Originally published in The Gospel Herald
Gospel singer Kirk Franklin dominated the gospel categories during the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday evening (May 22, 2016). The 20-year music veteran from Fort Worth, Texas, was given the Top Gospel Song for “Wanna Be Happy?” He also got two awards for Top Gospel Artist and Top Gospel Album associated with his latest release, “Losing My Religion.”
“I thank God for trusting me with music that still speaks to people today,” said Franklin. “After 20 years, it’s just humbling to be nominated with so many new, fresh and iconic gospel artists of our time.”
Franklin’s two hit singles from his eleventh album Losing My Religion remain in the Top 5, with his record-breaking smash hit “Wanna Be Happy?” currently still No 1, and his latest single “123 Victory” currently at No 5 on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs Chart.
Franklin is in concert this summer during his 20 Years in One Night Tour. The second leg kicks off on June 3, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia, at The James Brown Arena and will visit 14 additional cities throughout the United States.
The self-proclaimed “church boy” debuted songs in 1993.
Abandoned by his mother and never having known his father, Franklin was reared by his Aunt Gertrude, a deeply religious woman who raised him as a strict Baptist. When he was four, she paid for his piano lessons by collecting aluminium cans. Franklin was a natural musician who could sight read and play by ear. At age 11, he was leading the Mt Rose Baptist Church adult choir near Dallas. Despite, or because of, his church background, Franklin began rebelling in his teens and getting into trouble until one of his friends was accidentally shot and killed at age 15.
Franklin returned to composing songs, recording, and conducting. Since 1991, he has been backed up by his 17-member choir, the Family, a group comprised of friends and associates from his younger days. Support from his pastor, his wife Tammy, who he married in early 1996, and the four children they brought to the marriage help keep Franklin close to his religious core, and he returned in 1998 with Nu Nation Project. The album topped the Billboard Top 200 charts (peaking at number seven) and remained on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart for 49 weeks, paving the way for Franklin’s third Grammy (Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album).