At age 11, Kirk Franklin led a Fort Worth church in song. Today he’s changing gospel music
Rev. Kyev Tatum Sr. knew Kirk Franklin would be special when the then-4-year-old started playing piano at New Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church in the 1970s.
“He couldn’t even touch the pedals down there,” Tatum said. “But he would play in such a special way.”
Kirk Franklin would indeed go on to become special. After 30 years of making beautiful gospel music, Franklin took home three more awards Sunday night.
Franklin nabbed Best Gospel Album for “Kingdom Book One Deluxe,” Best Gospel Performance/Song for “Kingdom” and Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song for “Fear Is Not My Future.” All three awards were shared with Atlanta-based band Maverick City Music, who collaborated with Franklin on the album.
Three Grammys aren’t bad for a kid from Fort Worth, Tatum said. In total, Franklin has 19 Grammy wins and 30 nominations since 1992.
“We look at Beyonce and she has 33 [Grammy’s], which is phenomenal on itself, and that’s on the world stage,” Tatum said. “But for a Gospel artist to have 19 Grammy’s and 30 nominations is just phenomenal.”
Franklin was a musical prodigy that changed the world
Franklin was born on Jan. 26, 1970, in Fort Worth and was raised by a great-aunt. Even at a young age, people in church knew there was something special about the boy.
At age 11, he was appointed choir director at Fort Worth’s New Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church. For $25 a week, the young musical prodigy led an adoring congregation in song.
That was the start of Franklin’s musical legacy, Tatum said.
The boy could have easily ran to other genres with his talent, instead he stuck with gospel music. That choice changed the world, Tatum said.
“He ushered in a whole new style of hip hop gospel, that is going to be the impetus for transforming Black communities and bringing Black churches back to life,” Tatum said.
Church sanctuary named ‘Kirk D. Franklin Chapel’
Franklin started out at the Fort Worth church and the congregation has never forgot it.
In honor of the gifted singer, the church renamed their sanctuary the “Kirk D. Franklin Chapel” to celebrate his contributions to the church, Tatum said. Many from the church were there to celebrate Franklin when the Texas Rangers honored him at a game last October.
Franklin’s hip hop gospel was ahead of its time and has inspired countless to believe in the church, according to Tatum. His influence did not stop at New Mount Rose. He has helped evolve the gospel music community.
“He’s a home grown Fort Worth son, Lord have mercy,” Tatum said. “He’s a son of the south side, 76104 baby.”