Kirk Franklin and the Evolution of Gospel Music

Who is Kirk Franklin?

Kirk Dwayne Franklin was born January 26, 1970  in Fort Worth Texas. Abandoned by his mother and never knowing his father, Franklin was raised by his Aunt Gertrude who was a very religious woman. She maintained a strict Baptist household which framed his personality and lifestyle. When he was four years old, his aunt found a way to pay for his piano lessons which was by collecting aluminum cans. He was a natural-born musician who could sight-read and play music easily. At the age of seven, he received his first contract offer in which his aunt immediately shut down. By 11, he lead the Mt. Rose Baptist Church adult choir located near Dallas. Following a period of teenage rebellion, Franklin returned to the church and began to study music with Jewell Kelly & the Singing Chaparrals at Oscar Dean Wyatt High School. In 1992, Franklin formed the Family, which was a choir composed of 17 members(friends and associates). The group debuted with the 1993 Kirk Franklin & the Family album, after signing with GospoCentric label. In 1995, Kirk Franklin & the Family Christmas  appeared yet it was his 1996 release, Whatcha Lookin’ 4.

What has he done for the world of Gospel?

In 1992, Franklin formed the Family, which was a choir composed of 17 members(friends and associates). The group debuted with the 1993 Kirk Franklin & the Family album, after signing with GospoCentric label. In 1995, Kirk Franklin & the Family Christmas  appeared yet it was his release, Whatcha Lookin’ 4 that set his stardom. The album reached 23 on the Billboard 200 and earned him him first Grammy. Award for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album. In 1997, Franklin collaborated with the Dallas-based choir, God’s Property on the album God’s Property from Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation. This gained even greater success and topped the gospel and R&B charts, reaching No. 3 on the Pop chart and winning a Grammy for Best Gospel Choir or Chorus Album. In 1998, The Nu Nation Project was released and included the Family, God’s Property, Mary J. Blige, R. Kelly, and One Nation Crew, the newest choir at the time, led by Franklin himself. This was his final album with the family. Franklin spent most of his time touring during 2011 and 2012. In 2015, he formed his own record label, Fo Yo Soul. Wanna Be Happy? a pre-album single, was awarded Best Gospel Performance/Song. The following year, the entire album had been awarded Best Gospel Album. During the same ceremony, he had been awarded another Best Gospel Performance/Song Award for writing Tamela Mann’s “God Provides.” He was also up for 2 rap awards for his featured role in Kanye West’s Ultralight Beam. He came back in 2018 and launched the Exodus Music & Arts Festival in Dallas. In 2019, he received his 7th top 20 pop LP for Long live Love. From this he received his 14th and 15th trophies: Best Gospel Performance/Song for “Love Theory” and Best Gospel Album.

Conclusion

Kirk Franklin is regarded as one of the most influential artists in the world of Gospel. He brought light to many talented artists by displaying their gifts for the benefit of themselves. A lot of the pieces written by Franklin aren’t sung by him as he leaves that to some of the best gospel singers in the game. Doing so is an honor for him which is part of the reason why he has gained such a positive narrative over the years. He is appreciated for the many contributions that he’s made to not only gospel music but also the lives of its listeners. 

Listen to some of his well known hits!

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