David Mullen is a product of the times he grew up in. Born near Muscle Shoals in the Deep South in the 60’s, he was blissfully unaware of the social and cultural upheavals going on around him. No easy task in the Birmingham of 1964. But on the other hand, he was drinking in and swallowing whole the ideas and the sounds created by the social angst of the time. He remembers vividly going to his first concert…Elvis Presley. This also left an indelible mark on him creatively; one that would continue to show up in his own artistic endeavors as a recording artist, songwriter, and producer. Mullen moved to Florida in the early seventies, and was quickly sucked into the musical revolution that was going on there. “Not so much all the disco and stuff that was happening around the rest of the country”, he says, “as much as the pure uncut funk that was blowing up in the underground all over Florida. The Bar-kays, Parliament, Earth Wind and Fire, The Commodores, Kool and the Gang, and even the birth of Hip-Hop…things like Sugarhill Gang and Kurtis Blow. We had this great radio-free station called Zeta7 that was the rock counterpart of that kind of music, and they were just playing everything: Clapton, Zeppelin, Steely Dan, Cream, The Doobies, and The Allman Brothers, you know just great American rock-and-roll. So it was like this incredible mash up of soul, funk, and rock.” Mullen quipped. "I’d listen to Grand Master Flash back to back with Aerosmith or something”, he laughs.
The arc of his artist / songwriter / producer career is nothing short of extraordinary. In the mid 80s, he moved to Nashville and did one showcase, which resulted in a pile of recording contract offers. Ultimately, Jim Ed Norman signed him to the non-country division of Warner Brothers Records. This was the first chapter in a career trajectory that features multiple number one singles, Grammy nominations, chart topping albums and coveted touring slots.
In 1989, Mullen released his freshman WBR effort, Revival. This was the beginning of a long run of success for David as the album reached number one on the charts, had four chart topping singles, and garnered both a Grammy nomination and the GMA Dove Award for Best New Artist. This led to a critically acclaimed stint on the road where he toured with a virtual Who’s Who of singers and bands over the next 10 years including Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famers John Lee Hooker and Hall and Oates.
Eventually the calls for him to stop touring became too loud to ignore. Mullen came off the road and began a new phase in his career: writing for others, developing artists, and producing records. This proved to be one of the most significant decisions in his remarkable career. To date, Mullen has over 250 cuts to his credit including 22 number-one singles and records, 9 Dove Awards, multiple Grammy nominations, and over 30 Gold or Platinum sales awards for his writing and producing. He has been awarded multiple songwriting awards including the coveted NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International ) Song of The Year for “On My Knees.”
The cache of mega talent that Mullen has collaborated with includes: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Timbaland, Jonathan Cain (Journey), B.B. King, Don Henley, and Eric Clapton. In the CCM genre the list includes: TobyMac, CeCe Winans, Take 6, and Michael W. Smith just to name a few.
The multi-faceted Mullen has been a doctoral candidate and worked on his PhD in classical literature, philosophy, and history in addition to all of his work in the music industry. “I suppose I want people think more of me than just the music,” Mullen reflects. “If that means writing or producing records for artists or scores for movies, doing Blues in a club, or teaching a study on ‘Faith and Art’, then that’s what I want to be doing. I want to communicate all of that in the songs I write, the books I author, the classes I teach and to the people I walk and talk with...music is important but mentoring, paying it forward and ensuring we have more great thinkers is paramount.”
Mullen is well known for his work with his former wife Nicole C Mullen. David developed Nicole as an artist and brought her to Word Records in the late 90s. He produced and wrote on most of her records, several of which went Gold, and were full of number-one songs. Early on he had used Nicole as the voice on his megahit “LarryBoy: Theme Song” from the über successful VeggieTales franchise. That song would reach number one on Billboard sales chart and go Platinum several times over.
In addition to producing Nicole’s projects, Mullen also produced and, worked on projects for, Michael W Smith Haiti Relief Song (Come Together Now), Tri-ni-tee 5:7 (with Timbaland), TobyMac, and multiple VeggieTales soundtracks.
Always up for a new project to push his own boundaries, Mullen restored an old recording studio in the historic district of downtown Franklin, TN. He purchased this space with CCM star Toby McKeehan (TobyMac, DC Talk). The studio is the home to Yamaha International’s record label and artist relations office.
Currently David is at the helm of the Artist Development/Mentorship program a the prestigious
Dark Horse Recording. The DH Institute is for engineering and music education. " I think it's the natural extension of my production/artist development firm, Funkabilly Music, and it's a great way to mentor the next generation of singers,songwriters, and music pros," says Mullen. In the past he worked with Lipscomb University's Music & Film programs in Nashville. Now he mentors as well as lectures at Dark Horse Institute. He writes weekly with a stable of hit makers including Tommy Sims, Cary Barlowe, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Chris Stevens. A long sought-after producer for artists in the CCM world, Mullen also frequently works on Pop-Rock and Americana projects. He has recently been writing with Folk/Americana duo Rodeo and Juliet., and his song "Fly" is being featured on NBC's 'Great American Song Contest' as sung by the popular Latin artist MARi. Currently, he's writing with and co-producing Nashville Americana/Soul mainstay, Larysa Jaye, as well as being involved with the writing/production team for contestants and winners of Apple TV's "My Kind of Country". He continues writing for TV and film and is working, as well as lecturing and mentoring at Dark Horse in Nashville, where he hopes to develop and bring to light the next generation of singers, songwriters, artists, and music business professionals.
David lives in East Nashville with his current wife Cree, and his youngest son Jojo, and their Airdoodle Bruno.