On his new album, gospel superstar Kirk Franklin greets one of humankind’s most arresting emotions: Fear. In true Franklin form, the album titled “Hello Fear,” debuted on Billboard’s gospel chart at no.1 and no.5 on Billboard’s Top 200, breaking records for the fourth highest Gospel debut in SoundScan history.
It’s a far cry from the colorfully clad, high top fade sporting local choir director who started out 20 years ago. Today, he can also put author (he wrote “The Blueprint”), and TV host (“Sunday Best”) under his belt. Clearly, he isn’t someone who lets fear get in his way.
He spoke with ESSENCE.com about how he handles fear, what’s important in his life and his latest venture with funny man Steve Harvey.
ESSENCE.com: What is your message with Hello Fear?
KIRK FRANKLIN: It is wanting to address this thing that’s knocking on everybody’s door right now. There’s a great sense of worry and uncertainty that is making people anxious. My statement in the album is we don’t have to run away from that emotion. It’s not something that has to keep us knocked out of life’s game and crippled. We can face it head on and hopefully there’ll e some messages that give people the power and confidence to do that.
ESSENCE.com: On songs like “The Altar” and “The Blood” you are talking directly to the devil. Is that part of the goal in the message of this CD, that you want to point people to the authority of God?
KIRK FRANKLIN: Not when you are writing the music. When you are writing the music I think it’s important to just write the music. Albums that are thematic can be dangerous because you can end up repeating yourself… I did know that when God gave me the song “Hello Fear,” I knew that was going to be so unique, and I thought it would be a great title for the album. I thought it would be a great, ear catching, eye catching title. Not bye bye fear, or go away fear, but hello fear. I thought that would be a good conversation piece.
ESSENCE.com: In your book “The Blueprint” you shared your testimony and some of the ways you had to encounter fear. What’s been your greatest fear and how did you overcome it?
FRANKLIN: My greatest fear has just been fear itself because fear just manifested itself in so many ways. . .It’s kinda like this tree that bears many different fruit. So for me there have been times I’ve spent time plucking fruit off the tree. Now my goal is to pull it up from the root to get to the core of it. That’s where I’m coming from with this record. I want people to know fear may knock on the door but you don’t have to keep answering.
ESSENCE.com: You’re doing so many things including a gospel and comedy tour with Steve Harvey. How did that come about and how it that going?
FRANKLIN: It’s going really really good. Steve and I have been friends for about 16 years and we’ve worked together in many different ways. This kinda just happened came up in casual conversation; just kinda came out of friendship and it’s going great.
ESSENCE.com: People refer to you as a legend while you’re still a young man. How do you feel about that?
FRANKLIN: I don’t see that. That’s not my aim not my goal. I’m just grateful God is putting music in me, man that people still wanna hear.
Kirk Franklin’s latest album, “Hello Fear” is available on Amazon.com.