His Creations Are Making A Real Hit
by Dick Reynolds
Palladium-Item in Richmond Indiana April 11, 1984
Richard Wayne "Rich" Mullins left the television set for a few moments and missed the name - his own that millions of viewers saw when the credits were listed for the recent ABC-TV movie "Sins of the Past."
But that really didn't bother the 1974 Northeastern High School graduate.
"It's a funny thing." he said in a recent telephone interview.
"I felt detached from it all. It was just neat knowing I wrote it."
What he wrote was the song, "O Come All Ye Faithful," which was sung by cast member Debby Boone in the film. It's also a part of her album "Surrender."
Mullins said be composed the song about 10 years ago when he was a freshman at Cincinnati Bible Seminary. But it wasnt until month or so before the movie aired April 2 that it was known the song would be included in the film-ending scene.
"That's when the television people called and said it was in the movie," said Randy Cox. owner-general manager of Meadowgreen Music Co. of Nashville, Tenn.
"I think Debby Boone asked for it."
IT WAS MISS BOONE who asked Meadowgreen a couple of years ago to "put a hold on the song" until she could record it, Mullins said.
The pleased Cox said he's getting "more and more calls from recording artists" who want a crack at the words and music Mullins composes for Meadowgreen.
Those artists include vocalist Amy Grant who has picked two of Mullins' compositions for two of her albums.
His "Sing Your Praise to the Lord," nominated as gospel song of the year in 1983, appears on her album "Age to Age" and also as a single. Mullins recently received a gold record signifying sales of 500,000 copies of the song.
"Doubly Good to You," still another Mullins creation, appears on Amy Grant's album "Straight Ahead."
Mullins. 28-year-old son of Neva and John Mullins Jr., credits his piano teacher. Mary Kellner of Richmond, and Northeastern music teachers Rex Jenkins and Ralph Phillips for much of his success.
"MRS. KELLNER GAVE ME a real appreciation of music, and the basic skills," he said.
"The variety shows we had at Northeastern whetted my appetite to get people into what you're doing."
His mother remembers how her son's interest in music was planted, then bloomed:
"We went to the see the movie 'Music Man' when he was just a child. He came home and pecked out the songs he'd heard on our old upright piano.
"He started piano lessons when he was 6 years old. When he was 12 years old, he bought bis own piano from money he'd saved working for his father in our nursery.
"And when he was in about the eighth or ninth grade, one of his sisters asked him if he wanted to be the pianist for the New Creations Choir."
Mullins said he attended the Cincinnati Bible Seminary "off and on for about six years." He was a youth minister at a Methodist church in Erlanger, Ky. then formed a musical organizaion, "Zion," which appeared at churches, on college campuses and at church camps in several states.
ONE OF THE MEMBERS of the group sent a tape of Mullins' songs to Meadowgreen, and the Nashville company became his publisher.
Mullins has been living In Grand Rapids, Mich., since October.
"I'm a volunteer worker at a church here (Kentwood Christian) I like an awful lot," he said.
"Their staff was cut from four to two and I'm helping in several ways.
"I really wanted to get out of Nashville, I felt I was getting self-obsessed there."
Pressed for his plans, Mullins continued:
"I'm really not a very career-oriented person. If I don't enjoy what I'm doing for the sake of doing it, then I've lost integrity. And I think integrity is the most important thing.
"I think I'd like to be a missionary someday. Perhaps when I'm older I could be a church pastor."
IN THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE Is a trip to Europe in May, then appearances in eastern states this summer at colleges, churches and church camps.
Music publisher Cox described Mullins compositions as "contemporary Christian music, exciting and energetic." And he added: "He's one of the most creative people I've ever met." Mullins recently sent Meadowgreen a tape of some new songs, and Cox said he told the composer: "I don't care where you live as long as you send us that kind of music"