Tony Cummings reports on the gospel superstar KIRK FRANKLIN
Kirk Franklin is back with another chart topper. His new single "Love Theory" has quickly soared to number one on Billboard's Hot Gospel Songs chart. It's a typically life-affirming song with lyrics that go "How can it be/That you love the most unlovable part of me/Of me/How did you see/Your life was the only gift I'll ever need/To be free/It's amazin' with you/I win even if I lose/Everything's working for my good for always/(Come on)/He saves the day (wooo)/He will come through/He won't go/That's not what superheroes do (hallelujah)/No greater love makes my heart leap/All I wanna do is make you proud of me."
To someone who's only now catching up with the songwriter/producer, it's quite difficult to explain precisely what Franklin does. In 2017, the New Yorker magazine wrote, "Franklin, 46, is the most successful contemporary gospel artist of his generation, but he isn't a singer. He plays the piano, but only intermittently onstage, more to contribute to the pageantry than to show off his modest chops. Above all, he is a songwriter, but in performance and on his albums his role more closely resembles that of a stock character in hip-hop: the hype man. The best hype men - Flavor Flav, Spliff Star, the early Sean (P. Diddy) Combs - hop around onstage, slightly behind and to the side of the lead emcee, addressing the microphone in order to ad-lib or to reinforce punch lines as they rumble by. But a hype man is, by definition, a sidekick, and while most of the sound in Franklin's music comes from elsewhere - usually, a band and an ensemble of singers - he is always and unquestionably the locus of its energy and intention.
"For more than 25 years, Franklin has been a trailblazer, writing, producing and performing uplifting music which is loved by Christian and secular audiences alike. His body of work has garnered 12 Grammy Awards, 43 Stellar Awards, nine NAACP Image Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, three BET Awards, and an American Music Award, among other honours.
"Since the release of his last album, the Grammy Award-winning 'Losing My Religion', in 2015, Franklin has been busy touring, cultivating talent through his record label, Fo Yo Soul Recordings, and collaborating with a diverse array of other artists, including Chance The Rapper, Kanye West, Ledisi, Mandisa, Marvin Sapp, Tamela Mann and Tori Kelly. In 2018, he produced Kelly's entire 'Hiding Place' album, for which he recently received his 23rd Grammy nomination. Franklin also launched the Exodus Music & Arts Festival in partnership with Live Nation Urban last year. And he will host and headline the second annual Exodus Fest on 26th May, 2019 in Irving, Texas.
"In addition to releasing 'Love Theory' and finishing up his forthcoming 13th studio album, Franklin is preparing to host on the 34th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards on 29th March 2019."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.