Home » News » NEWS + PHOTOS: Kirk Franklin Kicks Off ’20 Years In One Night Tour’ with A BLAST! See Photos

NEWS + PHOTOS: Kirk Franklin Kicks Off ’20 Years In One Night Tour’ with A BLAST! See Photos

Legendary
gospel singer Kirk Franklin kicked off his highly anticipated ’20 Years
In One Night’ tour on March 19, and he literally shut it down for God’s
glory.
Briana Younger of The Washington Post gives a good description of how it went down at Warner Theatre last Saturday.
There was no room for sanctimony in the sold-out Warner Theatre
on Saturday night. Everything in Kirk Franklin’s show, from the gospel
artist’s ultra-casual black jogger pants and collared tunic to his
pop-lock and milly-rock dances, was meticulously coordinated in defiance
of many churches’ stuffy and judgmental reputations. He insisted that
the audience members shed their self-consciousness and let loose as
well, reassuring them by saying: “It’s okay. You’re at a Kirk concert.”
But his reputation preceded him.
 It was 1997 when Franklin’s “Stomp (Remix)”
exploded with a thundering funkadelic sample and a verse from Salt of
famed hip-hop trio Salt-N-Pepa, and it still propels people from their
seats 19 years later. Although it was the penultimate song in Franklin’s
set, it’s the tune that determined the show’s tone, just as it also
determined the trajectory of his career. He has spent two decades
spurning the rules of a genre that historically fashioned itself around a
conservative religious aesthetic, effectively bridging the gap between
gospel music and youth culture. 
Never one to mince words, Franklin poked fun at his status as
gospel’s black sheep throughout the show and faced his latest
controversy head-on. He altered the lyrics of the rallying “Give Me” to
include the line “If we humble ourselves, anyone can be saved, even
Kanye,” referring to his recent collaboration with the often-criticized
Kanye West and subsequent defense of the rapper. On Instagram, a portion
of the caption on a photo of the two read, “To a lot of my Christian
family, I’m sorry he’s not good enough, Christian enough, or running at
your pace.”

Inclusiveness is one of Franklin’s biggest draws.
He never shies away from his imperfections nor from those who are also
openly imperfect. He nodded to another rapper, Kendrick Lamar — whose
music has gospel leanings of its own — as he recalled the familiar
conflicting emotions he felt when leaving church as a child only to be
enticed by hip-hop as soon as he got in the car. It was a moment of
candor that seemed to resonate across the room and showed the sort of
transparency that makes his music so accessible.
 
Gospel artist Kirk Franklin performs at the
Warner Theatre as part of his 20 Years in One Night tour. (Kyle
Gustafson/For The Washington Post)
 
Franklin dotted the night with lighthearted jokes and playfully
directed his live band and dependable choir, the audience, as he ran
through his catalogue of seemingly endless gospel hits. At moments, the
blink-and-miss-it snippets of songs felt like a tease, but doing justice
to 23 years of music in two hours would otherwise be an impossible
task.
Gospel
artist Kirk Franklin, who performed Saturday at the Warner Theatre,
released his 12th studio album late last year. (Kyle Gustafson/For The
Washington Post)
 
Despite the title of his latest Grammy-winning album, “Losing My
Religion,” anywhere Franklin appears is assuredly a gospel event, and
this was no exception. In between the two-stepping and chart-toppers
such as “I Smile,” “Looking For You” and “Wanna Be Happy?,” worship and
testifying spread from corner to corner. It was a celebration for fans
who understand — just as Franklin always has — that praise can be both
humbly prayerful and a triumphant party.
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