No other act has defined what it means to be a Gospel superstar quite like Kirk Franklin.
Despite a nearly 30 year career that boasts unrivaled accolades and mainstream success in the genre, the Grammy-winner – just weeks shy of his 50th birthday – is at a turning point in his career and personal life. Professionally, he’s charged with maintaining a presence of leadership in the Gospel realm amidst a new generation of performers who have ultimately built brands on the very sonic blueprint he drafted. Personally, he exclusively told That Grape Juice, he’s on a quest of fulfillment to ensure life at home mirrors his wins on stage.
An insightful sit down indeed, look inside to read our chat with Franklin as he discussed his latest chart-topping project, those pesky Plies comparisons, and so much more:
That Grape Juice: First, congratulations on yet another chart-topping album with your latest effort, ‘Long Live Love.’ With over 25 years in the game, how does it feel to still be receiving that kind of love?
Kirk: I am really appreciative, but I also think that because I’m still so busy grinding I don’t really get a chance to kind of bathe in it. There’s still so much work to do.
That Grape Juice: When you look back over your storied career, what’s changed in your creative process?
Kirk: I’m more intentional about really trying to tap into what’s happening around me, what permeates culture, and about being able to always find a theological response to those needs.
I want to be able to still make it saucy and swaggy, so that it can complement the essence of who we are as people of color, but doesn’t apologize for its Christian content.
That Grape Juice: We’ve seen you in a number of interviews this year unapologetically tackling some taboo topics your counterparts wouldn’t dare touch. What encourages you to be so brave?
Kirk: When it comes to my personal life, it is very therapeutic for me to be able to communicate who I am. Next, [being so open] humanizes the Christian faith. The Christian faith has become a symbol of hypocrisy, but it is also a place of recovery. I think when the more those of us in [the Christian faith] begin to be transparent about our own areas of flaw it makes others want to come see what the medicine is.
That Grape Juice: As it relates to the world at large, do you draw from that same source of inspiration?
Kirk: In the broader perspective, the reason I try to communicate on social issues is because I want people to be able to see that there is a viability to Christianity. [Christians] have a responsibility to be able to weigh in on topics that may not always be the most comfortable, but are necessary for the relevance of Christianity in today’s society.
That Grape Juice: Now, as with many interviews, we’ve received five questions from our readers for you. Are you ready for That Grape Juice‘s ‘Five From Fans’?
Kirk: I sure hope so!
- That Grape Juice #1: Kirk Franklin does not age. What’s his secret for remaining so youthful?
Kirk: That is hilarious. Well one thing, I cut back on all my sugar. Then, I do about 16 to 20 miles a week of cardio and I’m at the gym about three or four times a week.
- That Grape Juice #2: Would you ever do a duet with Plies?
Kirk: I don’t know if Plies can keep up (laughs).
- That Grape Juice #3: Who gets you star struck?
Kirk: I think I’m a groupie of Gospel artists. I love Gospel artists. There is no bigger fan of the genre than me, so when I go to events and see Gospel artists, old, young, or new, I just get lit.
- That Grape Juice #4: What is Kirk Franklin’s least favorite Kirk Franklin song?
Kirk: There’s been quite a few, but you haven’t heard them. If they were wack, they never even made an album.
- That Grape Juice #5: As Gospel enthusiasts are excited about Lifetime’s forthcoming biopic of The Clark Sisters (click here to watch the trailer), who would you consider casting to tell your life story on film or reality TV?
Kirk: We’ll see. We’ll see, that’s all I got for you right now.
[Editor’s note: Click here to read the formal announcement of Franklin’s biopic.]
That Grape Juice: Thanks for doing that. You are the first Gospel artist to reach Platinum sales, the first Gospel artist on MTV, the first Gospel artist with a No. 1 pop hit, and so much more. At this stage in your career, what else do you want to be the first to do?
Kirk: I want to be the first man to win in my private life. I think that a lot of times some of the challenges with western cultural Christianity is that it can be a lot of smoke and mirrors, but I don’t want to make new hit songs and while you’re interviewing my private life sucks.