Saturday, June 29, 2002

Star of Christian music hurts for her hometown

By Howard Wilkinson,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Nicole C. Mullen's life has taken her far from her childhood in Cincinnati to a place as one of the rising stars of Christian music, but her hometown is never far from her heart.

Nicole C. Mullen, a Kennedy Heights native and a rising Christian music performer, sings Friday at Paul Brown Stadium.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
        And, for the past 15 months, as she read and watched the media reports of rioting and racial tension in her hometown, her heart ached.

        “The place I have been hearing about is not the place I know,” Ms. Mullen said in a backstage area of Paul Brown Stadium, an hour before her first appearance as a featured musical act at the Billy Graham service.

        “What has hurt me is the perception that in Cincinnati all the blacks are against the whites and all the whites are against the blacks,” she said. “I know that is not so.”

        From growing up in Kennedy Heights, a racially mixed neighborhood, she knows that in her hometown “there are people who love each other and they don't look alike at all.”

        Friday night, as she strode on stage in a gold sequined dress to belt out a blend of rock, gospel and soul before tens of thousands, she felt humbled, and honored to be delivering the Gospel message in her own hometown.

        “Jesus is worth singing loud about,” she said. “He is worth dancing about.”

        She had the hometown crowd cheering, applauding and swaying in enthusiastic response.

        For Ms. Mullen, not singing was never an option.

        “Both of my granddads were Pentecostal pastors,” she said. “I grew up in the church. And there wasn't any question about, you sang.”

        While a young girl in Cincinnati, she sang in church choirs and family groups. Later, as a young woman, she went to Dallas where she began a career in the music business.

        With her husband, David Mullen, as her producer, she put out an album of what she called “semi-autobiographical songs.” One of them, “Redeemer,” was named song of the year by the Gospel Music Association.

        Today, she lives near Nashville and teaches dance when she is not on the road making music.

        “I have been blessed,” Ms. Mullen said. “God has taken something that was small and made it into something larger.”


Click through photo gallery
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Excerpts of Graham's sermon
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- Star of Christian music hurts for her hometown
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