Meet Rich Mullins

A Tragic End

On September 19, 1997, the news of Rich Mullins’s death in a tragic car accident shocked the Christian community. A humble man and renowned musician, Rich Mullins inspired millions of people with his singular desire to love and follow God. He was a quiet leader in the music industry, and his witness left a remarkable legacy. Michael W. Smith said of Mullins, “His life and music has impacted me more than anyone I know.” Mac Powell (of Third Day) commented, “I have been very affected by his music through the years.” And Reed Arvin, a producer, said, “Rich Mullins was the best writer in contemporary Christian music, and he is utterly irreplaceable.”

A Gifted Musician
Born on October 21, 1955 in Richmond, Indiana, Mullins grew up enjoying music, and playing instruments. He was raised a Christian, however he describes a dark period of his life that extended from his Junior year of high school until age 30. “I felt tormented all the time. I didn’t like myself, and I didn’t like anybody who was around me,” Mullins said. But his life was transformed at thirty when he confessed a secret sin to God and some friends. Shortly thereafter he moved to Nashville and began his career as a Christian songwriter, and spent the following twelve years expressing his sense of joy and wonder for God in song.
As he lived, Rich Mullins was an excellent musician and talented songwriter. He played a number of different instruments, but his trademark was the hammer dulcimer. The dulcimer is featured on a number of his recorded tracks including “Land of my Sojourn” on A Liturgy, A Legacy, and Ragamuffin Band. His musical career began in Nashville when, after Amy Grant recorded a song of his, “Sing Your Praise to the Lord,” Reunion records took an interest in him. In 1986, he recorded his first album, self-titled, in Amy Grant’s basement. Following that release, Rich went on to record nine albums with Reunion between 1986 and 1996. Along the way he was nominated for twelve Dove awards and his most widely known song, “Awesome God,” was named one of the top three songs of the decade by Christian Research Report.

A Life of Passion and Compassion
Rich Mullins was exceptional in that he never became obsessed with the trappings of fame. Early in his career he took a vow of poverty, and gave virtually all of his money away to organizations like Compassion International. Even at the height of his success, in 1996, Rich was living in a trailer home on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico, teaching music to Native American children. Mullins had a rare ability to connect with people and, although he was not financially wealthy, he was rich in relationships. Homeless Man, a video documenting Mullins’s life, includes the testimonies of hundreds of people, from Colombian and Navajo Children to pastors and pop musicians, who were deeply touched by time spent with him. Recently Myrrh records released The Jesus Record. It features ten demos recorded by Rich in an abandoned church just nine days before his death. It also includes finished recordings of those songs by mainstream Christian artists, and is a loving tribute to a musician who is already deeply missed.

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