When Kirk Franklin began working on a new album earlier this year, the Grammy-winning musician had no idea what was in store.
“This is the first time I’ve had a behind-the-scenes videographer capturing content for the making of a project,” Franklin, 53, says of working on his 13th album. “I recorded the first song in March. Then in April, everything shifted and became something I could have never planned for.”
What the cameras ended up capturing was an intense, emotional journey the star went on after suddenly learning who his real biological father was. He also saw it as an opportunity to reconnect with his estranged eldest son Kerrion, 35, whom he hadn’t seen in a decade.
Franklin has compiled the footage from these events into a short documentary streaming Sept. 15 on his YouTube channel ahead of the Oct. 6 release of his new album. Both projects are aptly titled Father’s Day.
Now Franklin is sharing with PEOPLE what all it’s taken to get to this point, along with an exclusive clip of the moment his doctor delivered the news of his biological father’s paternity.
“My life before I had a career was horrific,” says Franklin. Long before he became the guiding voice of gospel music, orchestrating decades of hits like “Revolution” and “Wanna Be Happy?”, Franklin experienced a tough childhood growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, where he was adopted at age 4 by a woman at his church. According to Franklin, his birth mother, then a young teen, was unable to care for him. Though he knew who she was, they rarely connected during his youth and he often felt abandoned.
“I lived being bullied as a kid. I had a learning disorder, I failed out of high school. I got a young lady pregnant when I was 17 and the church crucified me for it,” he says, recalling his early hardships. “It’s like I never had anybody take up for me or who had my back.”
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