Multi-platinum Gospel singer Kirk Franklin ended 2013 by appearing at Nelson Mandela's memorial service in Johannesburg, singing his hit "My Life is in Your Hands." It capped a relatively quiet year compared to the year prior, which saw Franklin on tour in support of his Grammy-winning 2011 release, Hello Fear, his fifth solo album. Fans who bought tickets to those concerts saw Franklin perform on a package tour dubbed The King's Men Tour with Donny McClurkin, Marvin Sapp and Israel Houghton.
Over the course of his two-decade music career, Texas native Franklin has been broadening the reach and scope of Gospel music. He's brought a more contemporary spin to the genre, and has found success by infusing his music with elements of modern soul, R&B and hip-hop. Franklin's musical talent was evident from a very young age; he was offered his first record deal at age 7, but the aunt who raised him turned it down. He continued to sing in his church choir, and signed his first recording contract when he was in his early 20s, after organizing the 17-member choir Kirk Franklin and the Family in 1992. The band's first album topped the U.S. Gospel charts for 42 weeks. Franklin went solo in 2001, first scoring and producing the film soundtrack Kingdom Come. His solo debut album, 2002's The Rebirth of Kirk Franklin, was an immediate crossover hit, topping Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart while also hitting No. 1 on the Gospel chart.