Exclusive: Kirk Franklin gives first interview since threatening son Kerrion in leaked call

Kirk Franklin is speaking out in his first interview since a leaked argument between himself and his estranged son, Kerrion Franklin, made headlines last week.

In an advance clip from Wednesday’s episode of “Tamron Hall,” shared exclusively with USA TODAY, the 16-time-Grammy-winning gospel music artist provided more details about his family’s relationship with Kerrion, whom he physically threatened during a recent NSFW phone call.

In the call, which Kerrion, 32, posted on Instagram Saturday, Franklin, 51, can be heard saying, “I will break your neck, (racial slur). Don’t you ever disrespect me.” The musician posted a video apology later that day, saying his family has had a “toxic relationship” with Kerrion.

Accompanied by his wife Tammy Collins, Franklin said on Hall’s talk show that many people in his inner circle have been aware “of the tension and the challenges that we’ve been going through as a family privately.”

According to Franklin, he and Collins started sending Kerrion to therapy when he was a teenager, and his son’s been in and out of counseling for over 20 years.

“When he became a grown man, his disrespect became more aggressive,” Franklin said, adding that sometimes he and Kerrion will go a year or more without talking.

“I respect Kerrion. I’m not Kerrion’s equal though… I’m his dad,” he said. “I can’t hear you when you are extremely aggressive when we’re communicating.”

No matter how “agitated” or “frustrated” their relationship gets, the musician said he will never stop trying to help his son or picking up his phone calls — even if these conversations can “kind of derail.”

Gospel music legend Kirk Franklin apologizes for threatening son in leaked audio clip

“I never want him to feel what I felt not having a father,” Franklin said. “It’s important for me, because what if that call is the call that things change? So I never know. And I never want to give up.”

Franklin found success with choir group Kirk Franklin & The Family and later had a solo career. Through the years, he has collaborated with Whitney Houston, R. Kelly and Mary J. Blige.

In a lengthy Instagram caption accompanying the video of their argument, Kerrion explained that “this is why I’m done. No father should speak to their children like this.”

On Wednesday's episode of "Tamron Hall," Kirk Franklin, accompanied by his wife Tammy Collins, left, speaks out about a leaked argument between himself and his estranged son Kerrion Franklin that made headlines last week. (Photo: "Tamron Hall" Show)

“I don’t think I’ll ever trust my father to be alone around him ever again,” he added. “I didn’t want to do this… no matter what (people) think I pray my dad deals with his deep hatred toward me. I don’t feel safe around him at all.” 

Franklin said in his video apology that the audio recording did not include audio from the family therapist, whom he said he called to “try to help.” Kerrion said in a post Sunday he was the “only (one) that ever called and tried to go to counseling,” accusing his father of playing “mind games.” 

“I’m not perfect,” Franklin concluded in his apology video. “I’m human, and I’m going to make mistakes, and I’m trying to get it right. Please keep me and my family in your prayers.”

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Contributing: Hannah Yasharoff

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