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Kirk Franklin…a biography - скоро будет на русском

Kirk Franklin has, without a doubt changed modern music more than any other artist in the last decade. He has been called the architect for a new American musical genre. The thirty-year-old minister has incorporated contemporary hip-hop music with traditional gospel choir arrangements to reach our youth with a positive and uplifting message. The viability of his music ministry has prompted every major label to institute a Gospel Music division.

Franklin was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. Abandoned by his teenage mother and father at the age of three, the orphaned Franklin was adopted by a distant sixty-four year old aunt, Gertrude Franklin. He began playing the piano at the age of four. On Saturday mornings his aunt would collect cans to pay for his music lessons. On Sunday mornings the same woman, the only mother he ever knew, made sure he was in church.

By the time he was out of kindergarten, he was singing and playing on the church gospel circuit. At the age of seven he was offered a recording contract. Thinking that he was too young, his aunt declined the offer. At eleven he was appointed minister of music at Mount Rose Baptist Church. It was then he began to write, arrange and re-arrange Christian music. "My first triumph", recalls Franklin, "was turning Elton John’s "Benny and the Jets" into a gospel tune." At nineteen he did his first home recording. Franklin gave the tape to Milton Biggham (President of Savoy Music Group) who was so impressed that the wonderkid was invited to work with the DFW Mass Choir on their debut album. Not only did he direct some of the tunes on the album but his composition "Every Day with Jesus" was recorded for the project. In 1992 he began to realize his vision of a new gospel sound. In choosing the talented artists that comprise The Family, Franklin handpicked seventeen of the richest voices in the area.

As word of Franklin’s impending solo project spread to the major labels a bidding war ensued to sign him to a lucrative contract. In 1993, after much prayer and reflection, he signed with a brand new fledgling label, Gospo Centric. Gospel Music veteran Vicki Mack-Lataillade (CEO, Gospo Centric) started the company with $6,000 she borrowed from her father’s postal pension, and Franklin was among the first artists signed to the label. A month after the release of Kirk Franklin and the Family, the CD sat atop Billboard’s gospel chart. He signed a new contract with Gospo Centric in 1996 and in January 1997 Gospo Centric was named the #1 Gospel label in the country, fielding five artists and eight albums in the top 20. In seven short years Kirk Franklin has become a musical superstar. He has broken barriers, crossed musical boundary lines, and achieved success previously unknown to any other gospel artist. For the first time in gospel music a debut album sold over 1,000,000 copies. His first album, Kirk Franklin and the Family is certified double platinum. To this day, Kirk Franklin and the Family has remained atop the Gospel, Contemporary Christina, Urban, R&B and video charts. His debut album established Franklin as the leader of a new gospel music renaissance by expanding the genre to encompass contemporary R&B and Hip-Hop. The fan base for this new genre has grown exponentially. His second album, Kirk Franklin and the Family Christmas sold over 500,000 in fourteen weeks.

In 1996, Whatcha Lookin’ 4 entered the charts at #23 on Billboard’s Top 200; #3 on the R&B charts; #1 Contemporary Christina, and #1 on the Gospel charts. The album was certified platinum in June 1997, selling over 1,000,000 copies. The album won many accolades, including a Grammy Award (contemporary Soul Gospel album), a Soul Train Music Award, 5 Stellar Awards, the Dove Impact Award for most influential artist, and a NAACP Image Award for the best duo or group (beating out BlackStreet and The Fugees). Billboard Magazine named him the #1 Gospel artist and the #1 Contemporary Christian Artist of 1997. Also in 1996 he made his first foray into motion picture soundtracks with his songs "Joy" from The Preacher’s Wife, and "My Life Is In Your Hands" in Spike Lee’s Get on the Bus.

Franklin signed a multi year producing deal on the B-Rite label, which is distributed through (the infamous) Interscope Records. His first effort on this label, God’s Property Featuring Kirk Franklin shipped gold and debuted at #3 on Billboard’s Top 200, #1 Contemporary Christian and #1 Gospel.

In 1997, Franklin went on tour with Yolanda Adams and Fred Hammond. "Tour of Life" sold out venues in every city.

Kirk has released his latest CD, NuNation Project, as well as his autobiography, Church Boy, published by Word Publishing in 1998. The NuNation Project set the pace for gospel music with five Grammy Award nominations including the prestigious Song of the Year Category for "Lean on Me". Lean on Me, written by Franklin, was also nominated for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. The NuNation Project was also nominated and awarded the category for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album. With sales in excess of 1.5 million, the CD continues to be a favorite all over the world.

The NuNation Project was the primary focus of the national NuNation Tour in 1999 which featured Kirk Franklin, The Family, 1 Nation Crew, CeCe Winans, Trin-Ni-Tee 5:7 and the Steps of Praise dancers. The tour, which received rave reviews, was also available through Pay-per-view on HBO. The subsequent video is still available in music outlets everywhere.

Franklin’s latest project, scheduled for a late spring or early summer release, features his youth group 1 Nation Crew. The CD is just as diverse as the members of the group, which is multicultural and is expected to cross cultural barriers around the world. The group recently performed a single from the CD on Good Morning America.

Franklin and his wife Tammy live in Arlington, Texas, and have three children; Kerrion, Carrington and Kennedy.

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Revised 4/14/2000