Hoop Dreams
by Shawn Hendricks
From the April 2000 issue of CCM Magazine.

If anyone would have told Mitch McVicker during his college years at Friends University in Wichita, Kan., that he was going to be a professional singer/songwriter, he wouldn’t have believed it. He might even have laughed. At that time, McVicker was working to fulfill a long-time dream. Not music, but basketball. McVicker played guard for his college’s basketball team and wanted to eventually be a coach.

"Music was just a hobby at that time," 27-year-old McVicker says during a phone interview from his Nashville home. "I never took it seriously for one second." McVicker, who grew up in Topeka, Kan., first picked up a guitar when he was 12 years old, but he shrugged off any ideas of playing professionally until his senior year of college. It’s a change he admits was largely influenced by his friendship with Rich Mullins. The two met during McVicker’s junior year.

After McVicker graduated from college, he and Mullins began traveling and performing together around the country. The two were nearly inseparable for the next three years, until an automobile accident in 1997 claimed Mullins’ life. The accident left McVicker hospitalized with serious injuries that required a lengthy recovery.

In 1998, McVicker released his first, independent, self-titled album nearly a year after it was completed, and, in 1999, the album was re-released on McVicker’s current label, Rhythm House Records. The album features songs written during his time on the road with Mullins. In February, McVicker finished recording his second album, featuring 12 new songs, which is scheduled to release some time this fall. With a style of music he describes as "folk/rock with a lot of pop," McVicker often draws comparisons to Mullins. It is a comparison he doesn’t shy away from.

"I didn’t set out to sound like Rich, but things rub off on you when you’re brushing your teeth out of the same sink," he says. "It’s flattering." McVicker hopes his music will not only entertain people but also give insights to his faith. "I feel so fortunate to be in this position," he says. "I want to approach it all with a lightheartedness and joy. Music shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

"But I want to point [the audience] toward Jesus and expose them to the kingdom of God," he says. "[That] I take that very seriously.

As a relatively new artist, McVicker notes that it can be tempting for artists to get caught up in their image and neglect their music. "If you think too much of yourself, you are not going to do much," he says. "A lot of people are trying to be CD covers rather than being communicators with their audience. But [being on stage] is always an amazing thing! I love it," he said. "I try to give people something to hang on to."

Album Review   Mitch McVicker
          Mitch McVicker
          Rhythm House
          From the February 2000 issue of CCM Magazine.

Mitch McVicker may tire of living in the
          shadow of the legacy of Rich Mullins, but with
          the national re-issue of his indie project, he is
          going to have to wait a little longer to stand on
          his own merits. Co-produced by Mullins,
          before his death in 1997, and Ragamuffin Mark
          Robertson, Mitch McVickeris a solo effort,
          presenting the songs and voice of the
          singer/songwriter. But listeners will likely be
          enigmatically drawn to the songs where
          Mullins co-wrote, sang or played piano.

          There’s a crisp, folk/rock vibe throughout the
          project’s 10 tracks, plus a very different
          version of "My Deliverer," a song Mullins and
          McVicker co-wrote; the song was later
          recorded for The Jesus Record (Myrrh).

          Robertson plays bass, Kenny Greenberg gifts
          the record with his strong guitar presence, and
          McVicker sings with unexpected confidence
          and ease. His down-home storytelling style
          works with the easygoing tone of his songs.
          "Take Hold of Me" features McVicker on
          harmonica in a song that suggests the
          influence of Bruce Springsteen. There and
          throughout tracks like "Hope," "The Lemonade
          Song" and the lovely "New Mexico," McVicker
          does find his own space—indeed, his songs
          make their own space.

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