June 06, 2013

By Cora Jackson-Fossett

LAWT Religion Editor


The musical genius of recording artist Kirk Franklin headlines the Sunday Best Stage at the BET Experience at L.A. Live on June 30 at 12 noon.

Entitled ‘Kirk Franklin & Friends,’ the concert features Grammy winners Donnie McClurkin and Karen Clark-Sheard along with her daughter, Kierra ‘Kiki’ Sheard of The Sheards.

In addition, rising stars Amber Bullock, Joshua Rogers and Le’Andria Johnson will perform.  All three were past gospel competition winners on BET’s Sunday Best TV show and recently released chart-topping albums.

The L.A. Sentinel will also participate in the BET Experience by presenting ‘A Taste of the Taste of Soul’ that will showcase a wide range of vendors.

“I was excited to be a part of this. It will be an inspirational morning of good music and celebration,” said Franklin, who serves as host and co-executive producer of ‘Sunday Best’ and participates in BET’s annual ‘Celebration of Gospel’ program.

“To me, it’s a great concept that they [BET] are doing, to create a weekend of festivities for people to get a whole taste of the culture of Black entertainment,” he said.

Urging the greater Los Angeles community to attend, Franklin noted, “I think that anytime we, as people of color, can get together and do something positive, that uplifts, a genre of a particular art form that we don’t get to see all the time, then we should celebrate and support it because it’s ours, something that belongs to us. 

“When you look at a lot of art forms, they were originated by our people, for our people, to celebrate our people.  Not only does it make sense, but it can also make dollars. 

“It’s something that will continue to show companies, sponsors and just the culture that entertainment from our people is alive and well and it’s something that can be invested in.”

Investing in gospel music has certainly been fruitful for Franklin, who began his professional recording career in 1992.  Over the years, he’s garnered multiple Dove, Stellar, and BET Awards as well as nine Grammys.

Franklin has also sold-out venues during tours with his choirs and with leading gospel artists such as Fred Hammond, Yolanda Adams, Cece Winans, Trinitee 5:7, TobyMac, Souljahz, and Mary Mary.  Last year, he joined with McClurkin, Marvin Sapp, and Israel Houghton for ‘The King's Men Tour’ that packed concert halls across the country.

Achieving such incredible fame may lead some performers to have elevated opinions of themselves, but Franklin remains humble and focused on Christ. 

“The legacy to the gospel music industry that I hope to leave is that ‘he was a nice guy and he lived what he sang and wrote about. He wasn’t one way in front of the people and another way when nobody was looking.’  I hope that’s what people see,” he said.

Franklin’s legacy will definitely include the tremendous catalog of songs he’s written and performed that are now standards in the Black Church.  Initially, his music was labeled ‘Christian hip hop’ or ‘urban contemporary,’ however Franklin discourages categorizations of his music.

“To be honest, I don’t really try to even describe it.  I just try to do music that talks about my love for Jesus and try to encourage people.  I just do Jesus music and try to show that love and message through the music,” he declared.

In the midst of his prolific songwriting and ongoing business activities, Franklin still maintains a solid relationship with his wife, Tammie, and their children, which he counts as the most impressive aspect of his career.

“What continues to be most memorable for me is how I’m blessed to be able to keep my family together in the midst of 20 years of doing music.  That’s a very major thing to be celebrated.  A lot of marriages don’t survive this business,” observed Franklin, who cites his favorite scripture as Romans 8:28.

“To be able to still have a beautiful wife and kids who still call me ‘Daddy’ and see me as a part of their fabric, that’s the most successful thing I think I’ve ever accomplished.”

For more information and to purchase BET Experience concert tickets, visit BETExperience.com.

Category: Arts & Culture