Game On: Q&A with Kirk Franklin
Kirk Franklin has forever changed the face of gospel music and taken it to another level in a major way. The platinum-selling, award winning-artist, arranger, musician, producer and writer has a stream of cross-over hits including “Why We Sing,” “I Smile,” “Stomp,” and “Lean On Me,” making him a household name. Still, the gospel music mogul humbly describes his role in the industry “I’m just the usher—a servant. I usher people into church.”
It’s because of this humility and passion that his music reaches hearts worldwide.
Known as “the church boy,” Franklin is excited to return as Musical Co-Host on The American Bible Challenge. His swag and musical genius blends urban gospel, inspiration and hip-hop to produce a sound that is celebrated by the church mothers to gangsters in the street. This rare ingredient has also helped the show attain ratings unknown to the network. “My audience followed me and I wanted to make sure that when they come that we are creating content that is engaging for them and they can enjoy as well,” he tells JET. “The show is number one and that is very major because this is not a Christian network.”
We spoke at length with the writer and producer of the mega song “Take Me to the King, Host and Executive Producer of Sunday Best and CEO of Fo Yo Soul Entertainment about an array of topics, including working with comedian Jeff Foxworthy for the show’s third season on GSN (Game Station Network) and how he got involved with a program that tests the knowledge of the world’s best-selling book.
JET: What attracted you to the show?
Kirk Franklin: “I was just flattered that they were very persistent in pursuing me for the show. They would not quit. I said no at first. They were very diligent in making me a part of the show and asked me if I had any ideas that could make it better or did I see anything that I wanted to change. They were very accepting of that and they wanted to do it. I was very impressed. Ultimately, I said yes and it came across very successful. They invited me back for another season and it’s working out and it’s great. For this mainstream network to have this number one show on it—is pretty cool.”
JET: Describe your role as Musical Co-host?
KF: “Jeff Foxworthy and I do a lot of interacting on the show that’s cool. We make it fun for the contestants and get them involved in singing. I am more like his co-pilot, kinda supportive in the process. We have really good fun together and we play off each other a lot and go back and forth. I have singers that are on there with me. We keep it fresh and entertaining and sing Kirk Franklin songs. I have an opportunity to bring musical guests to the show. Those are the things we try to do to keep it fun, entertaining and engaging. We try to bring cool flavor to the show. I bring the musical component and hopefully we bring a difference to make it enjoyable. People seem to enjoy it.”
JET: What‘s next on your plate?
KF: “Well when you go to any House of Blues in America right now you will be going to Kirk Franklin’s Gospel Brunch. I have been very involved in curating that as far as the menu and the content. I have my own radio channel on Sirius—Kirk Franklin Praise. I have two groups coming out of my label this summer. One is called The Walls Group—two brothers and two sisters—a sibling group. Each winner of Sunday Best is on my label, Tasha Page Lockhart. I always want to do something that’s fresh.”
JET: What encouragement would you give to others in using their gifts beyond the church?
KF: “What I would say more than anything is to make sure your character is ready to go there. We have the gifts but we don’t work as hard on our character as we do our gifts. We want to make sure that when your gifts get you there—your character can keep you there. I would just encourage people to work on the inner you so that the ‘inner me’ does not become the ‘enemy’.”
The American Bible Challenge and Kirk Franklin prepares for the 3rd season, which kicks off on May 22. For more info visit GSNTV.com and check your local listings.
About Effie Rolfe
Effie Rolfe is a media consultant, personality and speaker. For years, she was the “voice of inspiration” each Sunday morning and middays on Chicago radio. She also speaks at schools, churches and workshops. Effie writes for several publications and is the author of The K(N)ots Prayer. Visit her Website effierolfe.com; like her on mseffierolfe.com and follow her via @effiedrolfe.