This city has been good to Kirk, so I’mma give y’all ‘errything,’” contemporary gospel star Kirk Franklin said before what appeared to be a sold-out crowd at Peabody Opera House Tuesday night.
He poked fun at the heavy “r” annunciation often associated with black St. Louis. But he also let the crowd know that he takes the love the city has given him very seriously during the local stop of his Twenty Years in One Night Tour.
“Y’all have supported my ministry from day one,” Franklin told the crowd as he powered through his vast catalog by way of a sextet of singers and a full band that included a horn section.
The show was part testimony, part worship service and two parts concert as it stretched on for more than two hours.
Based on the title of the tour, it could be assumed that Franklin would deliver a run through of his greatest hits. He also managed to provide the why along with the what.
When he came on the scene in 1993, there was nobody like him.
His gospel had a groove that was blended with R&B – and more radically, hip-hop.
At the show he gave a bit of insight as to how he revolutionized the genre by catering Christian music to his generation’s taste.
He was reared in the church, but raised in an era where rap ruled urban radio.
“I thought, ‘What would happen if I took the music I like and paired it with the God I love’?”
In doing so, he became an overnight sensation – and one of the biggest names in gospel.
Fans were probably shocked to learn that the music behind his song “Whatcha Lookin’ 4” was actually inspired by Tupac’s “How Do You Want It.”
He worked in Notorious B.I.G., Junior Mafia and Kendrick Lamar as he talked about the influence hip-hop had – and continues to have – on is interpretation of holy music.
He is now an elder in the subgenre he pioneered, but his youthful edge was apparent over the course of the night.