On September 14th, Tori Kelly is set to release her new album Hiding Place. You can already find the music video for the album’s title track “Never Alone” on YouTube, a simple but beautiful black white representation of the always maturing Tori Kelly singing alongside of a choir and none other than Kirk Franklin. Yes people. Kirk Franklin. Tori teamed up with quintessential gospel man himself. In fact half of the songs written on Hiding Place came from Kirk, while the other half were co-written by the pair, marking the first time in the history of Kirk Franklin’s illustrious career in which he co-wrote a song with another musician. Mad props to you Tori Kelly. Saying this, the feel of the album diverges aesthetically from Tori’s previous work Unbreakable Smile—which premiered at number two on the Billboard 200—of course, moving from pop into the gospel genre, a homage in a way for Tori, returning to the gospel roots which have influenced her ever since she was a child. Kirk, however, labeled the album as something entirely new, “Hope Pop,” and given all that is taking place in the world, is there anything else more needed than hope? Personally, I would love it if my hair even partly resembled Tori’s exquisite bouncing locks. What beautiful hair. But this is but a mere wish of mine. Not a need. The world needs hope, and Tori Kelly and Kirk Franklin are looking to provide a glimpse into what hope is and can provide. Needless to say, here at SHEEN Magazine, we were thrilled, honored even, to have been able to chat with Tori about the new album and those interesting pants she wore in “Never Alone.”
Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your upcoming album Hiding Place?
Well, it’s a gospel album, and I grew up listening to gospel. It’s a big part of how I started singing and most definitely influenced the way I sing. I have always wanted to do some sort of gospel project, even if it was just a single song. I didn’t know the opportunity would come up so quickly. But while I was writing during the last couple years, for my other album, I basically reached out to my team and said, ‘Hey what if we just put a gospel song on here?’ Everyone was super into it. They reached out to Kirk Franklin because he’s who you think of when you think of gospel music. He’s been doing it for so long, and I was super excited since I’ve been a fan of his forever. He was super down. I flew out to Dallas. We hit it off right away and basically, one song or even the idea of one song turned into this gospel EP, which then turned into an eight-song album. It felt like it kind of came out of nowhere. I love it. I loved working with him. The whole experience was amazing.
So gospel music has always been a part of your life?
The first artist I remember listening to, I was three years old, but I remember singing to an artist named Crystal Lewis. She also worked with Kirk back in the day. I listened to both of them a lot. I just fell in love with her voice. I listened to other things as well growing up. Anything soulful. I love soulful music and R&B. Yeah. Gospel has definitely played a huge part in inspiring me to sing.
Why did you choose Hiding Place as the album’s title?
I named it Hiding Place for a couple of reasons. There was a verse which has stuck around with me, a bible verse I’ve just always loved. I’ve had it written down in my phone, but I didn’t even connect the two, the verse with the project, until later. The verse is Psalm 32:7, “You are a hiding place for me and you surround me with songs of deliverance.” One translation even says, “You surround me with songs which make me feel free.” I just love the idea of God being this hiding place, this place of peace and safety and refuge. That’s really how I feel when I’m singing, any song, but especially when I’m singing about God when I’m singing gospel music. The verse is really the staple for this project. Another thing I realized is that so much of gospel music involves the struggle. Gospel is rooted in singing about the hard times. The songs aren’t there to make you feel good. Even though they should still make you feel good. Some are really fun actually. But they also come from a hard place. I think that’s what I love so much about gospel, because you’re singing from a place of struggle. It’s like you’re crying out to God, and asking, ‘Why is this happening?’ and ‘How I do get through this? God help me get through this.’ This played a really big part in naming the album Hiding Place, because these songs, for me, they are my hiding place.
There’s a point in the “Never Alone” music video, right before Kirk Franklin comes in, where you sing, “Broken will be beautiful.” Can you expound upon what this means?
That line is one of my favorites in the song. The song, by the way, is the first song Kirk and I actually wrote together. But I really love the line because, well, the line before says, ‘If all things work together in the end, the broken will be beautiful.’ If this is true, then all this mess, what seems like a mess, when things are falling apart, yeah, I don’t know what to do, but in the end, everything will actually be for my good. It will be beautiful. It will be a part of my story, the story I get to tell. I get to say, look at what I’ve come from. Look at the things God has done. The previous line is taken from scripture, Romans 8:28, ‘We know all things work together for the good of those who love God.’ I just love that. We wanted to put that into the song. I love the line so much. It changes your perspective. What seems broken is actually, can actually be made beautiful.
Speaking about the music video, can you tell us a little about those pants you wore? Was there anything behind the paint splotches which were on yours and Kirk’s clothes?
That’s so funny. No one’s really picked up on that, but I think that’s awesome and hilarious. The pants, we just really liked them. There’s no special significance. They were just cool. But I walked out, I literally just walked out heading for the set, and then Kirk walked out. The paint splatters were on his shirt, just like the ones on my pants, and we started busting out laughing. It was just such a funny coincidence.
While listening to Tori speak, I couldn’t help but take note of her humility, likewise the calming quality of her voice. In this calm, I sensed joy, peace, and hope. All the things I need. All things everyone needs and will definitely find in the words and music of Hiding Place.
Hiding Places becomes available on Friday, September 14th!
Featured Image: Myriam Santos