Kirk Franklin has been on a journey filled with unexpected twists and turnsâ€”the journey called â€œlife.â€ From his humble beginnings as a child who was raised by an older aunt to the heady, multi-platinum success of the record industry, Kirk\’s life has been a myriad of high highs and low lows. The highs included becoming one of the most popular and successful Gospel artists in history; the lows witnessed devastating professional and personal disappointments from deals that didn\’t pan out, to a public admission of addiction to pornography.
But Franklin is not just a conqueror, he is an overcomer. His testimony was the subject of the book â€œChurch Boy: My Music & My Lifeâ€ which was released in 1998. Now comes a book to help others conquer and overcome their challenges. The Blueprint: A Plan for Living Above Life\’s Storms (Release date: May 18, 2010). Gospel Today spoke with Kirk recently about his evolution and the new book.
Here\’s what Kirk had to sayâ€¦
Over the past 15 to 20 years, I\’ve been trying to be obedient to whatever process I saw God\’s hand working out in me no matter how painful or embarrassing. It\’s not easy because it\’s a process that I didn\’t have control over.
I\’ve had lots of experiences in my life and I hope it has resulted in me giving God the â€œpenâ€ and letting Him â€œwriteâ€ the script for my life, and not trying to tell Him how the climax of the story should be or how the ending should go.
I remember back in 2001. I did a couple projects (CDs) that didn\’t do well, and I was going through some legal battles and I wasn\’t getting many dates [bookings]. I\’ll never forget the day that John P. Kee called me and asked, â€œHey! What\’ve you been up to? I haven\’t been seeing you. What\’s been going on?â€ And the temptation was to make up some- thing, because not being busy was like not being â€˜used\’ [by God]; and that\’s just such a lie; because there are times when God just has us on the â€œother sideâ€ of the mountain, just to be quiet for a while. But I knew that how I responded to John would show the Lord if I had really learned the lesson. So I told him, â€œMan, you know what? I haven\’t been doing anything.â€ And that was very hard for me. It was hard because I knew how that lookedâ€” like it was a wrap! But I just knew that how I responded was just a test to show God whether I was learning what I was supposed to.
What do you say to those young artists who are struggling to get their careers going?
People out here in the music industry trying to make it have got to submit and surrender and be obedient to those people that they know God has put in their life. They have to be accountable; that\’s the hardest thing. A lot of artists want to hear preachers preach, but they don\’t want to be pastored.
My book, Blueprint talks about how Christians are supposed to be on God\’s agenda. We are supposed to fall in line with God\’s order. The book is based on a conservative, evangelical approach to Scripture; it\’s not based on what\’s happening socially. It\’s about how Scripture is applied to every area of our lives no matter if we have â€œswagâ€ or if we\’re from the projects or if we\’re from the suburbs; or whether we\’re single or married.
God has given us a â€œblueprintâ€ for every area of life and we don\’t need to add anything or take anything away from it, we just need to â€œrightly divide it.â€ Whenever, we do that, it will make sense to every area of life.
It\’s important that we speak life into each other and into our children. I spent most of my life never dreaming., I never dreamed I\’d be doing what I\’m doing now, and the reason was that there was never any â€œpractice dreaming.â€ I never knew that some things were possible because it was never spoken into me. My kids think that they can swing from the moon because my wife (Tammy) and I are always reminding them of the possibilities.
For people who are out there and are traumatized by life, I feel like they need to be part of the Church. That\’s what the Church is for! The New Testament Church is supposed to be a community; a reference point to speak to realistic issues and be a support system. That\’s why, we allâ€”single people, married people, young and oldâ€”need to be part of the Church. There are still churches that are meeting needs. We just have to get to the place where we do our homework and find a church that will meet our needs; one that has the infrastructure that will help us through our situations. It doesn\’t matter so much if the music isn\’t that great or the pastor isn\’t the best â€œwhooper,â€ but if that church is helping to grow you up in the Word, then you need to go there.
I don\’t know what\’s next for meâ€¦and I think that\’s good. I\’m just being led [by God]. I\’m a â€œsoccer dadâ€! When I see people like Donnie (McClurkin), Smokie (Norful) Marvin (Sapp) and Hezekiah (Walker)â€”who are all artists that have become pastors, that\’s not me. I\’m not fighting back a passion to be a pastor. I\’m honest about that. I speak or write a book when I\’m invited to.
As it relates to my label (Fo Yo Soul Entertainment), we started the label right in the midst of the season where everything was being cut back economically, so we\’ve been focusing more on non-musical streams of revenue, whether TV or movies. Right now, I\’m putting together a TV idea, a â€œTouched by An Angelâ€ meets â€œNew York Undercoverâ€ type concept. I\’m working on some other projects as well.
There are a lot of things that we can say about the down- turn in the Gospel industry. There\’s a decline in church attendance in society overall. People are changing their views about faith, and I think that\’s affecting music sales. We\’ve also had some moral challenges in our industry, and I think that has affected whether people â€œconnectâ€ with our music; even though we\’re all flawed people.
Overall, the whole music industry is being impacted. Music is something that has become more disposable. When you look and see phone companies that are giving away free downloads of songs to sell a phone; what they\’re saying is that the phone is more valuable than the songs. It\’s just the times we live in.
But I still have a passion to do musicâ€”even in the midst of all the challenges and changes, I\’m just striving to make sure that I\’m not doing it in ways that are contaminated. I don\’t want to do another album because it\’s time to do one. I\’m trying to make sure that my motives are right and that I\’m on God\’s agenda.