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Diverse crowd turns out for performance



Published: Mon, April 24, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The mayor presented Franklin with a proclamation from city council.

By DEBORA SHAULIS

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Gospel music superstar Kirk Franklin looked at who was rubbing elbows Monday night in the Chevrolet Centre and called it "heaven practice." He referred to the crowd's diversity not in everyday colors of black and white, but the flavors of caramel, chocolate and vanilla.

Likewise, Franklin's uplifting musical blend of gospel, R & amp;B, modern rock, hip-hop, pop and jazz proved to be very palatable for about 2,500 people in attendance.

Perhaps they hungered for an Easter season celebration. Perhaps they were there to experience Franklin's version of an "old-school praise party," in his words.

There was no confusing Franklin with either his old-school peers or contemporaries.

The Fort Worth, Texas, native looked hip, merging styles with his broken-in jeans, long-sleeve shirt and vest with pocket square. Franklin's dancing was hip; he moved with the elasticity of rubber bands in his arms and legs.

His dialogue with the audience was hip, especially as he teased a guy down front for wearing the popular teeth covering known as a grill, but only having what Franklin called a "starter kit."

Joining Franklin

The Grammy-winning Franklin still follows the recipe he concocted at the beginning of his musical career. He had eight female backup singers and three male singers on stage with him, plus a disc jockey and nine musicians. The singers' voices blended with the beauty of a well-rehearsed choir, but rose above the joyous sounds of guitars and drums, horns and keyboards.

Franklin was an energized choir director, speaking words of praise over their singing, egging on the crowd to wave their hands and bob their heads in time with the music.

Franklin's current tour is in support of his new CD, "Hero," but he reached back as far as his 1993 debut album, "Kirk Franklin and the Family," during Monday night's performance. Fans sang their appreciation to songs such as "Silver and Gold."

Before the show ended, Mayor Jay Williams presented Franklin with a Youngstown City Council proclamation. The mayor was accompanied by Councilman Rufus Hudson, D-2nd, and Bishop Norman Wagner, pastor of the city's Mount Calvary Pentecostal Church. Opening acts were Mary Mary, a Grammy Award-winning sibling duo with an infectious gospel-pop vibe, and inspired rap artist Da' T.R.U.T.H. from Cross Movement Records of Philadelphia.

shaulis@vindy.com




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