For the past several months, Franklin has been working with youth from all 25 countries in Compassion’s child development program. Through virtual auditions and rehearsals, the Compassion Youth Choir, made up of more than 120 youth, ages 11-19, worked with the artist to record the song, which was originally released in 1998.
After a trip to the Dominican Republic with Compassion in early 2020, Franklin felt called by God to use his talents, platform, and personal story to inspire youth around the world to pursue their own giftings.
In late 2020, Compassion sent out a call to youth in its field countries, where the ministry serves children in poverty, to participate in a virtual choir. Franklin was originally planning on selecting winners from each country to participate in the choir, but after reviewing video submissions from the youth, he was so moved by their talent and passion that he chose everyone who auditioned to participate in the project.
Franklin shares, “It was such an honor working with so many young, talented, and gifted kids from across the globe! I’m grateful to the team at Compassion International for giving me the opportunity to serve in this capacity.”
During the virtual sessions, Franklin provided vocal coaching, answered questions about his life and musical career, and even taught the group some dance moves.
Eleven-year-old Yshara from the Philippines says she enjoyed the entire process. “I’m very excited to be part of the youth choir, to show everyone my talent in singing, and to be with other singers from different places.” She says her favorite part of working with Franklin was hearing his life experience and improving as a singer.
Maria, 18, from Nicaragua adds, “My favorite part was to hear Kirk’s testimony and his words of motivation and inspiration – that if you can dream about something, you can reach it in Christ Jesus.”
“I feel extremely happy to be selected,” says Kakama, 18, from Uganda. Born without arms, Kakama began to realize he was musically talented at age 16. “I feel God has blessed me so much, beyond what words can explain.”
Franklin concludes, “It’s unbelievable that a song like this still resonates with so many people. I pray this version provides a little hope for the people across the globe.”
Fo Yo Soul/RCA Records and Franklin will donate proceeds from the sales and streams of the song to Compassion. Click here to download or stream “Lean on Me” featuring the Compassion Youth Choir.