Kirk Franklin wants to inspire with gospel music festival at Toyota Music Factory in May 

Kirk Franklin is just as excited today as he was on the day he first thought of starting a gospel music festival.

"15 years, " he says. "Yeah, so it's been around, but we were waiting for a venue like this to be built."

It has been 15 years since Franklin had the idea for the Exodus Music and Arts Festival. He will headline and host its inaugural outing May 26. "This" is the Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory in Irving.

"I've performed all over the world. I've been in venues from Amsterdam to Budapest to the East Coast, West Coast, and I've never been in a venue that serves so many styles of music in one," he says. ""I was the very first artist to walk on the stage at this complex as it was being built ... so I feel very humbled."

TMF fits into his vision of Exodus as "like a spiritual Coachella," he says.

"We're going to have a day full of music and entertainment and humor and laughter and inspiration. It's going to be a wonderful day for the entire family, no matter your taste, your style, your ethnicity."

Gospel music plays its part in other national festivals. There is Essence in New Orleans and MegaFest in Dallas. But it will take the lead in North Texas.

"The genre has never had a national event that is committed and dedicated to that style of music," Franklin says.

Exodus, which has partnered with Live Nation Urban, has all the trappings to become a major music event. The big names include childhood friend and Grammy-winning singer Tamela Mann of Mansfield; Tye Tribbett; Marvin Sapp; and Erica Campbell. The schedule also includes a local artist showcase, presentations, comedy and music.

Yes, Franklin has aimed squarely at success, but he has other targets, too.

"We want it to be a big event for the faith-based community and for people that may be searching, people that are seekers, for people that are maybe just inquisitive, that maybe they want to know what's going on with this message of hope," Franklin says. "With so much negativity, sometimes hope may be a foreign word, you know, because you haven't heard it in a very long time. So we're going to come together as one: skin color, age, race, size, whatever it is."

He wants people to feel what he feels.

He wants the festival to leave a mark.

"You will leave inspired and you will leave motivated," he says. "You will leave stronger and more powerful."

The stars are aligned to propel Exodus onward. Franklin, once a polarizing figure with a new brand of gospel music and now an ambassador of the genre, even again hosting the Stellar Gospel Music Awards on March 24, has heaven in his eyes talking about the future of the festival.

"We want to make it, long-term, a full weekend event," he says. "I'm just letting God kinda write the script and I just want to show up and do my part."

For more news, views and reviews, follow @DawnBurkes on Twitter.

Goes Well With...

#

Exodus Music and Arts Festival with Kirk Franklin / Tye Tribbett / Marvin Sapp / Tamela Mann

#Music

Pentatonix, Snarky Puppy, Kirk Franklin win Grammys at early ceremony

#Music

Kirk Franklin headlines benefit in Haiti tonight after releasing single, 'My World Needs You' 

#Music

7 faces of Kirk Franklin, as seen during expressive Dallas concert

#Music

Kirk Franklin co-hosts and wins big at 47th annual GMA Dove Awards, which will air Oct. 16

#Music

Up close and personal with Kirk Franklin at Dallas rehearsal: talking gospel music, Kanye, Trump and more

#Music

The stage is set for Fort Worth native and gospel superstar Tamela Mann

#Music

Leon Bridges' powerful video for gospel tune 'River' will bring you to tears

#Music

The Relatives, West Dallas' funk-gospel pioneers, say 'Goodbye World' on April 15

#State Fair

Get inspired when gospel takes over the main stage on Thursday at State Fair of Texas

>