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Lecrae joins Kirk Franklin's boycott of Christian Dove Music Awards and GMA respond

by Cara Bentley

Kirk Franklin is a Texan gospel artist who led the choir The Family and has released solo albums.

Franklin posted a video on Instagram this week explaining why he would be boycotting the Christian music event, the Dove Awards, and the Christian TV channel Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) until tangible plans are put in place to "protect and champion diversity".

He won the award for best gospel artist at the Dove Awards in 2016, the Christian version of the Grammys, but said that some of his acceptance speech was edited out on television when he mentioned the killings of black people by police officers.

He was referring to the killings of two black men by police officers; Philando Castile and Walter Scott.

He announced he would be boycotting the event and the channel and said it was his personal decision and he wasn't calling others to join him.

However, other Christian artists have supported him, including rapper Lecrae, Natalie Grant and Marvin Sapp.

Lecrae uploaded a video on Thursday, saying: "People have been wondering about my support of my friend and my brother Kirk Franklin and his decision to halt his participation in the GMA awards."

After explaining the context of the awards, he said: "I support my brother Kirk and until we have a conversation about these issues, I won't be able to participate either, that's just where I stand."

"I know the issues that he's wrestling with and I agree and support him wholeheartedly" and added that he thinks the industry can and will do better.

Jackie Patillo, President & Executive Director of the Gospel Music Association said in a statement: "Due to our broadcast window, we had to significantly edit the Dove telecast to 2 hours, which aired Sunday, October 20th. In light of this, we understand that many were disappointed because there were so many memorable moments and noteworthy portions of acceptance speeches absent.

"We accept the responsibility of our error. Although completely unintentional, we understand it caused great harm and deeply wounded many in the African American and Gospel community. As well, it left a general perception that we are not concerned with key social issues that affect people of colour. It is not our intent to disregard or silence any of our artists, and we are deeply saddened by this perception and are committed to change this."

She also said that the unedited versions are available.

UK worship leader Noel Robinson told Premier how he felt when he heard about Franklin's decision: "He's one of the leading lights in the US gospel community, not just US, but globally. So, I felt that for him to say something about it and address it in the way, there must have been some real issue to be taken with the Dove awards and people within the gospel community."

Robinson, who is signed to the Integrity label, added that he could relate to both Kirk Franklin and Lecrae's comments that in music 'Christian' was often associated with white artists and 'Gospel' synonymous with black artists.

"I'm on the journey of having conversations about this right across the body of Christ...we have many festivals here in the UK and many of the artists from the black church community are not put on those festivals but what's preferred are the American black artists but that's something that we need to address here in the UK."

Regarding the Dove Awards situation, Robinson said: "I believe that a discussion will be had and I believe that apologies will be made and I believe that it will be highlighted."

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