BETWEEN THE LINER NOTES
Nicole C. Mullen Has a Dream to Believe In
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
NASHVILLE -- Much of who we become is shaped by the people God places in our lives. We are all a product of the love and wisdom we glean from family and friends who sow into us. They guide and teach us, leaving an indelible impression not just on our hearts and minds, but on future generations as well.
On her new Word Records collection, “A Dream to Believe In, Volume 2” (available tomorrow), Nicole C. Mullen continues her examination of the gift of relationships that she began with her 2006 release, “Sharecropper’s Seed, Volume 1”.
CBN.com Program Director Chris Carpenter recently sat down with Nicole to discuss her new album, the importance of family in our culture, and whether she considered walking away from music after the tremendous success of “My Redeemer Lives”.
You have a new album coming out called “A Dream to Believe In”. In doing some research I discovered that people are calling it more of a modern R&B album than you have done in the past. How is this album different from your earlier work?
On one hand it is different but on the other hand it is consistent. It is probably more different than the last album, “Sharecropper’s Seed”. It is probably most consistent with the other albums I have done. On the other albums there is always something you can dance to. There is always a funk aspect. There is a bit of folk. There is a bit of balladry in there. This one probably has a little more rock than some of my previous albums. So, I guess it is kind of rock and soul.
I understand that it is a continuation of “Sharecropper’s Seed”, in that you are examining relationships. Can we expect the same from this record?
Yes, and there will probably be a third one too. This one is volume two. This portion of the journey is about that there is still a dream out there. It is about what Martin Luther King, Jr. was building upon, what he was going after. It is also about how Jesus really prayed. When He said, “Let them be one even as we are one.” He also said, “If they know we are His disciples … not by our denominations, not by how loud we preach, not by all the activities that we do but really people will know we are His disciples by how we love each other.’ This record is our challenge to continue in Jesus’ prayer, to be the answer to His prayer by loving across denomination and color lines.
So, this is a series of albums that is going across a whole spectrum of time. On “Sharecropper’s Seed” there were songs about your grandfather and mother. What was the inspiration for doing a story arc of sorts on these three albums?
A couple of things. One, my husband is an avid reader. He reads all the time so he has given me the love of books and the love of words. From that, just seeing it as volumes. This is a series. It is a continuation of what was once in the heart of man … what was in the heart of my grandfather. Then, seeing how it is coming into fruition in Dr. King’s time. And then from us, our generation, has been the generation that has been able to live out the dream. From there, we are able to pass on that dream to the next generation and say, ‘As we have done, do better.’ Last year, when we put out “Sharecropper’s Seed” my granddad was able to hear it and to enjoy it. At the end of last year he passed away. He went home to be with Jesus Christ. For me, it was a wonderful gift that I was able to give him during his last year here on earth.
Did he give you any feedback on it?
He loved it. He cried. For him, he was never a man of means. He was never a man of popularity. He pastored a church -- probably the same 40 or 50 people and they loved him. At his funeral, it was as if a dignitary had passed. There were so many cars, the church was packed, so many people he had actually impacted in his lifetime that got up and said, ‘I am where I am today because of his ministry.’
Your family is obviously very important to you. Are you trying to instill the importance of legacy and family values in your own children?
Absolutely. I think it is something that we need to be intentional about. I think our culture does not foster it. Our culture doesn’t feed the type of community anymore. The Bible clearly does. So, in order to get back to what the Scripture says we are called to do we need to be intentional about that. Even now, we just finished building a home for my inlaws across the street. We live on a farm. My mom and dad live with us and now we are building them a home. So they will live on the same side of the street and my inlaws live across the road. It has been excellent to have my kids be able to grow up with my parents and David’s parents. To be able to see how we are to treat those that are older than us – how we value them, how we prefer them. At the same time, enable our parents to instill values in our kids. It is priceless. I really am honored and so grateful to God for this season in my life.
I want to get into the new album a little bit more. What is your favorite track on the new album?
That is really hard. Can I talk about a couple of them? There is one called “Brainwashed”. This song is based on the premise of ‘be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ There are so many things in our culture and society that is constantly polluting us with images and thoughts that are really contrary to the Word. After awhile you think ‘enough is enough.’ Can I get some Tide (laundry detergent) or some Dial Soap up in here … something? Can I get my mind renewed? So, this song is one of those cries of ok, all the pressures of the world, the different things that are bombarding me, I need some relief. I need to be brainwashed.
I have another track that I started doing on the Women of Faith circuit and it has gone over great. It’s called “Everybody Dance, Work with Me”. It is a new electric slide kind of thing. It is a lot of fun and it goes through a lot of different cultures – we go to Africa, Spanish speaking countries, Asia, and just all over the place.
What do you think the most important song is on “A Dream to Believe In, Volume 2” and will have the greatest impact?
There is one called “Blessed and Broken”. It is very understated. It is from the standpoint of a little boy who offered his loaves and fish to Jesus Christ. Though Christ knew that what the boy offered him was not enough to feed the crowd on its own, Jesus didn’t laugh, He didn’t mock him. He didn’t ridicule him and say, ‘What is this going to do? But according to Scripture, He took it, He blessed it, and He broke it. That is what Jesus does in our lives. And then it turns around and it is really our cry. It’s like messed up and wounded, undone and yielded. I offer up this sacrifice. It’s not enough that it’s all I got. What can you do with such a life? And then He took it and blessed it. He looked up into the sky and He held me and He broke me. And only then do I multiply. So, take me, bless me, hold me, break me. It is just that whole cry of ‘Lord, in order for me to multiply you have to break me. It is not fun to be broken but it is definitely necessary in order for Him to do His job.
Changing gears, after the staggering success of “My Redeemer Lives” did you ever say to yourself, ‘That’s it, what else can I possibly accomplish in Christian music?’ Did that thought ever go through your mind?
No, because I have too much energy for that. That song was one of my comfort zones. It was something I never knew or never dreamed would be as great or successful as it has been. It was one of those ‘God Things’. It is a song that is sacred to me. So, to see God blow upon it again and again is just a miracle. Was it my favorite song I have ever written? Probably not. Do I love it? Absolutely. For me, every song I have written is a page of my journal. Songs from “A Dream to Believe In” speak of where I am on the journey right now. Though I re-visit those places the journey still continues.
After people hear “A Dream to Believe In” what do you want people to take away with them?
A renewed desire to want to reach out beyond themselves and love someone unlike themselves. And in that way, show them that we are lovers of Jesus Christ. In the course of that we need to celebrate – celebrate our differences. Christ did this on purpose. When He made the rainbow he could have made it all one color but instead He made it multi-colored on purpose. He loves color, beauty, and variety. I think this album calls us to celebrate that fact also in the dance, the songs, in the differences, and in our likenesses at the same time.
Final question, what is God showing you these days?
That His grace and mercy is infinite. They are free for the taking. He continues to reveal to me that I am here by grace. He has given me things that I have not earned or do not deserve. And it is merely His grace so I thank Him for that. I worship Him for that. I need to take notice of not just the grand things but the small things. He wants us to magnify those things because those are the things that He uses to make great things out of.
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