inside of a person the [necessary] appetite. No matter how good Mama’s food is, she cannot make you hungry. So, what I would tell someone is that no matter what has happened to you, you have the right to choose how you are going to respond.

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