Black Music Innovators: Kirk Franklin

It takes true courage and perseverance to deliver a message that you hope will touch hearts, minds and souls through unconventional means. From the moment he delivered the bass heavy and radio friendly “Stomp” with Salt N’ Pepa’s Cheryl (Salt) and a similar recording “Revolution,” Kirk Franklin redefined the definition of Gospel music and what it stands for in the new millennium. Seventeen years after his debut with “Why We Sing,” there is simply no way to avoid listening to or being touched by at least one Kirk Franklin recording.

First appearing on ‘Kirk Franklin & The Family,’ the now Grammy Award winning voice built his base with classic recordings including “Now Behold The Lamb,” “Melodies From Heaven” and “Silver and Gold,” before reaching out to and later climbing R&B and other charts with “Lean On Me,” a recording featuring R. Kelly, Mary J Blige, Bono (U2), and Crystal Lewis, “Looking For You,” “Imagine Me” and in 2007, “Declaration (This Is it)”.

But it is not just Franklin’s music that makes him an innovator that you could say paved the way for music from Mary Mary (“God In Me,” “Shackles”) , Tye Tribbett (“Victory,” “Sinking,” “I Want I All Back,” “No Other Choice”), Marvin Sapp (“Never Would Have Made It,” “Best In Me”), 21:03 (“Time 4 A Change”) and Trin-I-Tee 5:7 (“Holla,” “Listen Here,” “My Body”). The story behind his success, told by Franklin throughout his journey whether through recordings, a sit down with Oprah Winfrey discussing his marriage and sex life, literary releases including ‘The Blueprint: A Plan For Living Above Life’s Storms,’ or even candid words shared with fans through Twitter and other mediums such as Youtube, has been just as important and palatable as his music simply because he has been forthcoming and not afraid to shed light on issues that affect church goers or faith believers as much as those not invested as much in the word.

Today, Kirk Franklin continues to open doors for others as host of BET’s hit reality singing competition ‘Sunday Best’ while pushing forward with meaningful messages in his new book ‘The Blueprint’.

With a discography and list of collaborations that reads like a who’s who in Gospel and R&B including Shirley Caesar, Yolanda Adams, Mary Mary, Richard Smallwood, TobyMac, Donnie McClurkin, Willie Neal Johnson, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Hammond, R. Kelly, Crystal Lewis, Dorinda Clark Cole, J. Moss, Tye Tribbett, Tamela Mann, Marvin Winans, and more, Kirk Franklin is clearly an innovator who has influenced several generations of gospel fans and recording artists and will likely do so for years to come.
—— By: Njai Joszor


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