Grace Notes
By Chris Crain

A variety of Christian artists will be in Louisville this month. No matter what your musical taste, you'll find it in our city this month (unless it's extremely heavy music, which I like, or southern gospel, which I don't keep up with).

August 9 -13 is "TeenScream 2004" at Dixie Valley Church of God, 4703 Quinn Drive. Sanctus Real, Mars Ill, LS Project and Nate Sallie will play on different nights during the week. Sallie, who has had a hit on Christian radio this year with "Whatever It Takes," is the only artist in the line-up that I've seen live. I was impressed. His music is pop/rock, sort of Matchbox 20/Third Eye Blind-ish and his live performance is high energy. If you like his music, you'll probably like his concert. For more details on the event, call 448-0360.

On August 21, one of the hottest bands in American-Christian (or otherwise) will play at Cardinal Stadium. Switchfoot, whose latest release, The Beautiful Letdown, has been certified platinum (sales of over one million units) will play as part of the 100th Kentucky State Fair. The band, which hails from San Diego ("Switchfoot" is a surfing term), has been everywhere lately, from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and On Air with Ryan Seacrest to rotation on hundreds of mainstream and Christian radio stations. The concert starts at 8 p.m. and is free with paid admission to the Kentucky State Fair.

Two nights later, on August 23, American Music Award winners Avalon and Grammy Award winner Rebecca St. James will perform at Cardinal Stadium. Avalon, who recently added new member Greg Long (joining wife Janna in the group, along with Jody McBrayer and Melissa Greene) have been touring in support of the group's latest release The Creed. I've seen them five or six times and am always blown away my their amazing vocals. They are one of the best live groups in Christian or any music. Fans of Rebecca St. James probably won't be disappointed either, as she seems to always give a "heartfelt" performance. St. James connects with fans on a heart-to-heart level probably better than any other female artist in Christian music. The concert starts at 8 p.m. and like Switchfoot's, is free with paid admission to the Fair.

Celebration 2004 took place July 17 at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. Dove Award winner and Grammy nominee Nicole C. Mullen headlined Also on the bill were Sonicflood (featuring an entirely new lineup other than lead singer Rick Heil) and new groups Building 429 and Mute Math.

Despite the fact that nearly 100,000 were without power the week before and rain was in the forecast, several thousand people showed up for this annual event. I got a chance to talk to Mullen about Celebration and her new CD.

Louisville Music News: Number one question: (Was) this your first headlining show in Louisville? Do you know?

Nicole C. Mullen: Yes it is!

LMN: We weren't sure. We asked around and we couldn't get the definitive answer. We know you've been here, but did not know if this was your first headlining show.

NCM: Yes, it is.

LMN: Well that is fantastic! Your latest release is Live from Cincinnati, but what's been going on in your life lately other than releasing (the) live album last year?

NCM: We've been in the studio working on a studio album that's coming out in September and we're finishing that up even as we speak. We went to mastering yesterday and we'll fix that on, I think, next Thursday and that will be the end of that.

LMN: Wow!

NCM: Be listening, yeah, for some of that to come out to a radio station near you, like (one in Louisville).

LMN: Are you going to be playing any of that music . . .?

NCM: I will! It'll be for the first time in Louisville.

LMN: Alright!

NCM: Yes! Yes! You've got to come out and hear some of my new stuff.

LMN: Tell me a little bit about the new album, because obviously that's going to be reflective of what's going on in your life. What's going on with that?

NCM: Exactly. It's called Everyday People and it's really like, you know, hope for everyday people through the person of Jesus Christ. It's the main theme of it, I mean, there are songs for everybody and about, I think, everybody at the same time from those of us who have lost a loved one and we're grieving, but those that we've lost in Christ we can grieve with hope. It's about the single mom. It's about the married couple. It's about the teenager. It's about the child. It's about everybody and at the same time it's hope for everybody through the person of Jesus Christ, so, it's everyday people.

LMN: Wow! Any special guests on this CD?

NCM: I had Bootsy Collins!

LMN: Is that right?

NCM: Bootsy! Yeah, Bootsy! He put some "love" on one of the songs. We may do that one tomorrow and a lot of different producers that have been very successful in their genre, but those who have loved the Lord, you know and so there's a lot of neat things on this album. It would take a whole lot more time! You know I could talk forever, but ... it's another conversation.

LMN: Alright. You know, I bet a lot of people around here didn't even know you were from Cincinnati before you put out your live CD. How did you make it from Cincinnati to Nashville? Can you give us an idea of how you ended up from there to where you are today?

NCM: Yes. Well, when I left Cincinnati a long time ago I went to Bible School in Dallas. From Dallas, I moved to Nashville during GMA (Gospel Music Association week) and from there I went on tour with Amy Grant; my husband, David Mullen (he wasn't my husband at the time); and then the Newsboys and Michael W. Smith doing background for all of them and before I knew it, I had a record deal with Word Records and pretty much what you've heard has been what I've done on Word Records for the past several years. It's nothing short of a "God Thing," really, you know, we're being faithful in the small, that's our job, but it's up to God to make us ruler over much if that's His idea for us.