| Countless generations have found inspiration and expressions of God's greatness in Job, the Bible's oldest book. From the passages of this ancient manuscript, Nicole C. Mullen created her number-one single, "Redeemer."
During her childhood days in Cincinnati, a loving Christian family surrounded the talented singer. Her father, Napoleon, Jr., an accomplished musician, worked at the same job for 38 years, sacrificing his own artistic dreams for his household's security. Her mom, Mary Jane, prayed daily for God's guidance in raising her daughter, and Pentecostal minister grandparents on both sides supplied powerful preaching and Gospel music in massive doses.
"I was always encouraged to be all that God had called me to be, and I was never given an excuse to why I couldn't be," Mullen said. I was never told that I was too black to achieve, never told that we were not rich enough, or that I didn't have what it takes; but they did teach me to pray, they taught me the Scripture, they taught me to love God and to love people. They instilled in me that 'with man things may be impossible, but with God, all things are possible'."
Despite abundant affection and attention, Nicole experienced deep hurt only youthful peers can inflict. Classmates unmercifully teased the youngster and her two sisters during their daily school bus rides.
"I knew I wasn't the most beautiful," Nicole confessed. "I knew I wasn't the most popular. But I remember sitting there thinking I may not be these things, but God has a plan for my life."
Following graduation from Cincinnati's New Life Christian Academy, the young woman enrolled at Christ for the Nations in Dallas. The experience metamorphosed Nicole from an ugly duckling into a graceful swan.
Producer Tim Minor discovered the young talent singing in church and convinced the Christian pop/rock label Frontline Records to bring her into their fold. In 1991, the California-based company released Nicole's debut album, Don't Let Me Go.
Despite positive airplay, the experience brought disenchantment and disappointment. "I really didn't feel like an artist," Nicole admitted to Gregory Rumberg in a May 2000 interview. "I felt like I was filling a position (for the label).
The singer/songwritere's second effort, Wish Me Love, also teamed her with future husband David Mullen, the 1990 Dove Award winner as New Artist of the Year. But Nicole and Frontline soon parted ways, and she focused her talents into other venues.
During brief lulls in her touring schedule, Nicole and David married, had a daughter Jasmine, adopted a son Max, and moved to a small farm outside Nashville. Shortly after their marriage, they jointly penned "On My Knees." Rising star Jaci Velasquez recorded the tune and garnered the songwriting duo a 1998 Dove Award for Song of the Year.
But a faceless gig brought the "Homemade" girl's voice into millions of homes. Word Records tabbed Nicole as the vocalist for the Larry Boy Theme Song on its immensely popular VeggieTales series.
"I think it's funny being known as the 'Larry-Boy singer'," she said. "Sometimes I tell people that I have been singing in their homes for the past 2-3 years and that we're only now being properly introduced. What's so cool is that because of Bob and Larry, my fan base has just gotten stronger."
Although numerous studios offered the singer/songwriter recording opportunities, the former Frontline recording star waited until she had developed her own sound and a solid collection of her own tunes. In April 2000, Word Records released her third CD entitled simply Nicole C. Mullen.
Combining the influences of CeCe Winans, Andre Crouch, the Hawkins, Stevie Wonder, and Lauryn Hill, the versatile vocalist describes her unique blend of R&B, folk, funk, and pop as "funkabilly." Lou Carlozo reviewing for CCM wrote, "At a time when Christian pop seems especially formulaic, Mullen brings a fresh musical approach and a flair for writing about time-honored truths in inventive ways."
In the praise song, "Redeemer," powerful guitar chords drive home the central theme taken from Job 19:25. The verse which inspired George Fredrick Handel's magnificent piece from The Messiah over 300 years ago, reads, "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth."
Nicole quickly strummed the chorus and the bridge, but the verses wouldn't jell. She filed the song in her incomplete stack and left it there for over a year.
One day, the veteran artist recalled how Job's friends discussed with him the reasons behind God's actions. Finally, God responded to their foolish arguments with a set of powerful questions.
"It became so clear to me that chasm between God and His awesomeness, and us and our limited knowledge is great," the singer/songwriter said. "At the same time that He is spinning planets in orbit, His ears are ready and alert for us to call out to Him in a cry, a whimper, or a prayer. At that moment, the space between us is nonexistent, and we too can say, 'I know that my Redeemer lives.'"
Nicole's song shot to number one last year and held the top position for three straight weeks. Its message generated long-lasting impact, garnering Nicole a second Song of the Year Dove award in 2001 along with bringing her Songwriter of the Year honors.