Kirk Franklin's Raw Journey to Meeting His Father for the First Time at 53: 'I Wanted a Daddy so Bad'
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Grammy Award-winning artist Kirk Franklin is opening up about the trauma, deception, and pain he experienced in his childhood, saying that being orphaned left him broken and living a life full of insecurities, despite his success in the music industry.
In a compelling documentary, Franklin shares his journey on meeting his biological father for the first time in 53 years.
Franklin talks about his "history of trauma" sharing how he grew up being raised by a distant relative, not knowing who his father was, and only seeing his mother a few times a year.
"I would see my biological mother, Debra, maybe once or twice a year," he explained. "When you see your biological parents two or three times a year, it's a scar that never gets to heal because when they leave they are ripping that scar. So you grow up with a lot of rejection issues. You grow up with a lot of 'Why am I not good enough to go with you?'"
He continued, "So it was a very lonely life. The only thing that was my constant was a small piano in the front of the house. That was the beginning of my relationship with God as a little boy."
BELOW: Kirk Franklin Documents His Tear-Filled Journey to Finding His Dad
(Note: This video does contain a few curse words)
Franklin's love of music would take him out of the projects and make him one of the most successful and recognizable names in Gospel music.
But behind closed doors, he grappled with who he was and why he never was loved by his parents.
He told PEOPLE that at the age of six, he was introduced to a man his biological mother said was his biological father.
"I didn't see him again until I was 13 and then he started showing up at concerts after my first album came out," he told the outlet. "I was angry at the fact that I did not have a father and he would dare show up once my life seemed to have some sense of order. Same for my biological mother."
Franklin said that as his career took off, his mother started to show up.
"It was very traumatic for me," he said.
The rocky relationship with the man Franklin thought was his father continued until he died in 2017.
"I buried the man I thought was my father," he shared in the documentary titled, Father's Day: A Kirk Franklin Story. "I flew to Houston and made peace with him."
Franklin continued life believing that his father was dead until earlier this year one of his vocalists attended a funeral in his hometown. At the funeral, she met a man who claimed he dated Franklin's mother at one point.
Then rumors began to swirl that this man, named Richard Hubbard, could be his father.
DNA results showed it to be 99.9% true.
"To live over half a century with somebody who lived in the same city as you..." Franklin told PEOPLE. "I suffered so much as a young man without guidance. I struggled with love, intimacy, faith, and identity. And to know that the answer was less than 10 minutes away."
The documentary captures the emotional first meeting of father and son.
"He didn't even know he had a son. And I didn't even know I had a father," Franklin said of Hubbard, who was 14 or 15 when he was born.
"I was that close to having a daddy," he emotionally shared. "I wanted a daddy so bad. All those sleepless nights....all those times I was messing up in school and life and I had no one to take up for me. All of those times I didn't know what love was."
"Love is a muscle that has to be trained and if it hasn't been trained doesn't mean that when you get introduced to it that now you know how to receive it," Franklin continued. "I think that you can become indoctrinated in trauma."
His mother has refused to accept the results of the DNA test, which in some ways has continued a cycle of trauma.
"She's just very adamant that this man is not my father," Franklin shared. "I have not heard or talked to her since the second test result."
The award-winning artist says meeting his father has caused him to examine his relationship with his children.
This year, he reunited with his eldest son, Kerrion.
The pair have been at odds for several years and it came to a head when Kerrion shared a heated audio conversation with his dad in 2021.
It has been two years since they had spoken.
"I have fathered out of fear the majority of my parenting life," he said. "Because of what I experienced, I was like 'I'll be damned if I let my kids feel that type of pain.' So a lot of times I over-parented and over-performed, bought too many bicycles, ran off too many boyfriends, just wanting to protect."
"I had to learn," Franklin added. "My children have been the best part of my life."
Franklin shared in this documentary that having the ability to express his emotional struggle through music has kept him sane.
"I needed this album," he shared. "I needed to work."
His inspirational gospel album titled "Father's Day" will be released on Oct. 6.
"The title Father's Day has triple meaning," he explained. "The logline is, 'It's what I missed, where I am, and what has always been.'"
And after all he's been through, "even when I want to curse the sky," he says, "I'm still built to believe."
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