Kirk Franklin is known as one of contemporary gospel music's most popular staples, and he is passing on his recipe for success to newcomers the Walls Group.
Ranging in ages from 16 to 23, the quartet, though young in theory, have proven to be mature in practice. Their debut album, Fast Forward, which Franklin executive produced, snagged the No. 1 spot on the gospel sales chart. Instant success of this degree is hard to come by, but the "I Smile" singer credits it to the group's innate familial chemistry.
"There is a unique sound that can come from siblings who sing together all the time," Franklin told BET.com. "They are not aware at the moment that they are actually creating a special sound that takes most people years to create. That's what I heard, and that's why I was all in."
What surprised Franklin more than their ability to effortlessly and collectively collaborate was their ages. The group consists of four siblings; two young men, Darrel, 23; and Paco, 18; and two young women, Rhea, 19; and Ahjah, 16.
"I was blown away first by their age," he said. "The gospel genre doesn't showcase a lot of young talent, so seeing a whole family of kids be so unapologetic about their faith and backing it up with strong, innovative talent was too appealing to pass up."
Perhaps it was their young perspectives that influenced Franklin's decision to bring R&B icon Brandy on board for a massive collaboration. Seeing that they are huge fans of the "Full Moon" songstress, Franklin saw it fit that a collab followed.
"The Walls Group shared with me that they were huge fans of Brandy and that if I could pull off getting her to be a guest on their album it would be a dream come true," he said. "Well, I love trying to make dreams come true! So, I thought of a song idea that would make sense conceptually, and then I reached out to Brandy and shared the vision. She fell in love with it and fell in love with the kids."
This partnership soon came in the form of "God on My Mind," and is a standout on their latest project.
The Walls Group is certainly in good hands as their mentor seems to continue to steer them in the right path, citing "truth" as the means to success.
"I would tell them this: 'Find that place of truth,'" Franklin said when asked of the most sound advice he would offer them. "In every genre, the artists who resonate with people the most are the ones audiences believe are honest... That truth is what will be the [connector] to your audience."
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(Photos from Left: Rob Loud/Getty Images, Kwaku Alston for Sony Music Entertainment)
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