Today, Kirk Franklin released a blockbuster short film revealing the dark truth of his paternity entitled, “Father’s Day: A Kirk Franklin Story. In the film, Franklin is not a top selling, platinum certified arena filling artist. He’s a man in search of himself. “Where did I come from?” and “Who am I?” are questions that bring men to their an early end when unanswered. Kirk Franklin, the man accused of not only taking gospel music “too far but further than ever imagined lays bare the soul shattering pain of an unresolved paternity search.
Simultaneously, the film chronicles his journey of completing his 13th album while also coming to terms with the painful truth of his identity and paternity. At one point, the search for truth preempts recording as he traces the whispers from Riverside to nearby in Arlington to find the man he can safely call his father. Through a series of fateful events, Kirk Franklin discovers that the man he knew as his father was not and that there may be some truth to the rumors circulating throughout Fort Worth and the “Riverside” community. These rumors asserted that the man we would all come to later know as Rick Hubbard may be his father.
Mr. Hubbard proactively took a paternity test and sent the results to Franklin who then took a paternity test to match against Hubbard’s. The test confirmed paternity but brought more questions than closure. Franklin then discovered another barrier to understanding was trying to resolve his strained relationship with his mother. She was in no mood to make the situation better and remained defiant in denial of the results.
Kirk Franklin has been very transparent about his paternity journey and this short film takes us the deepest into the heart and mind of one of the world’s most electrifying entertainers in any genre. With “Losing My Religion,” Franklin revisited his catalog and journey through “Twenty Years in One Night” and an unmatched amalgam of world-class talent. With “Father’s Day” Franklin’s 13th album, he punctuates the parasitical identity crisis that has been a part of his 30 year journey, woven into each lyric, phase and phrase.
“Father’s Day” as an album and short film both matter because sonship matters to Kirk Franklin and it always has. Unlike many men who have compartmentalized the existential crisis created by paternal absenteeism, Kirk’s transparency reveals the innate desire of sons for their fathers and the deep pain experienced because the desire never truly goes away. Not even when you have spiritual fathers who fill in the gap like Dr. Tony Evans. I’ll never forget watching Kirk literally sitting at Dr. Evans’ feet asking questions and inquiring about subjects later addressed in “Losing My Religion.”
Reflecting on the aftermath of meeting his father, Kirk says, “He didn’t even know he had a son and I didn’t even know I had a father.” He went on to say, “I was that close to having a daddy. I wanted a daddy so bad!” Franklin discovered that his father lives close to his studio and that his youngest son played with one of his neighbors at a nearby house.
This ordeal wouldn’t be complete without meeting with his mother, so through his aunt Sandra, he met with his estranged mother, Debra for the first time in 23 years. Unfortunately, closure wasn’t gained and he made a painful decision in the wake of their second meeting which included both his mother and father. The harsh reality of Kirk Franklin’s story is that he spent majority of his life without either parent, though both of them were alive and never truly far from him, at all. He said of this endeavor, “I don’t want anybody being able to have a conversation about this except for me.” If you’ve ever been the subject of questionable paternity, you know exactly what he means by that.
Regardless of your station in life, you’re never more than the reduction of an illegitimate child when you’re the topic of those clandestine conversations. Knowing this, it’s no wonder that you become as he stated, “...indoctrinated in trauma that you become institutionalized in your trauma.“
While closing one chapter, there was yet another to bring closure to. Franklin’s strained relationship with his oldest son, Kerrion was also brought to a resolution in this short film. After two years, the two men not only loved on each other but relished the revelation that changed everything about their relationship. Tearfully, Kerrion confessed that “this is the only thing that I need that’s been missing from my life. There’s nothing I ask God for every single day I wake up. I have everything I want except you and my grandfather.”
Father’s Day on the calendar has passed, but October 6, 2023 is a day many will be looking forward to as Kirk Franklin tackles sonship from a new, possibly healed perspective. After watching “Father’s Day: A Kirk Franklin Story,” what are your thoughts? Do you think this will convince men and women to reach out to their estranged fathers and mothers or for them to finally accept the children they’ve denied for years?Watch and share your feedback with us.