After the huge success of the Dove Award winning Song of the Year, “Redeemer,” a career-making song for Nicole C. Mullen, what’s left to do for the talented singer-songwriter? Plenty.
Her new CD, “Everyday People,” from Word Records, could take her positive message to audiences who never listen to “Christian” music, since the title cut is a remake of the old Sly & The Family Stone hit.
Though she was sort of familiar with the funky hit, having heard it in a TV commercial, before she recorded it, Mullen needed to look up its lyrics on the Internet. Then she discussed the song with her husband, producer David Mullen, whom she says is “definitely an integral part of what I do.”
“I remember sitting in the music room asking my husband, ‘Hey, that song, does it say something good? What does it say?’ I’m not one for doing cover tunes. I’m pretty opinionated and I’d rather write something myself,” she says. “But I heard it, and I said, ‘This is a lot of fun.’ It’s disarming, and it says what needs to be said.”
The bright, upbeat tune proclaims, “We’ve got to live together,” after pointing out how we all want to label each other, setting ourselves apart. This song of unity is particularly a good fit with Mullen’s ever-growing repertoire of songs that celebrate unity in diversity, racial reconciliation, and God’s love for all people.
“I am everyday people when it comes down to it,” she says. “We all get to do different things, but when we take everything else off—our titles, job descriptions, salaries—we’re all everyday people that hurt, that bleed, that cry, regardless of skin color, regardless of the title of our job.”
Though most people think of her as a recording artist, living a fancy lifestyle, hanging out with several other recording artists, it turns out that most of Mullen’s friends are not rich or famous. True, her kids go to school with tobyMac’s kids, and play together, and she sees Rachael Lampa at church, and used to see Stacie Orrico at church before she moved away, but, for the most part, Mullen’s closest friends’ connection to the music industry would be that they sing in their church’s choir.
“I hang out with everyday people who have nothing to do with the music industry,” she says. “Some are single moms, some are on government assistance, some are well off, some don’t have money or a job… they’re regular people who love Christ and Christ loves them. They speak into my life and I speak into theirs. We keep it real.”
While Mullen loves her job as a traveling singer-songwriter, often spending Thursday through Saturdays out on the road entertaining thousands with her energetic-yet-thoughtful stage show, she does consider her role as wife/mother/daughter to be her primary focus in life. “I’m a wife and a mom first,” she says. “And then I’m a singer second.”
At home on her farm, an hour outside of Nashville, you’re likely to find her spending time with her husband and kids, including a toddler. “I get my kids up in the morning,” she says. “I make sure their hair is combed, they’re fed, and out of the door by 7:15 because they have to be to school by 8am.”
After the young ones are gone, she’ll take time to look out the window to see horses, bugs, and bales of hay. Sometimes she’ll write or sew. Once in a while she tries to reupholster furniture. Maybe she’ll talk on the phone with her parents in Cincinnati, Ohio. She’s very close with them.
As someone who recognizes the importance of parent-child (and adult-child) relationships and influence, Mullen actively mentors young girls each Wednesday when her “Baby Girls Club” meets.
“We’ll be dancing, sewing, doing crafts, reading bible verses, eating and all kinds of stuff girls do,” she says. “We do it in Franklin Tennessee, near Nashville, although sometimes they come to my house for slumber parties.”
With Mullen serving as a sort-of “big sister” mentor, the Baby Girls Club is meant to be a safe and comfortable place for young girls to not only have fun eating and dancing, but also a place to learn new skills like sewing and knitting. It’s a place where they can let their true selves show, often discussing what’s “really” going on in their lives. It’s at those times when Mullen’s able to offer them Godly direction in a way they understand.
One of the best qualities about Mullen is her ability to, like Jesus, meet you wherever you are. She’s one of the few people in the music business who can be just as comfortable singing or talking to teenagers, inner-city people in the projects, suburban soccer moms, native Africans (she visited there recently and will probably return), and well-heeled crowds at Carnegie Hall in New York and the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Nicole C. Mullen is one of the few “Christian” artists who, with confidence, can sing in front of people who know nothing about Jesus Christ and leave them wanting to know Him in a close and intimate way through her well-crafted, stylish songs.
“I love writing about reality from a Christian’s point-of-view. I believe that we as believers are called to make an impact on our culture. We are compelled to do that,” she says. “We as believers are called to give light to the world and we can’t give light by hiding. We’ve got to let those around us know we are believers in Jesus Christ, so I do my best to do that in my songs.”
Mullen would like her new songs from “Everyday People,” including one called “Message For Ya,” featuring funkmaster Bootsy Collins, to be played everywhere—in mainstream and Christian circles alike.
“I want to take the light of the gospel into the places where people wouldn’t necessarily come to church,” she says. “I’ve said it often that I want to make sure I keep my feet planted firmly in the church so I can reach over into the world and pull people out without falling in—that’s my whole goal.”
As a mother, a wife, and a touring artist, Mullen’s life can get quite hectic, but she remains grounded in prayer, and hopes her fans will pray for her.
“I need the people of God to keep my lifted up in prayer so I can go and do what God’s called me to do,” she says. “It’s us doing the work of God—what He called us to do, not just me—in order to reach the people of world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
–Read more about Nicole C. Mullen and 69 other artists in Mark Weber’s book, “Christian Music Makers,” available at www.lulu.com/christianmusic.