Nicole C. Mullen Biography
Last updated: 07/08/2014 04:30:55 AM
Nicole C. Mullen has emerged as one of this generation's most compelling singer/songwriters. Her new album, Talk About It, continues the journey that Nicole began with her breathtaking, self-titled, multi-Dove Award winning debut effort. Blessed with one of contemporary Christian music's most distinctive voices, she is also a songwriter of rare insight and sensitivity. With songs that run the gambit from soaring praise ballads to intimate worship arias; from gritty hip hop anthems to sinewy, Gospel barnburners, Nicole has the uncanny ability to build bridges over those boundary lines that separate cultures; young and old, black and white, pop and urban. Indeed, the songs on Talk About It create a space of unity in this often fragmented world-a place where everyone can wrap Nicole's mellifluous vocal interpretations around their shoulders and feel welcome.
Nicole's fearless insights as well as her ear for authenticity infuse her songs with a visceral and emotional resonance that connects with her audience on multiple levels. The scope of her remarkable appeal was recognized earlier this year, as she became the first woman in fourteen years to receive the Gospel Music Association's Songwriter of the Year title.
And when her incredible worship song, Redeemer was named Song of the Year, she joined the ranks of Gloria Gaither and Michael W. Smith as the only songwriters to ever have two songs honored by that distinction. In fact, she is the first African American to ever win a Dove Award in the Song of the Year category, and she often finds herself performing in churches that have never invited an Africa American guest before!
But rather than fostering feelings of pride and self-importance, these accolades merely reinforce Nicole's conviction that God has chosen the weak things in the world to confound the strong. It is a conviction that is not only inextricably woven throughout the fabric of Nicole's eagerly awaited follow-up project, Talk About It, it is a conviction she walks out in her everyday life. Long known as a mentor and advocate for teenage girls, Nicole frequently keeps teens at her home outside of Nashville and teaches a dance class at their dance studio in Franklin, Tennessee.
While her semi-autobiographical debut project served to introduce the world to Nicole C. Mullen, Nicole is just as quick to point the world towards its Maker. "I have seen God do extraordinary things in my life," she insists. "I am ordinary, but I get confidence when I call on Jesus. I see the contrast between the ordinary, and God doing something extraordinary; the mundane joined to the glorious. That's what this album is all about. Talk About It is a group of stories about life, and about people. It is a celebration of a big God who works through everyday heroes."
To help her with the task, Nicole enlisted the aid of her husband, David Mullen, who also produced her first album. The collaboration resulted in 11 handpicked tracks, all written or co-written by Nicole and delivered with just the right blend of passion or grace. Marked by the same multi-layered, no-boundaries song crafting that launched Redeemer and On My Knees to the top of the charts, Talk About It offers a delicious collection of shimmering pop ballads, book ended by funky, urban-inflected cuts which perfectly displays Nicole's unbridled creativity.
The result of their efforts is reflected in riveting songs like Sometimes with its caroming drum track, and Baby Girl which combines Nicole's compelling storytelling ability with her signature musical arrangements and fervent gospel rhythms. Cuts like Let Me Go, sport street-wise beats mixed with smoky bass and string lines that make you want to dance. But it is when Nicole gets mellow, as on the gently lilting ballad, Come Unto Me, that everybody has church.
Nicole's sociological insights are also prevalent in Talk About It. The unity-evoking Black Light celebrates the triumphs of the civil rights movement, as it encourages all of us to stand on the shoulders of giants and shine as lights in a dark world.
As fresh as the music is, it is once again the lyrical depth of Nicole's songs that captures the hearts of her listeners. In the tradition of her Dove Award winning Song of the Year, Redeemer, Nicole offers Call on Jesus, a scintillating ballad in which she expresses her own fears and doubts before surrendering to the glory that is Christ in us. "But when I call on Jesus all things are possible," she exults. "And it is not must for me. The same strength and power that I can tap into is available to everyone."
She penned When Heaven Calls as her ultimate prayer. "To me, When Heaven Calls is more about life than it is about death-even though it is about death. There is going to come a time when this life will be over, and I will have to give an account as to how I lived. I will stand before my God and Savior, and because I know that He awaits me, I do not fear death."
Although Nicole started writing songs as a shy, young teenager, it was the explosion of her classic song, the Dove Award winning, On My Knees, that catapulted her to the top of the Christian music charts, and established her as a songwriter to be reckoned with. Nicole quickly followed with the release of her stunning 2000 debut release which would eventually earn her four more Dove Awards, including a repeat Song of the Year award for Redeemer, and the coveted Songwriter of the Year award.
Nicole's reputation as a live performer has also garnered her acclaim throughout her career. She has toured with some of Christian music's most legendary performers, including Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, and provided background vocals on scores of other projects. She has choreographed for The Newsboys and acted with Carman. And of course she is the voice of the Larry-Boy Theme Song.
Still, it is Nicole's ability to create tales of conflict seen through compassionate eyes that evokes respect from her peers and fans alike. With Witness, Nicole struts with more attitude than David confronting Goliath. "You might just be a little kid," she chants, "But you can slay giants just the way that David did." On The Ring, the hip-hop anthem Nicole penned as an encouragement to girls to save themselves for marriage, she admonishes, "If you want to step to me, You better know one thing, This love I got you'll never get, without a wedding ring."
The title song, like the album, invokes multiple meanings, capturing both the subtlety and complexity of the aural canvas on which Nicole chooses to paint. "Talk About It is filled with songs about ordinary, everyday people," Nicole insists. "And to be honest, I fit in that category too, because I don't have any special talent. When God decided to use me, I didn't have anything special to offer Him. We are all like Clark Kent outside the telephone booth; when we take off the suit and cape, we look just like everybody else. But when we call on Jesus, and His power and His strength, then we are bad to the bone! We get to put on His armor and His light. We get to do things that we would never have been able to do in our own strength."
"There is a scripture that says 'The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,'" Nicole declares. "Talk About It! We cried out for His mercy and grace. We cried out in our affliction and He came and helped us. He rescued us. We should Talk About It. "