Kirk Franklin’s newest project dives into the joys and trials of fatherhood as he meets his biological father for the first time and reconnects with his estranged son.
“This is the first time I’ve had a behind-the-scenes videographer capturing this content for the making of a project,” Franklin told PEOPLE about his thirteenth album. “I recorded the first song in March. Then in April, everything shifted and became something I could have never planned for.”
The album and its companion documentary, both titled “Father’s Day,” capture the life-changing events that Franklin experienced as he was reunited with his biological father and his estranged son.
Franklin had a tough life growing up. Born to a teenage mom, he was adopted at the age of 4. Although he knew that his birth mother didn’t have the means to raise him, he often felt that she had abandoned him.
“I lived being bullied as a kid. I had a learning disorder. I failed out of high school. I got a young lady pregnant when I was 17, and the church crucified me for it,” Franklin said. “It’s like I never had anybody take up for me or who had my back.”
Franklin didn’t get much help from his adoptive mother either.
“She was 64. She was a widow and did the best she could when I was young. She got on government aid and would find money to pay for my piano lessons,” he said. “But by 12 or 13 I felt abandoned by her because I could tell I became more of an irritant. I wanted to date and go out and I always felt like I was inconveniencing her. It just added to the feeling of displacement.”
Franklin’s feeling that nobody cared about him only grew when he began making music and found success with his early albums. The man he had been told was his biological father began showing up to his concerts with his biological mother.
“I was angry at the fact that I did not have a father and he would dare show up once my life seemed to have some sense of order. Same for my biological mother,” Franklin said. “It was very traumatic for me.”
Things changed while recording his latest album when a singer he hired from his hometown said she met a man who had once dated Franklin’s mom. Rumors spread that this man—Richard Hubbard—was Franklin’s real dad. A DNA test found a 99.9% match for paternity.
Hubbard lived in the same area where Franklin grew up. He was just minutes away from a man who could have given him the love and support he had craved all his life.
“To live over half a century with somebody who lived in the same city as you…” Franklin said. “I suffered so much as a young man without guidance. I struggled with love, intimacy, faith, identity. And to know that the answer was less than 10 minutes away.”
“He is a great guy,” he said about Hubbard, who also has a daughter. “She’s been honest about how hard this is for her as well, learning not only does she have a brother but that that brother is Kirk Franklin.”
Having met his real biological father, Franklin was inspired to reconnect with his son, Kerrion, whom he hadn’t spoken to in two years after a public falling out.
“My son is a beautiful soul,” Franklin said. “There are parts of his life that [are] his to share. I am just very proud that I’m seeing him in his own way. He is beginning to reveal and testify to his struggles, his own battles with certain things that have at times cost him. I know many young black men struggle with these same things and as he continues to get help and healing he’s going to help so many. He has me and his grandfather that will be there to help in any way we can.”
Franklin’s documentary is available on his YouTube channel, and his album will be available on October 6.
Kirk Franklin’s upcoming album “Father’s Day” expresses his need for Jesus and his journey to find his faith.
The third song in the album, “Needs,” begins with the declaration, “There’s so many voices out there right now / Telling you what they feel you need / I found the answer’s really simple / And it’s been there the entire time.”
The simple answer the song references is Jesus. After examining his life, he clearly sees that he needs Christ, as he explains.
“I need peace, I need grace / I need strength for one more day / I need patience for this race / I need Jesus,” Franklin cries out in his song. “I need truth that will not change / I need grace when I’m the one to blame / In a crowded room / Someone who knows my name / I need Jesus.”
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