By Renee Wallace:: EEW Magazine News/Entertainment
In a recent conversation with House of Blues, which he’s partnering with as part of their year-long 20th Anniversary Celebration to infuse new excitement into the music club's traditional Gospel Brunch, Kirk Franklin discussed “being a kid raised on Hip Hop.”
The multi-platinum-selling, Grammy Award-winning gospel performer, ministers to sold-out crowds nowadays. But he remembers his early days, just loving music—especially Hip Hop—and using his own street moniker, “Kid Fresh.”
Franklin recalled, “You know, cause, that was my music, and my street name was ‘Kid Fresh’ and I could—well, maybe that’s a whole ‘nother conversation,” he joked.
“But what I love about Hip Hop is that even though it continues to grow, it’s found its way even in gospel music.”
The iconic artist's name is now officially a part of the rebranded "House of Blues Gospel Brunch."
It is newly called “Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Brunch at House of Blues.”
“And I think even right now, even in the 21st century it’s beautiful to see strong artists, wonderful artists I love, [like Christian rapper] Lecrae," mused Franklin.
Even though the writer of crossover hits like, Stomp, Why We Sing, Looking for You, and most recently, his 2012 Hello Fear album, which won two Grammy’s, loved aggressive, street-banging Hip Hop as a young man, he found his place tapping the keys of an old piano.
“When I was four, I was adopted by a 64-year-old widow. We didn’t have a lot of money and she would recycle newspapers and cans from the neighbors to pay for my piano lessons,” he shared.
“And something just happened. Something just connected. We had a little small piano in the front of the house and I just remember taking old R&B and Pop songs, and making them into Gospel songs.”
Everyone from Elton John to Michael Jackson tickled Franklin’s fancy as he tickled the ivory, playing for his friends.
Although he never fully indulged his love of Hip Hop like some full-fledged Christian rappers, Franklin has, on many occasions, explored urban interpretations.
of the edgiest versions of his music, in fact, were originally shunned by the church for being “too worldly,” which is why he draws comparisons between his life and that of Thomas Dorsey's, known as the “father of black gospel music.”
“I’m quite sure that’s how Thomas Dorsey felt when he was a young boy, when he was thinking about music, and when he was playing in the clubs,” Franklin said.
“And he didn’t know his music was gonna reach and even transition to gospel music, because it had so much of a club sound, that even the people at church didn’t even want to hear his music at first.”
He added, “I can understand how Thomas felt, because, that’s how I felt as a little kid.”
Now, the successful artist, who has found his place and carved out his own niche, is paving the way for a new generation and enjoying the continuing evolution of gospel music.
“As a gospel artist, I’ve seen the genre grow by leaps and bounds,” he reflected. “But I’m even more excited to see that it has a mainstream place to be celebrated in the House of Blues.”