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Kirk Franklin Talks Serving As ‘Messenger’ On Kanye’s ‘Ultralight Beam’

Ralph Bristout

 // Feb 22, 2016

Robb D. Cohen // Robb D. Cohen./Retna Ltd./Corbis

Kirk Franklin is among the A-list lineup of guest stars on Kanye West’s most talked about album, The Life Of Pablo.

But where other featured guests like Chance the Rapper, Rihanna, The Weeknd, and Young Thug provide standout rap verses, song hooks and ad-libs, Franklin, meanwhile, plays more of a pivotal role.

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See, it is within the closing seconds of the invigorating album opener “Ultralight Beam,” that the critically-acclaimed gospel star and minister provides a credited contribution that is simply more than words. “Father,” he hails in prayer, “This is for everyone that feels they’re not good enough… You can never go too far when you can’t come back home again.” With a choir in tow, along with vocals from Chance the Rapper, Kelly Price and The-Dream, Franklin’s uplifting sermon doesn’t just close out the intro by providing the ‘Ooh’s” and Ahh’s,’ but it also winds up infusing a moving spirit throughout the 60-minute album as well. Call it a gift of grace.

“As a Christian, my job is to try to be an example for him,” Franklin tells REVOLT about his contribution to Kanye’s uplifting hymn. “My job is to try to be an example for him wherever I am to never compromise my faith and what I believe as a Christian, and to show that love and that grace of God to anybody and everybody because that love and that grace is available to anybody that wants it.”

Franklin, who picked up his eighth ever Grammy Award last weekend for Best Gospel Performance/Song (“Wanna Be Happy?”), surprised many within the Christian community with his appearance on Kanye’s album. While he’s already commented on the matter, the gospel trailblazer says that his aim is on shining a brighter light.

“It’s not about me,” he says. “All I am is a messenger and ambassador for God. [I’m] far from perfect, so I love working with people that are far from perfect, because that’s how we become perfect in Him. It’s by realizing that without Him [and] without His grace, where would we be, right?”

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Kirk Franklin, whose latest album Losing My Religion is in stores now, is gearing up for an upcoming tour called, “20 Years In One Night.” Celebrating 20-plus year body of work, the 23-date trek kicks off March 15 at Miami’s Jackie Gleason Theater through April 16th at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre. Tickets are available here.

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