Gospel singers Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond delivered a meaningful, calming musical session with the latest edition of Verzuz, Sunday evening, May 31.
As the hit online battle series branched out from R&B and hip-hop, recently featuring 90s rivals Beenie Man and Bounty Killer in a reggae clash, organizers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland first made the announcement Friday, May 29.
"Swizz & I had to call a few of our friends!! Join Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, and Bishop TD Jakes for this Sunday's special edition of VERZUZ - THE HEALING," Timbo wrote on IG.
"The Healing" gospel music session follows George Floyd's death after an arrest attempt by officers of the Minneapolis law enforcement. With the protests spreading nationwide in its sixth day and states activating their local National Guard detachments, the latest "Verzuz" battle offers much-needed healing.
Bishop T.D. Jakes, author-filmmaker and the bishop of "The Potter's House," opened the event with messages of encouragement and hope. He noted that while there is "darkness everywhere," he invited everyone to "pray for light because we have seen too much darkness, from Trayvon [Martin] to George Floyd. From 100K people dead from Covid... Lord knows we've seen too much darkness."
Bishop Jakes also alluded to Floyd's incident, sharing how "sometimes I feel like that knee is on my back, and I can't breathe." He then led everyone: We pray back the darkness, we pray back the dark clouds."
"It will not be long until joy comes into your heart, our communities, our lives, our homes, our churches. Joy is coming in the morning. And we will breathe again. Amen," bishop ends the prayer.
Franklin also let out a short message before the exchange of tracks and said: "It's been a painful week, it's been a tough week. We want to take a moment of healing for you." He acknowledged the pain of the people and offered 42 songs in the Sunday Verzuz session.
Variety once hailed Kirk Dewayne Franklin as a reigning king of the urban gospel. The 50-year-old choir director and gospel artist is known for his work with a variety of choirs, including God's Property and One Nation Crew.
Throughout his career, he has earned 15 Grammy Awards, BET Awards, and Soul Train Awards. He has released the commercially successful gospel singles "Why We Sing," "Declaration (This is It)!" as well as the reimagining of Bill Withers hits "Lean on Me" and "Lovely Day," the latter being titled "Gonna Be A Lovely Day" instead.
On the other hand, Fred Hammond has been in the industry a while longer than Franklin, being a gospel artist and a bass player. One of the most iconic names in the gospel music scene, he is known for incorporating the good news with elements of R&B, hip-hop, disco, and pop in his singles.
His musical journey involved long-term tenures with the gospel groups Commissioned and The Winans, participating in most of the albums released by both groups. He also produced the single "Make Me Like the Moon," the hit gospel ballad co-written by Chanté Moore and Kenny Lattimore for their album "Uncovered/ Covered." As an artist, some of his hit songs include "Free to Worship," "I Feel Good," and "Love Unstoppable."