Kirk Franklin talks music, Texas roots

Kirk Franklin gestures as he performs at the BET Awards on Sunday, June 23, 2019, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

It has been more than two decades since Kirk Franklin stepped onto the scene, revolutionizing gospel music by mixing contemporary urban sounds into his songs of praise. And filled with seemingly endless energy, the Fort Worth native shows no signs of slowing down. 

With a new season of “Sunday Best” already underway on BET, the singer is kicking off his “Long Live Love” tour to promote his new album, which stops in Houston on July 12. We caught up with Franklin to talk about his music, his Texas roots and what lies ahead. 

Defender: What can your fans expect at your Houston show?

Kirk Franklin:I’m gonna give them every Kirk Franklin that they ever came to love. I’m going to give them the S-Curl Kirk Franklin. The cross color, Karl Kanai, Bobby Brown shoulder pads and jacket Kirk Franklin. And then I’m going to give them the Kirk before he got his Invisalign so I can smile Kirk Franklin. I’m going to give them every era of my career plus the new music. I want people to know that it’s going to be worth their while. It’s going to be an amazing time.

Defender: Tell us about your new album, “Long Live Love,” and “Love Theory,” which is ths jubilant, optimistic song, is the hit single.

Franklin: It just came out. I’m very excited to let people know about it. So, that’s what I’m going to be doing. I’m going to be doing new music off that. The album itself shows how it is very difficult to have a conversation about love and not include the creator and curator of love, which is God himself, and I think that you know as we continue to push to be a postmodern society that lives on individual idealism, it is very easy for the less fortunate to be left out, the marginalized to be forgotten. And so when we are reminded that God loves us with our light skin and with our black skin, it’s easier to have the power to love people who are not always lovable, instead of just loving people within our own circle of influence or people who are like us. Because it’s a civil society, and it’s very difficult for us to continue if we don’t learn how to love people that are different than we are.

Defender: You seem to have found the perfect balance of contemporary music infusing it into gospel. Is that something that you’d always set out to do? 

Franklin:I’ve always down what has come natural for me to do and so, that was very natural for me to do. There wasn’t that much thought to do it. You know? Something that was very organic. I love music.

Defender: We’re excited about your return  to “Sunday Best.” What did you like most abut that show? 

Franklin:More than anything, I just love the genre as a platform for people to be able to see it. Because this is the genre that people don’t get a chance to see this music happening in real time. You know, gone are the days of Bobby Jones and some of the other platforms there were on television that could be part of people’s weekly diet of the genre. But now, a lot of those medias are gone it’s very exciting to see some of it come back because it is so needed for people to see a genre that they love and be able to see it doing these incredible things and giving people the platform and filling the music and filling the spirit and so that’s something that we enjoy and be able to give them.

Defender: Did you grow up in the church? Has your faith always been a part of who you are?

Franklin: Yes. Yes, Yes. I was born and raised in the church. I was adopted when I was four  by a sixty-four year old woman who raised me in church and so, that’s what I did. That was the narrative of my life. She recycled cans and newspapers to pay for my piano lessons and so, that gave me my beginning. 

Defender: What is next for Kirk Franklin? 

Franklin:I have no idea. I have no idea. I just pray that I’m a good steward of whatever it is. And I make God proud when I get there.