By Michal Ortner
Kirk Franklin, known for his diverse background in gospel music and entertainment, is standing up for fellow performer, Erica Campbell. Criticism of her newly-released album that features a song called “I Luh God” has many asking questions about her intentions. Many are labeling it “trap gospel.”
When asked by NPR’s Arun Rath to give his opinion, Franklin said, “I just commend her efforts, man. I think that trying to take a message, you know, that’s old as many millennia and trying to make it culturally relevant is always a tough job.”
“I think that more than anything, man, is that I always try to remember the heart of the person doing it. And I am very, very good friends with Erica. She has a great heart for God. She has a great heart for ministry. And I just believe that the heart always wins,” he continued.
Franklin’s history with introducing hip-hop and other new themes to Christian music gives him a unique perspective. In light of his past experience, Rath asked what kind of responses Franklin received when he brought in new sounds to the gospel genre.
“Yeah, well, you know, it was a very hard time because it’s very hard when you hear churches talk about you. And, you know, some people start to question your heart,” Franklin responded.
“…So, you know, if you like Italian food before you became a born-again Christian, you know, you’re probably still going to like Italian food. There’s nothing wrong with that, you know. I’m trying to make Christ relevant within the culture,” he added.
Rath also asked Franklin if music should be compared to wearing your Sunday best. Do the “themes in gospel music deserve respectful treatment,” and is it disrespectful to resort to slang and what appears like worldly trends?
“Yeah. Boo. Boo to all of that. That’s my problem with all of that, man. Boo to what to wear to church and what you can and can’t say. Boo. It’s almost like, you know, who are we? Man, we’re not referees. It’s almost like if you don’t like it, pray for her. You know, man, you know, we’re losing people. The church is losing its power because we stink at how we talk. We stink at how we communicate,” Franklin shared.
“Nobody hears love from our voices,” the musician stated. “They hear the schoolteacher from Charlie Brown’s ‘Peanuts’ — womp, womp, womp, womp, womp. Now, not all churches, not all Christians — because I get beat up by that. But if we let our light shine, that sounds a lot more louder than picket signs and complaints.”