Eighteen years into his recording career, modern gospel/R&B artist Kirk Franklin says inspiration is indeed coming from a higher source.
"I'm comfortable now, at this season in my life, letting God drive and sitting in the passenger seat," notes the Fort Worth-born Franklin, 41, who's won five Grammy Awards, 13 Dove Awards and 15 Stellar Awards while leading contemporary choir ensembles such as the Family, God's Property and One Nation Crew.
"It's the best way; instead of trying to force it and contrive it, when the music flows like water, you never have to worry about what's coming next."
That faith served Franklin well on his latest album, "Hello Fear," which is his first since 2002 to debut in the Billboard 200, with his first Hot 100-charting single, "I Smile," in six years. The album also includes guest vocals from Michigan ministers and gospel singers Marvin Winans and Marvin Sapp.
"God just really dropped some incredible song ideas in my heart," recalls Franklin, who's also the host of BET's "Sunday Best." "I was walking by the piano one day, and that's when the lyrics came to (the song) 'Hello Fire'...and I was just like, 'Whoo..!' That really caught my attention and started things off.
"The whole body of work for me is trying to tell people that fear may knock on the door, but we don't have to answer -- even now in this country, where there's a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. But it's not something we can do on our own. We're just humans. It takes the power of God inside of us to stand up to that (fear). That's what I'm trying to put out there now."
Kirk Franklin, Amber Bullock, Isaac Carree, Deon Kipping and Jason Nelson perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23, at Greater Grace, Temple, 23500 W. Seven Mile Road, Detroit. Tickets are $50, $35 and $25. Call 313-543-6000 or visit www.greatergrace.org.
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