Kirk Franklin

[INTERVIEW] Kirk Franklin Talks New Nationwide Tour, "All the Kings Men"

The gospel music icon speaks exclusively with EBONY on his new tour with Marvin Sapp and Donnie McClurkin, and the fifth season of his hit BET series "Sunday Best"

Kelley L. Carter

by Kelley L. Carter, May 09, 2012

Kirk Franklin

Photo courtesy of Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NAACP Imag


EBONY: That’s the title of your next book. So next month, you come back for the fifth season of BET’s "Sunday Best", as the host. What will we be seeing this season?

KF: First of all, I’m very blown away that the audience keeps growing for the show. Last year, "Sunday Best" was, like, the number three show for African Americans 18-49 and USA Today had us behind "Single Ladies" and "Basketball Wives", and I thought that was pretty cool. I mean, to look at USA Today, and see "Sunday Best" as the number three show behind "Basketball Wives" and "Single Ladies" for a few weeks, coming and going. It just showed me that people want to be inspired. It’s almost like, if you give the little kids in Africa just rice all the time, you know, they’re going to think rice is the best thing in the world until they get some chicken and some steak. And so if urban programming is always going to show our beautiful women fighting each other, and calling each other out of their names, and disrespecting each other, and that’s the only programming that the suits think that our people are going to want to watch, then that’s all they’re going to watch until you put something else on. You know?

EBONY: How does being a part of that show inspire or influence the music that you make?

KF: It’s not necessarily inspiring the music as much as it is just inspiring me. It’s inspiring me to see that people can be introduced to the thing that I love very dear to my heart. This music, this genre is very important to me and it’s very powerful and it’s something that I really, really, really believe in.

EBONY: You took some hits when you first arrived on the scene. Your music—although it was gospel—sounded like what we heard in the club. First time I heard "Why We Sing," it was at a party and was mixed in with R. Kelly’s “Bump ‘n’ Grind.” That also meant your message was getting out in unlikely places …

KF: Yeah, you know, you never get into it for that to happen, so when something like that happens you try to figure out how you feel. I think that the greatest demise to people is pride. You know? And I think that too much absorption of yourself is a very dangerous thing. I don’t think it’s nothing wrong with trying to make sure that your own game, and trying to make sure that you’re executing right and that you are staying current and that you’re making sure that whatever you’re presenting that it’s connecting with people, but after that…you know, I don’t do a lot of reading the billboards and reading the charts and trying to do all that just because I don’t wanna get absorbed with too much of being consumed with myself. I just wanna try to see what people are going through, trying to feel people’s pain. When I see something about somebody listening to my song before they go into heart surgery and, you know, I was playing your music by my mom’s bedside as she was dying or by my son’s bedside while he was dying and at a funeral they played…one more person…I saw on Twitter that somebody played "I Smile" at a funeral and it made everybody [smile]…that’s the kind of stuff that you connect with, but you don’t ever want to get too deep in it, just because you want to make sure that you stay in the position of the pen. You know what I mean? God’s the writer, you’re the pen and you know your role and you play it well.

EBONY: What would you love for the next two decades to look like?

KF: Well, hopefully with this tour and this new relationship with Live Nation, I can be able to usher in the genre at new levels of visual presentations. That’s what I want to be able to do is to be that guy, hopefully, God willing, that can be able to usher in how music looks, on the visual level.

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