Church Boy
The Testimony of Kirk Franklin

Nearly everyone who is familiar with the music of Kirk Franklin has an opinion on the matter. Few, however, will argue that Kirk Franklin hasn't been instrumental in revolutionising Gospel music. For that reason alone, this autobiography deserved to be written.

From the outset, Franklin is clear that the reason for the book is to testify "that God and only God can take nobodies and use them for His glory". And testimony is what this book is all about. No-one is claiming that this is great literature. At times repetitive and sometimes wandering, it will not satisfy those looking for a masterwork of prose. But that is not the point. This is a real and honest heart-pouring by the man at the forefront of Gospel music today.

Franklin tells of his painful childhood, growing up under the loving care of his great-aunt Gertrude, and the series of traumas he endured in vain attempts to fit in with his peers.

Although never sensational, he does not hold back in telling it like it was, confessing his failures and shortcomings, the painful childhood name-calling, and his struggle with the flesh. Having grown up in the church, Franklin testifies how God had and continues to have mercy on him, opening his eyes to see Jesus Christ as the one and only way out. Along the way, Franklin gives us some insight into his various childhood friendships and relationships, and how these led to the formation of The Family. His reflections on, and gratitude to God for his wife Tamara and his own 'Franklin family' aIso figure in prominently. He describes how God used people such as Milton Biggham, Fred Hammond and V. Michael McKay throughout his life.

Throughout the book, Franklin does not shy away from debates such as homosexuality in the church arts community, church legalism and its implications on today's youth, and his perspective on the media circus that often surrounds him. While never judgmental, he presents his God-given perspective throughout. This head-on, honest tackling of heavy issues, combined with a peppering of fascinating and relevant anecdotes, make this book a joy to read. Fans, even non-fans, will surely find it a worthwhile effort to read this 232 paperback, for it is refreshing to see Kirk Franklin from Kirk Franklin's own eyes.

An added bonus to the book (which it would be unfair to reveal here) is the explanation of why the O.D. Wyatt High School Gospel Choir is featured so prominently on many tracks of Franklin's latest album, The Nu Nation Project. So, perhaps while you're listening to the hottest album on the gospel charts today, you might want to investigate the background and perspective of the church boy who's responsible for those revolutionary grooves.

Book Written by Kirk Franklin, with Jim Nelson Black  

Word Publishing

reviewed by Stan North

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