Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I can't believe it's been 10 years...God rest your soul...

"If there's a better song writer in Christendom, I don't know who it is." Rick Elias (Paraphrased as best as I recall from the video, Homeless Man, Sarah and I watched Saturday.)

I wholeheartedly agree with Rick's assessment of his friend, and brother in Christ. I've never been to a concert before or after Rich's that so moved me. In the depths of my soul I was touched that night in a most powerful way. Rich came to Nebraska and my husband and I went to see him here at a Bellevue Christian fellowship, Feb 14, 1997. Just 7 months before he was killed, I saw a man who glowed with the love of Christ, on a little stage in Omaha. God truly had his Hand on this man from day one. I'd only come back to the Lord a few months earlier from being lost in mortal sin. Though I wasn't yet a fully converted Catholic until 2004, the "Catholic heart" of this man, drew me toward Home without me even realizing it. A "Baptism of Desire" is what I think Rich Mullins experienced fully 10 years ago on that fateful night. He was the most Catholic non-Catholic person I "knew." Yes, God rest your troubadour heart, Rich. And say hi to Saint Francis for me and give him a hug for me, too, for being so influential in your life. You can tell what a man is like by the company he keeps, and you were drawn to St Francis so deeply while here.... it showed. To all the Kid Bros of St. Frank, God bless and keep you, too. ~ susie

Birth name Richard Wayne Mullins
Born October 21, 1955(1955-10-21)
Origin Richmond, Indiana
Died September 19, 1997 (aged 41)
Genre(s) Contemporary Christian
Occupation(s) singer/songwriter
Instrument(s) piano, guitar, hammered dulcimer
Years active 1981 - 1997
Label(s) Reunion Records
acts A Ragamuffin Band
Website www.kidbrothers.net

Richard Wayne Mullins (October 21, 1955 – September 19, 1997) was an American Christian music singer and songwriter born in Richmond, Indiana. He died in an automobile accident in September of 1997.

Mullins is best known for his praise choruses "Awesome God" and "Step by Step", which have been embraced as modern classics by many Christians. Some of his albums are also considered among Christian music's best, including Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth (1988), The World As Best As I Remember It, Volume One (1991) and A Liturgy, A Legacy, & A Ragamuffin Band (1993). His music has been covered by many artists, including Caedmon's Call, Five Iron Frenzy, Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, Michael W. Smith, John Tesh, and Third Day.

Rich Mullins is also warmly remembered for his sincere devotion to the Christian faith, which was often an inspiration to others. He was heavily influenced by St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). In 1997, he composed a musical called Canticle of the Plains, a retelling of the life of St. Francis set in the Old West.

* 1 Life
* 2 Music career
* 3 Death and legacy
* 4 Discography
* 5 Awards
* 6 Further reading
* 7 External links

[edit] Life

Rich Mullins grew up attending Arba Friends Meeting, a Quaker church in Lynn, Indiana [1]. The Quaker testimonies of peace and social justice later inspired many of his lyrics.

In 1975 Mullins attended Cincinnati Bible College. In the 1980s he moved to Nashville, Tennessee to begin his professional recording career.

In 1988 Mullins moved to Wichita, Kansas where, in 1991, he enrolled as a student at Friends University. He graduated with a B.A. in Music Education on May 14, 1995 [2]. After graduation, he and Mitch McVicker moved to a reservation in Tse Bonito, New Mexico to teach music to children. They lived in a hogan at the reservation until his death.

The profits from his tours and the sale of each album went to his church, which divided it up, paid Mullins a small salary, and gave the rest to charity. Mullins was also a major supporter of Compassion International and Compassion USA.

[edit] Music career

As a musician, Mullins was primarily a pianist, but he showed a prodigious talent for unusual instruments. He was an expert player of the hammered dulcimer, lap dulcimer and the Irish tin whistle. Examples of this can be heard in Mullins' songs "Calling Out Your Name," "Creed," "Boy Like Me/Man Like You" and "The Color Green." Mullins' compositions were distinctive in two ways: unusual and sometimes striking instrumentation, and highly poetic lyrics that usually employed complex metaphors.

Mullins began his musical career with Zion Ministries in the late 1970s, where he wrote music and performed with a band called Zion. The band released one album in 1981 entitled Behold the Man. While working for this ministry, Mullins penned a song called "Sing Your Praise To The Lord", which was recorded by singer Amy Grant in 1982 and became an immediate hit on Christian Radio. In 1983 Debby Boone recorded Mullins' "O Come All Ye Faithful" for her Surrender album. In 1984 the song was also featured in a TV movie called Sins of the Past.

In 1986 Rich Mullins released his eponymous debut album, followed in 1987 by Pictures in the Sky. Neither album sold very well, but the Christian radio hit "Awesome God" on his third album, Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth, brought his music to a wider audience.

In the early 1990s Mullins released a pair of albums entitled The World As Best As I Remember It, Volume One and Two. These albums featured more of a stripped-back, acoustic feel than his earlier work, with nods to Irish music. "Step By Step", a song written by good friend Beaker and included on both volumes in different versions, became an instant hit on Christian Radio, and, like "Awesome God", it became a popular praise chorus.

In 1993 Mullins assembled a group of Nashville musicians (including Jimmy Abegg, Beaker, Phil Madeira, Rick Elias, and Aaron Smith) to form A Ragamuffin Band, whose name was inspired by the Christian book The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. The band recorded A Liturgy, a Legacy, & a Ragamuffin Band, which was later named the #3 best Christian Album of All time by CCM Magazine. Liturgy was a concept album that drew its inspiration, in part, from the Roman Catholic liturgy. The Ragamuffins also appeared on Mullin's 1995 record Brother's Keeper.

In 1997 Mullins teamed up with Beaker and Mitch McVicker to write a musical based on the life of St. Francis of Assisi, entitled The Canticle of the Plains. Mullins had great respect for St. Francis, and even formed "The Kid Brothers of St. Frank" in the late 1980s with several friends.

[edit] Death and legacy

Mullins was killed in a car accident on September 19, 1997. He and his friend Mitch McVicker were traveling on I-39 north of Bloomington, Illinois to a benefit concert in Wichita, Kansas when his Jeep flipped over. Neither man wore a seat belt. Both were thrown from the vehicle. A passing tractor-trailer swerving to avoid the Jeep killed Mullins. McVicker was badly injured but survived.

His funeral was open to the public and had a massive gathering. He was buried alongside his baby brother who died as an infant and his father in Hollansburg, Ohio.[3]

Shortly before his death, Mullins had been working on his next project, which was to be a concept album based on the life of Jesus Christ and was to be called "Ten Songs About Jesus". On September 10, 1997, nine days before his death, he made a rough micro cassette recording of the album's songs in an abandoned church. This tape was released as disc 1 of The Jesus Record, which featured new recordings of the songs on disc 2 by the Ragamuffin Band, with guest vocalists Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Ashley Cleveland, and Phil Keaggy.

Mullins' family founded The Legacy Of A Kid Brother Of St. Frank to continue his mission to develop programs of art, drama and music camps for Native American youth and provide a traveling music school serving remote areas of the reservations. Today it is administered by Alyssa Loukota and Tammy Pruitt.

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