I will live, and not die
I will win with tears in my eyes
I'll be judged and criticized
Only by those too afraid to try - F.A.V.O.R.
Kirk Franklin is a gospel artist from Fort Worth Texas who became a church music director at the age of 11. Over the course of his career, he has won 13 Grammy’s and 21 Dove Awards and he shows no sign of slowing down. Long Live Love is his 12th studio album and has already received many critical acclaims.
Long Live Love continues with Kirk Franklin’s unique blending of gospel, choir, and hip-hop elements. Each song is full of inspiration and encouragement. Trouble and hardship are acknowledged while God’s promises and presence are also professed.
Franklin arranges the music to help the listener feel surrounded by a community of voices cheering them on. “F.A.V.O.R.” and “Love Theory” start the album with infectious energy and draws worshippers in. Several slower ballads follow. Franklin is not shy getting right to the heart of the struggle, offering God’s words as encouragement no matter what the hardship. After three ballads, he picks up the energy again with “OK,” a song that includes pointed critiques of the capitalist American dream. “Spiritual” begins with a smooth bass groove that builds one of the funkiest tracks on the album including an impromptu jam at the end. The album ends with “Wynter’s Promise,” a song of longing towards heaven because of a lost loved one.
Each track speaks biblical truth and offers encouragement to those struggling. Franklin’s masterful arrangements stand above much of the contemporary music being created. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest gospel singers and arrangers of the 20th century. Yet in some significant moments, Franklin’s voice is muted by others.
When accepting his latest Dove Award for Gospel Artist of the Year in October 2019, Franklin took 45 seconds to highlight a recent police shooting in his hometown. He asked the audience to pray for the black victim’s family and the police officer’s family. The awards ceremony edited the TV broadcast to remove that part of his speech. He made a similar prayer for racial reconciliation at the 2016 Dove Awards, which also was removed. Franklin decided, in view of these two omissions, to boycott further Dove Awards. “Not only did they edit my speech, they edited the African-American experience,” he told the press at the time.
While we don’t fully understand the reasons for these omissions (the Dove Awards apologized, said the edits were unintentional and vowed to do better in the future), the harm is real. Franklin’s voice is too valuable and encouraging for our culture to be quieted and ignored. The album Long Live Love is one avenue we can hear this voice. (Inspiration RCA and Fo Yo Soul Recordings)