“…I’m doing all the things I do because I truly believe that there’s hope…I go where I go because all over this planet there are people who need to know that God is love and that Jesus is His Son.  If I can break people’s hearts and touch them with music and laughter and love so that they’ll know that, ‘Yeah, there is a better way,’ then I’ve accomplished what I’m here for…”  –  Excerpts from Kirk Franklin’s autobiography: “Church Boy, My Music & My life.”

kirk franklin, losing my religion

*Kirk Franklin has never been afraid to push the envelope of his avant-garde brand of music to reach the masses – in the name of Jesus.

As a pioneer, Franklin has boldly fused pulsating rhythms and grooves of hip hop, R&B, funk and pop genres into a patented gospel music model that has allowed him to find a home on top of Billboard’s Gospel, Christian, and R&B/Hip Hop charts for two-plus decades.

Since launching his debut album, “Kirk Franklin & The Family” in 1993, Franklin has garnered nine Grammys, 39 Stellar, 16 Dove, and eight NAACP Image awards, as well as many other honors.

On Friday, Nov. 13, Franklin will release his 11th album – his first in almost five years – entitled “Losing My Religion.”  The new project is produced by Franklin and Shaun Martin on Franklin’s label, Fo Yo Soul Recordings, which is in partnership with RCA.  The title of the 13-track contemporary gospel album has already began to create a buzz in gospel music and church circles that have gotten an early listen to Franklin’s new music.  However, the question that’s seems to be on the minds of many fans is:  What does the title of the album, which is also the name of the recording’s first song, really mean?

Franklin responds.

“Religion gives people a list of things to do, to be and to try to accomplish to save one’s self, instead of realizing that it’s Christ who saves us,” Franklin explained.  “What religion has done is thrown so many rules, so many laws, and so many other things at people that people are drowning and have become frustrated.  My job on ‘Losing My Religion’ is to show that God wants you to receive salvation, and religion doesn’t have anything to do with it.”

Franklin said that he’s not sure what people are saying about the album on the Internet, because he doesn’t look online for validation.

“I just stay focused on what I’m trying to do, focused on what I’m trying to say,” said Franklin, via phone from his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas.  “And whatever negativity that’s out there, is what it is.  I just really want to present this incredible music and songs, because I’m passionate about reaching people and trying to touch them on a deeper level.”

The new album, according to Franklin, will feature some of his high octant music, featuring many of gospel and R&B’s most talented vocalists, inclusive of Tasha Page-Lockhart, Kim Burrell, Lalah Hathaway, Tasha Cobbs, Tamela Mann, Sarah Reeves and Zacardi Cortez.  He added that there’s some “head-bumping anthems that will awaken the spirit.”  Such songs include “123 Victory” and “Over.”

Franklin is thankful for the platform that God has given him, something that was not guaranteed almost 20 years ago.  In November, 1996, Franklin, while in concert in Memphis, Tenn. fell into a dark pit behind the venue’s stage.  He sustained serious injuries which threatened both his music career and life.  After a long road to recovery, Franklin began a meteoric rise in the music industry that continues to this day.

“The fall did make me stronger in some ways,” Franklin wrote in his autobiography.  “I think it gave me a renewed sensitivity and a new intensity for what I do.”

It’s with sustained intensity that compels Franklin to still “stomp” for God and God’s people.  Now, the mission for Christ, said Franklin, continues with “Losing My Religion.”

“I‘m trying to shed a light and raise awareness so that people will see God beyond religious lens and will see Him as the creator of life,” Franklin said.  “I want them to know that God must still be part of the cultural conversations of life, and that He’s not antiquated.   God’s love is still relevant.  I hope that God and His message of love will be received by those who listen to ‘Losing My Religion.’  I want people to know that it’s about God; not about religion.”

Listen to Kirk Franklin’s new CD, “Losing My Religion” at Essence.