- Christianity Today Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2009 3 Mar
Surveying the music of Rich Mullins, one is struck by man's personal passion. It doesn't come from out of the blue. "Like Thoreau, I love to suck the marrow out of the bones of life," Rich Mullins has said. "People want to know God's will for them. In one of his most explicit statements on the subject, Christ said, 'I come that you might have life and have it abundantly.' One day it won't make any difference how many albums I sold, but I will give account of my life to God. What I think He'll be most pleased with is to see that we truly lived, that we were the person He created us to be."
Born in rural Indiana, he took to both music and the church at an early age, making his recording debut with his 1986 self-titled Reunion album, followed by Pictures In The Sky (1987), Winds Of Heaven … Stuff Of Earth (1988), Never Picture Perfect (1989), The World As I Best Remember It, Vol. 1(1991), the #1 The World As I Best Rememebr It, Vol. 2 (1992), A Liturgy, A Legacy, And A Ragauffin Band (1993) and Brother's Keeper (1995) which was influenced by his life-changing move to the southwest near the Navajo Indian Reservation. In 1997 following his untimely death Songs (1997) and Songs 2 (1999), greatest hits collections of Rich's works were released.
Among Rich's #1 CCM hits are "Awesome God" (voted one of the Top 3 most popular contemporary Christian songs of the decade) and "Sometimes By Step," both church staples around the world, "Verge of a Miracle," "My One Thing," "While the Nations Rage," "Boy Like Me, Man Like You," "Creed," and "Hold Me Jesus." He has scored nearly a dozen Gospel Dove Award nominations, and wrote such Amy Grant hits as "Sing You Praise to the Lord," "Doubly Good to You," and "Love of Another Kind." In addition to his many world-wide concert tours, Rich has released a long-form video, 1994's Pursuit of a Legacy (released on DVD in 2003).
As a songwriter, Rich has admited to a unique form of musical frugality. "My music comes straight from my head and as a result of collaboration in the studio," he once told Billboard magazine. "I think I use things like dulcimers, bagpipes, and mandolins in part because, as John Hartford said, 'Style is based in limitation.' I do most of my writing on the road, in a truck, and it's easier to play a lap dulcimer in a truck than a guitar."
Over all, of course, was Rich's deep commitment to Christ, which guides all of his life and career decisions. "The Christian faith is not about mere intellectual assent to a set of doctrines," he notes, "but about a daily walk with this person Jesus. It's about living in awareness of Christ risen, resurrected, and living in my life. Even though doctrine is important, wisdom in the Bible has more to do with character and the art of living. Christianity is about living out the will of God, and living abundantly."
After over two years of compiling and assembling a diverse collection of rare audio and video masters, Rich Mullins: Here In America came into being. Featuring a 60-minute audio CD and a full-length DVD, Here In America is a virtual scrapbook of sights and sounds that take you beyond the music and into the heart of one of Christian music's most interesting and intriguing artists.
With over two hours of previously unreleased material, Here In America is a robust collection of live performances and song demos that provide extraordinary glimpses into the inspiration behind many of the great songs penned by Rich Mullins.
"Although he died at a relatively young age, Rich Mullins left behind an incredible legacy in music. But, more than just music, Rich also left us a vast treasury of homespun wisdom culled from the scriptures and a lifelong pursuit of God." notes Dean Diehl, sr. vice president/general manager, Reunion Records. "Here In America preserves both the words and the songs of a man I believe was in many ways a prophet for our times."
The audio portion includes live recordings taped between 1984 and 1987, during the early days of Rich's career. A highlight of the audio includes Rich teaching a crowd "Awesome God" for the first time, written just a few days prior. Here In America includes original BMG song demos such as "The Lord's Prayer" and "Never Heard the Music," both of which have never been released and a live version of "None Are Stronger," which has not been released before either.
The DVD portion of Here in America features both live performances with the Ragamuffins as well as a very rare question and answer session with Rich and long-time Rich Mullins collaborator, Beaker. The live performance section features many of Rich's best-loved songs performed in front of a studio audience. Featuring extended intros and unique arrangements created by the Ragamuffins, this live concert footage is a great representation of a Rich Mullins concert during the latter years of his life.
Stripped of all of the industry handlers and marketing spin doctors, the interview segment is extremely rare in that it consists entirely of questions asked by a live audience as opposed to a professional interviewer. This is Rich Mullins at his best, offering straight-forward answers about his life, his loves, his music and his God.
Artist royalties from Here In America are being donated to Kid Brothers of St. Frank, Co, an organization created by the Mullin's family to help underprivileged children and families. For more information on Kid Brothers of St. Frank, Co., please visit www.kidbrothers.org.