Kirk Franklin Talks About His New "Gospel Brunch"
Raspy-voiced choir director Kirk Franklin got around his limited vocal ability by channeling ideas through other singers, and repackaging gospel music with mainstream sensibilities. During the '90s the Ft. Worth songwriter put his hype man ad libs on rousing praise anthem hits like "Stomp" and "Revolution," and paved a path for new gospel artists to reach big audiences outside the church.
His latest venture is a regular event called Kirk Franklin's Gospel Brunch, which he curates for House of Blues outlets around the country, including the Sunset Strip. Kicking off this Sunday, Mother's Day, it continues on selected Sundays in May and June, and features a Southern inspired buffet and a performance by artists picked by Franklin. We spoke with him about this venture -- he made it sound well worth the $42 -- as well as issues like his tumultuous childhood and pornography addiction.
How are you bringing your genre-bending approach to the Gospel Brunch?
I think this will expand what I'm trying to do, which is [spread] a message that's more easily expressed through music than the pulpit. So, keeping faith-based content in the marketplace. [We're] taking their brunch, that's happened over the last 20 years, and re-branding it and stirring it up with a new sound in different markets. They done a really great job revamping their brunch and with their presentation; they created video content that the audience can enjoy. We made the live performance more special.
You had kind of a double life for a little while, struggling with pornography and sexual promiscuity while doing gospel music. How does an up and coming gospel artist avoid these pitfalls?
It wasn't necessarily a double life, it was an undisciplined life. It was a life without leadership and direction. It was the life of millions of young black men who are fatherless and don't have male leadership in their lives, who are trying to find out the path of their own. There's going to be a lot of casualties of war when people have to live that way. When young men have to raise themselves, there can be a lot of bad things that can happen. That was my life.
I would tell [up and coming artists] to seek mentors. Seek out people who you can hear, people who you can talk to and ask them for their trust. Reach out to people who you can talk to, who you can listen to, who you can trust.
What about artists (like Tonex) who have burned-out with gospel music?
You heart has to be bigger than the music. It has to be deeper than how you feel about the music. It has to be your own personal choice and relationship on who God is to you and how much will you allow that to be the dictator of your life. And for me, gospel music is not my life -- the God of the gospel is my life. Music is just one of the expressions of my appreciation.