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He is the ruling supernova of gospel gone pop. Early in his career, the Fo Yo Soul Entertainment/Zomba Gospel artist earned that exalted status by becoming the top selling contemporary gospel artist in measurable history. He has been anointed and celebrated for his astonishing list of achievements and awards; yet just there out of the public’s view, beyond the glory, sit the daily battles faced by a man whose life seems dusted with gold. Many, many days in the life of Kirk Franklin have been filled with battles--nearly his whole life in fact. His seventh and latest CD impacting December 18, The Fight of My Life, includes personal glimpses into his bouts with nature—his own, plus the darker side of others. Sometimes it seems Lucifer is standing on the sidelines waiting to call the winner. Supernovas are triggered by suddenly turning on or turning off the production of energy. Energy has never been in short supply when it comes to this powerhouse –or his ability to shift the energy flow where he wants it. Compare the offstage Franklin with the power wattage of the man in performance. Since his earliest rounds of media interviews, Franklin has been soft spoken--no braggadocio here. If he wore gold chains and rocked the house on stage, well that was his way of calling attention to the message he

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was sending. It was a call for understanding, a beckoning to include a wider world than “just preaching to the choir.” On the phone from his home in Texas, Franklin speaks of life, his doubts, the fights and the future. Pain edges into his voice from time to time, not to engender any sympathy, but to only further explain himself, making sure it’s understood that he’s talking about the glory and wonder and demands his Jesus makes, and he wants everybody within the sound of his voice to feel that glory. He speaks of the first release from the album, “Declaration (This Is It!),” which reworks the old Michael McDonald/Kenny Loggins’ smash, and explains that when he was in the studio recording his version of the song, someone who was around from back in the day told him the genesis of the tune. “It was written about Kenny Loggins’ father, who was gravely ill at the time. So it’s always been a song about survival from the every day trials of life--to life and death--to looking at our life’s purpose,” he says. “Declaration (This Is It!)” was the #1 most added and #1 most increased airplay at Gospel radio when it was released and is being picked up at Urban AC formats quickly. Black radio has taken an open arms approach to Franklin’s music since the time back in early 1995 when Norfolk DJ Drew Dawson began playing “Why We Sing.” The album had been out for a year and had sold good, solid ‘gospel numbers.’ Dawson played it frequently and it hit; soon other stations across the country were playing it, and the song moved across both format and racial lines. That album, Kirk Franklin & The Family, made history as the first gospel debut record to go Platinum. “Why We Sing” became the inspirational hit of that year and because it propelled listeners beyond the “Me Obessed” end of the century mind-set, it can be said it became the inspirational song of the decade…but it did more. This album shifted gospel into mainstream almost seamlessly. The legendary Tom Joyner played Franklin right along with his jokes, the rap and the R&B--no explanations necessary. The music was and is irresistible. The essence of what family could be, the reality of hardships we all endure and the power of spiritual revelations all contribute to Franklin’s extraordinary power as a lyricist. The new album delivers on Franklin’s well-documented irresistibility factor. “Help Me Believe” targets those who may doubt their own faith but are looking for reconfirmation. “He Will Supply” is a tambourine-shaker that celebrates what Franklin knows in his soul to be true; hip hop comes on in with “Jesus,” the force that rules Franklin’s life and presents one of the battles for him. No doubt the adoration superstars routinely receive could get in the way of their ability to humble themselves, but Franklin fights the good fight. “It’s hard for me to always let Jesus do what he does and get myself out of the way,” he admits. But he works at it every day, on his knees. He also works on making certain his music reaches out to people. “I want them to identify with what they are hearing, to say, yes, they’ve been there. Everybody’s understands “This is It.” “There’ve been times in my life,

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This is it ...You can’t mess with my mind anymore, I’ve sworn I’ve been here before ... it’s a new day, I’m not afraid anymore ... yes, I believe…—Kirk Franklin
I’ve been wondering why ... but, still somehow I believe, we always survive.” The song’s hand-clapping groove reinforces the strength of God’s grace and of prayer: “This is it ... You can’t mess with my mind anymore, I’ve sworn I’ve been here before ... it’s a new day, I’m not afraid anymore ... yes, I believe…” He sings of not having his mind messed with, but oh, has it ever been! Abandonment, rebellion, accidents, criticism--all could have produced a different man. When he was just about old enough for pre-school, his teenaged mother left him and there was never a father around, but God has always had his hands on Franklin. When he was four, Gertrude Franklin, his elderly, distant aunt, adopted him. She brought him up in the Baptist Church, paid for his piano lessons by collecting recyclables and watched the precocious little boy’s talent blossom.. He was offered a gospel record deal at age seven, but his aunt refused to allow it. By 11, he was named minister of music at Mount Rose Baptist Church. With puberty, the good little guy started to act up. The fatherless child felt backed into a corner by the roughnecks in the tough Riverside area of Fort Worth. They called him “church boy.” “I resented it because it was taken for weakness,” says Franklin, “It was like you can jump on the church boy because he’s not going

It’s hard for me to always let Jesus do what he does and get myself out of the way.—Kirk Franklin
to fight back. He’s going to turn the other cheek.” Franklin didn’t turn the other cheek, he turned to acting up-drinking beer, smoking, running the streets and eventually ending up in juvenile detention. His rebellion was brought to a pretty quick halt. An innocent high school friend was shot and killed in a freak accident prompting the teenager to reedicate his life to Jesus. Ironically the once hated invective “Church Boy” would become a book, and most recently, Hollywood power house Lions Gate films optioned that book to make a film of Franklin’s life that includes some of the darker parts such as a child born out of wedlock to the teenage Franklin. His girlfriend was left to care for the baby, Kerrion, for several years. But there were miles to go between Riverside and Hollywood. He took a look at his life to that point and decided if God could forgive him, he could forgive himself. He turned back to music. First came an album that flopped but generated a meeting with a producer who heard the demo and soon writing assigments for the Dallas-Ft. Worth Mass Choir, the Gospel Music Workshop of America’s Mass Choir, the Trinity Temple Full Gospel Mass Choir and the Georgia Mass Choir were his. Then in 1992, he put his own choir together, consisting of his closest singing friends and his long journey into music history began. Rules were broken, records shattered, a genre revolution begun and criticism unleashed. Of course,

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Franklin was not the first musician to meld the sacred and the secular. Ray Charles had done it in the fifties and Ray offered an observation about Franklin’s run-ins with the fingerpointers who would challenge Franklin’s musicmaking. “There’s nothing written in the Bible, Old or New Testament, that says, if you believe in Me, you ain’t going to have no troubles.” Unlike Charles, Franklin stayed with his beloved gospel, instinctively knowing it needed opening up to appeal to a greater demographic and also to generate increased marketing dollars. Franklin said it was crucial for gospel “to receive the same type of respect other types of music get.” Franklin also believed he could make music more accessible for a demographic always appealing to record companies. Indeed Franklin’s success has helped push gospel closer to the mainstream while attracting the crucial under-25 audience. That’s always been a much sought-after demographic. For Franklin, more than commerciality is at work here: “We needed to get to the spiritual demographic too, this Jesus message needs to get out to the young people that don’t go to church.” Over the last 15 years, Franklin has succeeded on both fronts. The last traditional gospel offerings to really transcend categories were Aretha Franklin’s 1970’s Amazing Grace album and Edwin Hawkins’ “Oh Happy Day.” Any label executive will tell you in the past the sales numbers don’t generally support a wide marketing effort. That’s no longer the case. His second album, Kirk Franklin & the Family Christmas, became the genre’s first Christmas album to make it to number one, and his 1996 album Whatcha Lookin’ 4 went Gold as soon as it was released. But 1996 was also the year shock gripped his fans on November 1st, when word spread like wildfire that Franklin had fallen offstage and was dangerously close to death. Just two days after launching his third national tour, Franklin fell head first down into the concrete floor of the orchestra pit at the Memphis Cook Convention Center. Rumors sped around with the speed of the internet and postings popped up that he was paralyzed, he suffered brain damage, his meteoric rise had come to an end. All, of course, not true. Some called it a miracle. The results for Franklin were galvanizing. Six weeks after the accident, he was strong enough to hit the stage at the 12th Annual Stellar Awards Show where he not only walked

According to Zomba Gospel Label Group’s Sr.Vice President/GM, James “Jazzy” Jordan, all the power of the label is being focused behind the marketing of this new album. “Kirk Franklin will be supported like the superstar he is! We are 1000% behind this release, ” affirms Jordan, ”and you can see Kirk everywhere: from TV specials like BET’s “Sunday Best” and NBC’s “Clash Of The Choirs, to bill” boards across the country, national TV spots, “The Tom Joyner” radio show and “Yolanda Adams” radio show-just to name a few places to see and hear Kirk Franklin. The first single, “Declaration (This is It), is top five at ” Gospel radio and claiming the UAC chart! So we feel great about the set-up for this special Christmas gift from Kirk Franklin. ”

away with honors in five categories, he gave a great high energy performance. Then a month later, he left on a 50-city tour entitled “Tour of Life,” the day after Christmas. If Lucifer was standing in the wings waiting on Franklin, it has been told and retold that Kirk had a message for him: “I wanted to make a fool out of the devil,” he said. “You’re not going to try to take my life and think I’m not going to praise God. I’m a living testimony.” Franklin also got in a little testimony about his family. He’d married Tammy Collins from the group Ashanti earlier in the year, uniting their two children from previous relationships and with the accident, his marriage took on a whole new luster. The couple has added two more children to their close-knit family. He returned in 1998 with The Nu Nation Project further revitalizing contemporary gospel, adding R&B production techniques and wonderful cameos from Mary J and Bono, earning Franklin a third Grammy. Franklin became the first gospel star whose work was added onto the soundtrack of the movie “Kingdom Come” (contributing the single “Thank You”) and released another album, 2002’s The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin. It was a rebirth indeed, followed by two more albums in the next four years. Hero (2005) and Songs for the Storm, Vol. 1 (2006), both of which topped the gospel charts at the time of their release. Hero went on to win two Grammys in late 2006 Making gospel music cool, Franklin opened the doors of churches to new members. He combined gospel with R&B, pop, rock, and hip-hop and turned gospel music into a multi-million dollar industry. The recipient of five Grammys, 11 Doves, 34 Stellars, four NAACP Images, two BET Awards and a 2006 American Music Award, Franklin also moved gospel onto an ever larger stage, serving as the host and an executive producer of “Sunday Best,” the American Idol-like competition for gospel talent on BET that ranked up 1.2 million voters in its latest round. The Church Boy could have been an unlikely candidate for the heights that Franklin has achieved in his lifetime. But Franklin’s love for His Jesus has fueled His Music and turned His Fight into a knockout for God. PAGE

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