Kirk Franklin’s ‘Losing My Religion’ Album Listening Session Recap
It was a crisp Sunday evening in Dallas, TX, as many heavy hitters in both the Gospel industry and the Faith, gathered in the Angelika Film Center for the exclusive private listening session for Kirk Franklin’s 11th studio album, Losing My Religion. The invitation only event was hosted by Gospel singer Erica Campbell, the other half of the GRAMMY Award-Winning duo, Mary Mary.
In Franklin’s 22 years of being in the Gospel Industry, Losing My Religion will be his latest release in five years. The album is set to be released Friday, Nov. 13.
Many gathered downstairs with excitement and anticipation for the evening’s event, as guests greeted one another–waiting to be escorted to the theater room upstairs. Guests made there way into the theater, all being assigned with specific row seatings. Some of the guests included Dr. Tony Evans and his wife, Bishop T.D. Jakes and his wife, singer Anthony Evans, singer Myron Butler, Emmitt Smith and his wife, spoken word artist, singer, and rapper Shy Speaks, Fo Yo Soul Recordings artist The Walls Group, and several others.
Franklin’s wife, Tammy, started off the evening with welcoming everyone in the room and thanking them for supporting her husband. She then asked that we not take any video recording of the listening session, but were free to take pictures, get up, dance, and worship if we’d like. She then passed off the evening to the host, Erica Campbell.
Campbell was then joined by Franklin on the platform where they sat to do a Q&A session. Prior to it, Kirk gave out thank you’s for the project and the many sacrifices that have been made. He thanked his group of singers, leaders in the faith, producers, his wife and his children.
Along with several thank you’s, Franklin surprised his longtime manager and friend, Jessie Hurst, with the creation of a recording studio that will be housed in Arlington, TX, named Uncle Jessie’s Kitchen. The studio is in dedication for all of Hurst’s hard work and sacrifices throughout their two-decades long friendship.
Campbell continued the listening session with asking Franklin, “Why losing my religion?” and jokingly asked if he was leaving the faith. Franklin helped his guests understand that for far too long he lived a life focused heavily on religion, and that he was getting rid of it because he knows that he should be living a life focused on being more like Jesus. He also shared on why it has taken him 5 years to release a project, and sited it was because of fear.
We then moved along from a few questions and began listening to the album. I found it very interesting that the session was housed in a theater room. Though it was a very comfortable environment, I think providing a few moving visuals to the session would have given an additional flare to the listening experience.
As each song played, guests were treated to great production, vocals, melodies, harmony, and literally great music. Many got up, danced, and worshipped together. Three songs in particular seemed to be crowd favorites. “Over”, a more turn-up type song about how God has not forgotten about you, even when difficult situations arise. “My World Needs You” featuring Sarah Reeves, Tasha Cobbs and Tamela Mann, had guests standing in sovereign worship to God. While “Intercession” brought Campbell to tears.
The listening session went on and off with a Q&A session in between 2-3 tracks, with Franklin revealing more and more about his musical thinking process and his faith. When it comes to how and why Kirk is so open and honest with his writing, he revealed that his song lyrics help him heal, and that he “heals as he reveals.” And when asked about how he pairs the right voices with the right songs, he talked about hearing songs in sequences (church, hype, etc.), and just hoping that he’s right with his pairings.
Campbell continued to dig deeper in the thought process of Franklin’s mind and asked if he had a target audience for his music. Franklin chimed in by saying that he looks at what’s going on in our society, and he tries to stay aware and conscious of that. Because of that awareness, he is able to have “intelligent arguments about what’s going on from a Christian point-of-view.” Franklin continued to go on by sharing testimonies that he’s heard from fans, and letting his guests know that he makes sure the music is always about God.
The listening session concluded with Campbell praying/speaking over the impact the album would bring, and speaking over Franklin and his great influence.
“The bruises you have taken. You have opened doors to so many gospel artists, including myself and my sister,” said Campbell.
As the event came to a close, Franklin showcased the music video for the album’s lead single “Wanna Be Happy?”. I enjoyed the video, but I would have liked to have seen it aired during the listening section, just because some guests weren’t paying attention to the video (mostly because it’s been out for a couple of weeks), but also because it’s the lead single and everyone already knows the song. Thus, the viewing experience would not have taken away from the listening experience.
Overall, the listening session was a success. Franklin was very personable and intentional with everyone’s time, as he greeted and took pictures on the red carpet with all who attended the private event.