Christian singer stays out of music spotlight

Robby Howard


Rich Mullins is one of Christian music's biggest stars, but it's not his fault. He is one of the few people in the industry who underestimates his own clout.

"I don't get as much attention as some others in my type of market," said Mullins in a recent interview.

This is not entirely true. In the local Christian music market, Rich Mullins draws almost as much (if not as much) attention as names like Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. He down-plays the attention with modest promotions and small venue performances.

After beginning his career as a songwriter for Amy Grant, Mullins soon began singing his own songs. His songs and vocal talent have placed Mullins among the most popular Christian artists.

"I like (being put on a pedestal) sometimes," said Mullins in a recent interview.

"No one can honestly say that they don't like being liked. People who put themselves into the spotlight get lots more attention."

Mullins has remained somewhat of a enigmatic figure, trying to avoid the spotlight and sometimes appearing uncomfortable on stage. He will be performing at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at local Christian bookstores.

Mullins's music is a sound that echoes from humble beginnings in Indiana with four brothers and sisters and the influences of Christian parents.

"One of my favorite songs is `Moon River'," Mullins said. "When we were kids, if my parents were having a disagreement, the kids would go for a walk (we lived on a farm). When we returned, if we heard `Moon River' playing in the house we knew that we might as well go on and walk for a little longer."

Using out-of-the-ordinary instruments like the hammer dulcimer, along with traditional violins and pianos, his songs reflect the hand of God on the world around him.

"I draw on traditional Irish music as well as other influences, but I rarely listen to other current Christian artists," he said, " But I like (American composer) Aaron Copland and have lately been listening to the `Geronimo' movie soundtrack."

Mullins has been recording music for about ten years and sheer talent and conviction has made the difference

"I believe that the truth of God is love," he said, "and that trying to change anyone's morality in the name of Christianity is totally off base and is our biggest problem."