Sub-genres: Urban, Choral, Hip/Hop
Location: Dallas, Texas
Label: Fo Yo Soul/Gospo Centric/Zomba
My Space Page: http://www.kirkfranklin.com/
Christian label: yes
Category: The Spiritual whats this?
For anyone who follows Gospel or Hip/Hop, this article may seem ridiculous. Introducing you to Kirk Franklin is like introducing you to Barrack Obama. This article is not for you. This article is for all of you indie hipsters, rockers and two-steppers who think Gospel is music for your grandmother. As Kirk proclaimed in the opening of his breakthrough cross over song “Stomp”:
For all of you who think Gospel music has gone too far;
You think we’ve gotten too radical with our message;
Well, I have news for you;
You ain’t heard nothing yet. And
If you don’t know, now you know,
With “Stomp”, Kirk Franklin and God’s Property burst through to the mainstream charts. The song, featuring Cheryl “Salt” James (of Salt-N-Pepa), went heavy rotation on MTV, charted at number 1 on the R&B Singles Airplay chart for two weeks, and even made it into the Billboard’s Top 40. God’s Property from Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation was number 1 on the R&B Albums chart for 5 weeks, number 3 on the Pop charts, and would go on to be certified triple platinum. With 2Pac, Toni Braxton and Dru Hill topping the charts that year it is amazing that this song achieved such mainstream success.
Combing heavy backbeats with the generous use of samples and prominent choral arrangements, Kirk Franklin brought Gospel back to the streets. Before his arrival in 1993, contemporary gospel music leaned toward ‘positive’ messages alluding to Jesus and a righteous walk of faith set to lightly groovin’ tracks. Franklin brought choirs to the hip/hop sound, sampled familiar musical themes from all genre’s and placed Godly messages in the same heavy rotation as other urban pop music.
But “Stomp” was not a starting point for Kirk Franklin; it was just a step in one of the most successful careers we have seen in Gospel music. This musical prodigy, who started playing piano at the age of four and was leading the Mt. Rose Baptist Church adult choir at the age of eleven, released the biggest selling debut Gospel cd of all time, Kirk Franklin & The Family, in 1993. He has released ten other cd’s over the years and has recorded with Mary J. Blige, Bono, Crystal Lewis, Boys II Men, TobyMac, Mary Mary and many, many others. Franklin even hosts his own Gospel, “American Idol-like” talent show, “Sunday’s Best” on BET.
As Kirk Franklin has matured in his life and his marriage, he has began exploring deeper and deeper subject matter, including his own failings. Here in a performance of “Let It Go” he expresses the struggles men, from all walks of life, face trying to be a real man of God while holding onto hurt and pride:
Kirk Franklin is the biggest selling gospel artist in Soundscan history with over 12 million albums sold and over 20 #1 singles on Gospel radio. He is also a highly respected music artist with five Grammy Awards, an American Music Award, 34 Stellar Awards (gospel), 12 Dove Awards, 4 NAACP Awards, two BET Music Awards, and a Soul Train Award to his credit. Reading about Kirk Franklin’s humility and love for God, he would take no credit and give all the awards to God; and meant it.
Kirk Franklin brought God to the mainstream music charts in a very direct and open way. He led a revolution in Gospel music. If you consider yourself well versed in Christian music, you must know Kirk Franklin.
You can also buy his CDs on Amazon: Kirk Franklin and the Family (1993), Whatcha Lookin’ 4 (1996), The Nu Nation Project (1998), The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin (2002), Hero (2005), Songs for the Storm, Vol. 1 (2006), The Fight of My Life(2007)