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Ghost Canyon

Kirk Franklin Kirk Franklin

'Building Lives According to Godís Blueprint'

Gospel singer Kirk Franklin has led the charge to fuse contemporary sound with the timeless message of Salvation since the early 1990ís. His musical efforts have garnered him at least seven Grammy Awards, and more than ten Dove Awards. In addition to capturing two previous titles, he is also nominated for a 2010 BET Award.

His success has not been without pitfalls, however. Franklin publicly battled a pornography addiction in 2006 and emerged triumphant.

In addition to being an multi-award winning musician and public speaker, Kirk Franklin is also an author, having written a motivational book entitled 'The Blueprint.'

Exclusive Magazineís Ashley Trombley recently sat down one-on-one with Mr. Franklin to talk about Faith, music, and just what The Blueprint is all about.

Please tell us a little bit about the process of writing your new book, 'The Blueprint: A Plan for Living Above Life's Storms' "This book really was an idea that was birthed through the people who work around me. They thought it would be a good idea for me to do a book because Iíd started doing a lot of public speaking, like at colleges, and conferences, and churches. And people started asking for a book, asking, ďDo you have anything?Ē So that was the beginning of it. We had a few publishers who were interested in it, and here we are now."

In the introduction, before the story even really begins, you say point-blank that being a Christian isnít always necessarily easy, and thatís something you must be prepared for. How important was it to begin the book with that sentiment? "I think that there is either a negative or cynical picture that most Americans that are non-churchgoing or non-Christians, and even Christian people sometimes get lost in thinking that thereís this false image that I want to make sure that Iím tearing down at the very beginning so that you donít think itís going to read like this pie-in-the-sky kind of book. And so because I wanted people to know that, I wanted it to be the first thing that I said."

In the book, you mention that people of our generation have perhaps a more difficult time relying on God than our grandparents did. Could you speculate as to why that is? "Because first of all, we have more distractions. And we have more people with more knowledge, but not necessarily wisdom. Itís very easy that the more liberal you become, the easier it is to rationalize the creation of man, and the purpose of man, and the origin of man. And the more you have that, youíre going to have less people with a mindset to be theistic."

Thatís very wise. You also address personal issues like your difficult childhood, and struggles with different vices. For those fans who might not have known that about you, what was the turning point? "The turning point in my life really came just through mentoring, just having some guys in my live who were really living it, and having me mirror them. That really changed things."

And today do you have any role models or examples you follow when it comes to living and walking in Faith? "Those same guys. One of them is my father-in-law. When I got married at 25, he became one of those guys. Another guy is a guy named Tony Evans. Heís become like a spiritual father to me."

What advice would you give to people out there who are going through the same trials that you experienced? "That nothing will change unless you see it as something that needs to change. If youíre passive and donít see anything wrong with living a promiscuous life or whatever it is, then nothing is going to change. The only way to change is to see some way of getting well. I mean, the doctor may have everything that he can offer you to get you better, but heís not gonna pick you up and drive you to his office. You have to make your own decision to get in your car and go."

Thatís very good advice. At one point in the book, you note your admiration for Barack Obama, yet say that the color of oneís skin should not give them a free pass. What would you say to the people who would misinterpret that and get offended? "Then they just become offended, because the statement is not meant to be offensive. And thatís the challenge in itself: We should be able to make sure we speak truth without making special boundaries for people who might become offended. Itís like, truth is truth, and we should be able to go out there and say it, and whoever it resonates with, it resonates with."

Speaking of resonance, there was a section in the book that deeply resonated with me: The chapter on relationships. Could you offer any words of wisdom to Christian singles such as myself who are trying to hold fast to Godís Blueprint in the face of loneliness and disappointment? "Yes, first of all to make sure that they donít see marriage as the prize. The grand prize is letting God do all of these great, incredible things He has planned to do inside of you and to stop seeing your position in this season of life as a curse. It is a great blessing, and gives you the arms and legs to do things in the Kingdom that married people canít do."

"[The Apostle] Paul even calls marriage ďa great distraction.Ē Itís a blessing, but itís also a distraction. If you want to be a missionary in a third-world country and if you have children, you now have something to consider. If youíre single and you want to go do great Kingdom work, you can just go do it."

It seems like men are the primary target of the book. Thereís some stuff for the ladies in there, but mostly the guys. Was that intentional? "No, no. I was really just trying to speak to everyone. I think maybe it has some of that residue because the success or failure of the home and society falls on the man."

That could be it. The man is the head of the household, after all. "Right. Heís the head to serve, not to beat up."

Then thereís that whole ďwife, submit to your husbandĒ thing. Thatís an important differentiation to make, isnít it? "Major. Thatís as he submits to the Lord. If heís not submitting to the Lord, then heís out of order! Then he canít demand that from her."

So what is the importance, then, of raising children according to the Blueprint? "If your career, if your church, if your church, if your friends have more attention than your children, youíre out of order. Parenting is not an option. Parenting is not a ĎPlan B.í When you have kids, youíre signing up for a long-term contract. Thatís it."

And what do your children think about their Dad being a award-winning author and performer? "Nothing! My little nine-year-old gets more excited than anyone else. He really likes it. Everybody else is like, ďget out of the way!Ē, he laughs.

The advent of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have made it so much easier to connect with people over so many levels. Do you think that things like that could be used as effective witnessing tools? "Yes, they can be. I think that weíre still realizing that most people who go on the internet arenít necessarily going on for that reason. So Christian content will probably never be as big as mainstream content just because of the nature of the internet. Social networking is very isolated, itís an isolated posture. And when people are isolated, theyíre not always necessarily wanting to be inspired. They want to be entertained, not necessarily like, ďI wonder what God is sayingÖĒ

Thatís true. So to that end, do you have a Twitter page? "My Twitter page is @KirkFranklin. And my website is"

Letís talk about the music for a second. Youíve won Grammyís and Dove Awards, which is the bigger thrill to win? "Some of the Grammyís I stole. What happened was, the guy was in the bathroom, and I just grabbed íem and started running. (laughs) Iím just being stupid. But none of them are thrilling to win. None of them. When I win or lose awards, I donít like what I see in me. Like when I win, I see a little cockiness, a little swag. And when I lose, I see the failure and depression and the beating self up."

But everyoneís entitled to a little of that, arenít they? It shows the humanity that God works on to perfect, would you agree? "Yes. Itís an emotion, and itís an environment that if I had a choice, I wouldnít participate in. I donít like being in environments that stimulate that."

Since weíre on the subject, congratulations on your BET Award nomination! I caught you on 106 and Park recently, and the response from the studio audience seemed very positive. And then I saw the video that came after yours and it was such a stark contrast! Would you ever consider yourself to be a sort of breath of fresh air to the black entertainment community? "I donít know. I think my biggest job and my biggest goal is just to make sure that Iím a light. And not only a light to all of you, but a light in my home. Because, you know, we can have this good dialogue here, and this is easy. When youíre at home with your spouse and your children, to me, that is the greatest walking out of your faith because thereís no cameras, thereís nobody to impress. Your kids and your spouse, they can see. So that, to me, is the greatest task of trying to be salt and light."

Youíve collaborated with several musicians over your musical career. Which has been your favorite to work with? "Bono, andÖthere are so many! But thereís one song I just did recently for Haiti, and I can say that that is the most exciting musical project Iíve ever done. Because of the cause, because of how quickly it came together, because of how the pieces all came together. And, I had a chance to produce my peers."

Who did you produce? "Who was on that song? Letís seeÖ Bebe and Cece Winans, Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, Marvin Sapp, Marvin Winans, Fred Hammond, PJ Martin, the Clark sisters, Smokie Norful, Shirley Caesar, Natalie Grantís on it, just everybody."

What was it like working with TobyMac? "Toby and I are good friends, weíre boys, and thatís what makes it cool."

Finally, when the book tour is over, what is next for Kirk Franklin? "Iím gonna try to breathe, and see if God has any songs that Heíll let me borrow."

That is such a refreshing philosophy on songwriting! "Youíre too cool! Thatís my plan, to see if Heís got some stuff I can get on loan from Him. But if He doesnít, Iíll just have to wait, because I canít do it contrived."

Interviewed by: Ashley Trombley

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