Kirk Franklin caught up with Billboard to reflect on his joyful Verzuz battle with Fred Hammond last month, which he called, “a really great time out for me.”
While wearing “I Can’t Breathe” shirts, as a nod to the final words of George Floyd and Eric Garner, Franklin and Hammond offered an evening of hope, healing, and songs of strength on Instagram Live — at one point, he even called Ahmaud Arbery’s mom.
For nearly decades, Franklin’s music has transcended across all genres and is often played at college parties, religious events, midday brunches, or backyard BBQs. But no matter where you enjoy his music, he considers its success a win for all gospel artists, even those who came before him.
“I think that those are great wins for gospel music. Whether it’s Fred or Kirk, we’re all standing on somebody’s shoulders,” he told Billboard.
“You’ve got to give a shout out to Edwin Hawkins and “Oh Happy Day.” You got to give a shout-out to The Clark Sisters and “You Brought the Sunshine.” We’re all standing on somebody’s shoulders.”
He continued, “One of my heroes said, ‘All we are are links in this great chain’…I want to remind people [that] everybody you love came from gospel…Everybody that you’re a fan of, they’re a fan of gospel music. It’s just really important for people to celebrate the origin. Put some respect on gospel’s name.”
After the battle, Franklin shared a video for the Long Live Love track “Strong God,” to raise funds for COVID-19 relief. It followed “Just for Me,” which recently topped Billboard’s Gospel Airplay Chart.
By Rachel George
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