HOUSTON, Texas - Several months ago when Covid-19 was uncharted territory, everyone was looking to the interwebs to find comfort and answers. Trying to navigate the digital media dump of a worldwide pandemic paired with continued racial injustice was both taxing and frustrating.
Having battled anxiety and depression throughout my adult life, I couldn't help but wonder how the pandemic was going to play on everyone's mental health, including my own. I knew deep down it was important to stay positive and inspired. But how? As I struggled to find that within myself, I'm grateful for the brave souls around me who didn't let fear hold them back. Enter Kam Franklin.
I'll remind you that Kam Franklin is the powerhouse lead singer of The Suffers, a Houston-based Gulf Coast Soul band that's dominated nationwide and internationally for nearly a decade. You've seen them on Late Night with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, among major music festivals across the country.
I can easily say Franklin is one of the most special and talented people I've had the honor of knowing, interviewing and watching perform. She's a stand-out singer-songwriter, performance artist, activists, and orator; and over the past four months she's earned a new title in my eyes (one I'll happily add to her Wikipedia page): musik healer.
Franklin's fearless commitment to set a new tone in the midst of all the white noise, brought inspiration and light at a time we needed it the most.
"I recently wrapped up 15 weeks of livestream concerts on The Suffers' Facebook and Twitter," says Franklin.
Yes, FIFTEEN. Back to back. *stops typing, claps several times*
Franklin led the way for nearly four months straight with authentic virtual music from the magical livestream sets she brought to life. She used her voice not only for songs but to speak on racial divides, offer resources and raw advice. She was constantly dropping reminders to trust the process and turn pain into purpose.
Photo from Instagram - @bamitskam
"Times are weird," says Franklin, "But it's inspiring us to create."
Now that the livestreams have come to an end, Franklin says her new focus is finishing The Suffers' third album.
"During the quarantine I have written three solo albums. In addition to that, I have been working on the third full-length by The Suffers. We went through a lot last year, and those stories translated into 70 songs. After a few cuts, we've narrowed it down to 16."
Exciting as it all may be, recording during a pandemic comes with its own set of challenges for the band.
The Suffers | Photo by Paty Lennon
"We won't be able to finish the way we like (all together)," says Franklin, "But we are looking at this and every other challenge we've been through the last few years as an opportunity to learn and grow. We all came into this pandemic with wild a** expectations of what would come from it, how long it would last, and how it would affect us, but if I've learned anything, it's that humans don't run sh*t."
Fingers-crossed, Franklin says new album is set for a Spring 2021 release. Helping make the wait less painful is their new hit single.
"We just released our first single, "Take Me To The Good Times". If you are needing a mood adjustment, that's the song for you."
Franklin is also embracing her role with the Recording Academy as newly elected Texas Chapter Governor.
"My role with the recording academy is a new one, but I'm looking forward to the opportunity to make a difference how and where I can."
It seems each new hat she acquires, she wears well. Kam Franklin is a true reminder of the power we each hold, even in the darkest times.
"I encourage anyone out there struggling to simply do the best that you can. We're gonna get through this."
So for now, in Kam Franklin fashion, I'm gonna bet on me. Something Franklin so kindly reminded me to do when we talked. I challenge the very eyes reading this to do the same. My hope is that each of us digs deeper and finds our true selves during this revolutionary time. It's the one cure we don't have to wait for.