KIRK FRANKLIN / “Kirk Franklin Mixtape”

This is a short posting for a hulk of musical excellence. kirk franklin 08.jpg Kirk Franklin is surely the most influential gospel artist of the last twenty years. His career can be divided into the nineties and post-nineties. It’s not just a natural division by decades but rather reflective of how his music developed and how he chose to present his music. During the nineties he was working with “The Family”—a grouping of neighborhood friends and associates. Post-nineties he presented himself as a solo artist and producer who worked with nationally known artists, both gospel and secular. All the music in this week’s Mixtape are from the nineties. kirk franklin 05.jpg Kirk Dwayne Franklin born January 26, 1970 in Fort Worth, Texas. In many ways he is a statistic. Kirk was reared by Gertrude Franklin, an aunt who stepped in when Kirk’s teenage mother, 15-year-old Deborah Franklin, was unable to take care of him. He evidenced early musical talent: he was playing piano at 4, had turned down a recording deal at age 7, and at 11 was promoted to choir director at Mt. Rose Baptist Church. Franklin dropped out of high school because of behavior problems and after his girlfriend became pregnant. kirk franklin 19.jpg In short: he was a motherless, fatherless, drop-out, troubled young black male. What saved him was his involvement in the church, which served as both a nurturing ground and platform for his musical talents. kirk franklin 18.jpg In 1992 he founded The Family gospel choir. He signed with Vicki Lataillade who head a fledgling label, Gospo Centric. His debut album Kirk Franklin & The Family was released in 1993. What followed seemed to be an overnight success but it was really the result of years of hard work on the gospel circuit including a few years of leading the DFW Mass Choir at the behest of Milton Bigham. Kirk Franklin & The Family was a huge hit on both the Gospel and the R&B charts. For 42 weeks the album held down the number one spot on the Billboard Gospel charts. All of the albums from the nineties achieved platinum status except for the Christmas album that went gold. kirk franklin 25.jpg By 2008 Kirk Franklin had picked up eight Grammy awards, numerous DOVE awards from the gospel industry, and an NAACP Image Award. The upshot of it all was that Kirk Franklin was the most commercially successful gospel artist of the last twenty years. The ups also had their downs. In the new millennium Franklin found himself facing multiple suits involving contracts and compensation. He also experienced an accidental fall from a stage that resulted in a concussion that threatened to permanently end his career. He also publicly faced an addiction to pornography, which he and his wife, Tammy, successfully fought. kirk franklin 17.jpg What has attracted me to Franklin’s music is it’s range, diversity and excellence. From the very first recording the jazz and other secular influences were evident. By the third album, the hard core funk influences, particularly George Clinton/P-Funk stylings were pushed to the fore. kirk franklin 16.jpg One of Franklin’s signature compositions is “Stomp,” which featured a rap by Cheryl “Salt” James of Salt ‘N Peppa fame. A follow hit was “Lean On Me,” which featured R. Kelly, Mary J. Blige, Crystal Lewis and Bono of U2. As was to be expected the songs were both widely popular but also were the recipient of strong invective from those who thought these songs were too secular. I am immune to the arguments about the purity (or lack thereof) of the message in Franklin’s music. I heard the carefully crafted harmonies, the synchronicity of the ensemble work, the strong solo voices, and especially the plethora of rhythm elements that include Caribbean rhythms in addition to the more easily identified contemporary elements. kirk franklin 14.jpg I understand the struggles of keeping a large ensemble together. The leader must not only be a master musician but also a strategist, a psychologist, and a business manager. It’s not easy, especially when one considers the consumer and industry pressures to focus on an individual at the expense of the collective. The leader can amass fame and fortune, but most of the group members languish in the gigantic shadows. Regardless of how one evaluates the internal workings of the various choirs that Franklin led and produced in the nineties, what cannot be denied is that they produced stirring and inspirational music. In less than ten full years, Kirk Franklin definitely altered the course of gospel music. In modern music, a decade is a full lifetime. This week’s Mixtape celebrates the first life of Kirk Franklin. Give thanks. —Kalamu ya Salaam Kirk Franklin Mixtape Playlist kirk franklin family cover.jpg From Kirk Franklin & The Family 01 “Why We Sing” 02 “Silver & Gold” 03 “Real Love” 04 “Till We Meet Again” kirk franklin christmas cover.jpg From Kirk Franklin & The Family Christmas 05 “Silent Night” 06 “Go Tell It On The Mountain” 07 “Jesus Is The Reason For The Season” 08 “O Come, All Ye Faithful” kirk franklin lookin 4 cover.jpg From Whatcha' Lookin' 4 09 “Whatcha' Lookin' 4” 10 “Melodies From Heaven” 11 “Conquerors” 12 “Jesus Paid It All” kirk franklin property cover.jpg From God’s Property 13 “Stomp” 14 “My Life Is In Your Hands” 15 “It's Rainin' " 16 “More Than I Can Bear” 17 “Up Above My Head” 18 “Love” 19 “Faith” 20 “You Are The Only One” 21 “The Storm Is Over Now” kirk franklin nu nation cover.jpg From The Nu Nation Project 22 “Interlude - The Verdict” 23 “Revolution” 24 “Lean On Me” 25 “Gonna Be A Lovely Day” 26 “Praise Joint (Remix)” 27 “Interlude - The Car (Stomp)” 28 “If You`ve Been Delivered” 29 “Something About The Name Jesus” 30 “Blessing In The Storm”

This entry was posted on Monday, November 2nd, 2009 at 2:58 am and is filed under Classic. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

10 Responses to “KIRK FRANKLIN / “Kirk Franklin Mixtape””

Qawi Robinson Says:
November 2nd, 2009 at 10:54 am

Thanks Kalamu. This was inspiring for me to listen to on a Monday morning. Musically, it is diverse…but the message is still the same. Traditional Gospel, Soul, Funk, R&B, and even Rock (if you picked up some of his work with DC Talk).

Sounds of Blackness is the only group that has that type of diversity in the same message. Though not achieving the same popularity as Kirk Franklin, Gospel Contemporary music isn’t just Black music anymore. Listen to Martha Munizzi’s work. She’s like the Tina Marie of Contemporary Gospel. 😉

Big E Says:
November 4th, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Not to get of this subject, but if you ever watch Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns” on TNT, the two main characters were singers in Kirk Franklin’s family before their claim to fame. Just a thought. David and Tamala Mann are all over the early album covers.

christin Says:
May 28th, 2010 at 9:38 pm

dear Kirk i love your music and words can’t describe how much your music touches my friends and I’s hearts love you and will pray for you

keith Says:
November 4th, 2010 at 10:06 am

dear Kirk,im from Suriname and want to be a worshipper as you are.i cant tell how much your songs touch my heart.your the best.

esther Says:
January 13th, 2011 at 7:21 am

kirk, you are the only gospel artiste ive listened to with unexpressable inspiration God Bless This Ministry Of Yours.

Shakira Way/Johnson Says:
January 16th, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Thank you for All you do. Dont stop I NEED you and little do some people know they NEED you to,God is saying well done my faithful servant

Sammytane of 9ja Says:
March 26th, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Kirk, i love you to ma bones, your ma mentor. I pray i’ll meet you someday. God bless you daddy.

kirk Says:
May 25th, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Hey watsup kirk I have enjoyed all of ur album but this fear ablum from start to the end if just awesome hey brag stay in carriage and just kno that ur lattershall b greaterthan ur pass stay blessed.

Mark Gerald. Says:
April 27th, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Well done my son says the Lord, keep the Good job. I say thanks for letting know my Jesus, dont be tied the Lord is coming for U.

amere Says:
June 4th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

i allways loved you’re music you prayed and now we are greatful for what you said it’s brought us a understanding to what we need to know about his word and how it brought us a reason to pray for one another i thank you pray my strength in the lord god bless keep the faith

Leave a Reply

| top |