Grammy-winning gospel artist Kirk Franklin has made a career out of inspiring others with his music, but what inspires him? Ahead of his recent performance in Indianapolis, Franklin spoke with the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper about his long career and how he maintains his purpose and passion.
Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper: Your latest album was your 11th consecutive release to debut at No. 1. Why do you think your music resonates so much with so many people?
Franklin: I have no idea (laughs). I think the biggest danger is when a creative person tries too hard to find that out. I think when we spend time analyzing what this is, what that is, you lose hope. You were not trying to analyze when you first started. If that was not your agenda when you first started, it shouldn’t be your agenda while you’re doing it, because you could easily lose the heartbeat of why you’re here.
How do you go about making sure you maintain that heartbeat?
By stumbling, failing and making mistakes, and realizing when you do it. Trying to fight to be true to where you’ve been. Trying to keep people around you who will tell you when you’re doing it, they’ll let you know when you’re losing focus. Trying to keep your spiritual energy deep in God so you can feel his loving hand pulling at your heart when you are losing focus.
Twenty years is a long career. How do you find inspiration to continue to create new work?
I just really try hard to just be. Sometimes you can become a human doing, and I believe that is the beginning of failure. For me, I just want to try to continue to be a human being and to try to be in the moment, try to be a good father, a good husband, a good Christian, try to live what I’m singing and writing about. I think that’s where the music comes from. It naturally flows from there. It’s like two people trying too hard to plan the perfect kiss … that would probably be the worst kiss ever. But there’s a very powerful thing about just being. Just be.
How do you maintain the passion for what you do day after day and not get burnt out? In other words, why do you love this so much?
I think there’s a balance: I love it, and it loves me. Life in itself gives you enough to pull from, whether it’s Brussels or Paris, or there was a young lady last night at my concert who bought her tickets in December for the entertainment of it, then between December and now, she was diagnosed with cancer. Now, her whole purpose and motive for being there is now life and death. How can you not be inspired by that? The music inspires me, and I inspire it, and it’s just a beautiful dance we do together.
For your fans who come to one of your shows, when they’re leaving, what do you want them to have experienced?
How full and how real I believe my message of faith is and how infectious, inspiring, enjoyable and entertaining it can be in one. There’s a misconception of what Christians can be or what inspirational music can be — that it’s somber, that it’s a very right-wing type of approach to life. But we laugh, we dance, we cry, we worry, we jam, we party, we move. We do all that we do, and we do it as flawed human people seeking to understand and trust the love of God.
Kelly Patrick Slone@KDPSlone