“Let my people dance,” Kirk Franklin admonished an overzealous usher at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, who kept gesturing for members of the sold-out crowd to clear the aisles and return to their seats despite the Grammy Award-winning superstar petitioning them to flood the rows of the famed venue to let loose.
“If you keep telling them to stop, I’m going to come down there,” continued Franklin, asking the venue to raise the lights so he could see his people. “And if you let them dance, I’ll have a Christmas bonus for you at the end of the night.”
The 49-year-old Gospel megastar began the show with a simple introduction and alone on the stage. He thanked those in attendance for selling out the venue and for their years of constant support.
“It means so much to me that you spend your hard earned money to come and see your boy. I don’t take that for granted,” he emoted.
After speaking about how honored he was to make his full concert debut at The Kennedy Center, the Franklin began to petition the audience to find out which era of almost 30-year career did they want him to focus on. He then had audio snippets play from his early days being featured on material he wrote and sang on for Georgia Mass Choir, to his commercial breakout song “Why We Sing,” the pop smash “Stomp,” and ultimately some songs from his latest album, “Long Live Love.”
From that moment on, the Fort Worth, Texas-bred songwriter/musician/arranger/producer was backed by his full band and five background vocalists and embarked on almost two full hours of mostly hits, a few Gospel hymns, and the occasional song from his most recent release.
Hits like “Brighter Day,” “Looking for You,” and “Hosanna” took those in attendance back to the time in which that music impacted their lives. And while the capacity crowd and his impeccable backup ensemble sang along, Franklin danced about and kept the audience energized.
A show highlight was when Franklin sat down at the piano and intermixed several classic Gospel hymns and his own early songs like “Now Behold The Lamb.” That moment in the concert stirred the crowd so much; that his band began to play praise music that sent turned the dignified Kennedy Center into a sanctified Pentecostal church.
After encouraging those facing obstacles to tell their worries “bye, bye, bye, bye, bye” while performing “Imagine Me,” Franklin closed the show on an upbeat vibe with his recent single “Love Theory” and the infectiously joyous “I Smile.”
Backstage following the show, Franklin told greeters that he was humbled that he had sold out his first full concert at The Kennedy Center, especially having just played the Washington, DC area in late July on tour just 11 miles away at the MGM National Harbor.