Gospel music star Kirk Franklin is enjoying sweet success as a multi-platinum selling, multiple Grammy Award-winning recording artist — one of only a few gospel singers to achieve crossover appeal.
But life has been far from easy, as he recently told NPR's Allison Keyes.
"All of my [childhood] friends are in prison. My sister has a crack cocaine addiction. She was in prison for 13 years," recalls the hitmaker of such songs as "Stomp" and "Revolution." "I come from a family of wounded people, of broken people."
Franklin's struggles — and his journey to rise above them — are the subject of his new book, The Blueprint: A Plan for Living Above Life's Storms.
He recalls being abandoned by his mother as a child and becoming sexually active before becoming a teenager, which led to a youth filled with promiscuity. At age 17, he became a father.
"It became a thing of trying to fill in those love holes," he says.
But after losing a childhood friend to gun violence, Franklin relied on his faith to change his ways. His friend's death, he says, taught him a lesson.
"Death does not discriminate," he recalls, saying it came as an epiphany. "But I was still missing a blueprint."
Franklin says he entered adulthood wanting to "do right," but he found the shortage of positive examples discouraging.
In his book, the 40-year-old hopes to offer young and old insight on better living. He boldly takes on issues of sex, marriage and parenting.
"There's nothing else that man and woman can do that is as powerful as sex, [where] two people can come together and procreate another one of them," says Franklin. "That's a powerful thing."
But he suggests the power of human relationships is too often distorted by many young people living in a sex-crazed culture.
"Sex, when it's not [seen] through a healthy lens, is misinterpreted for love," he explains.
Franklin is experiencing brighter days as an adult — finding wealth as an uber-successful recording artist and personal fulfillment as a husband and father — but his life is still far from immune to life's challenges.
In a famous 2005 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Franklin (with his wife, Tammy, by his side) admitted being addicted to pornography.
Now, he says he's recovered from his addiction and has advice for married couples on surviving turbulent periods — and, particularly, a message for men.
"If [your wife] just feels like she's there just for your sexual release, then she will always be malnourished," he says. "Treat her like [she is] the most powerful, important being on the planet."
Franklin cites his own marriage for example.
"My wife makes me feel like i can climb a mountain, like I'm six feet tall," explains the artist, who says he's really 5-foot-4.
But all in all, his message is that he just wants to help others in their life journey.
"I'm trying to get way ahead of the game for people and say ... this is how the story looks when you make that change," he says.
Support the news
More NPR or Explore Audio.