Tony Cummings reports on pioneering Gotee recording artist RICHLIN
In 2020 an American journalist wrote about Richlin, the Tennessee-based artist currently on the Cross Rhythms playlist again with the pulsating "Hidden" from his 'Something To Say' album, "Richlin is the kind of newcomer who you didn't really see coming. An artist who's unpredictable in some ways, yet one who's going to impact regardless. And it's all things to everything that brought him right to this very moment. Country and hip-hop. Basketball and drumming."
Thanks to TobyMac's pioneering Gotee Records, Richlin has been a man who has fused hip-hop with country, blurred pop with rock and created something which is as fresh and innovative as anything in mainstream music. "Hidden" is not, of course, his first Cross Rhythms radio hit but his fifth. Remember "Love Like Thunder", "Mount Up (Bills Mafia)", "Something To Say" and "King On The Inside"?
As well as fusing diverse musical styles, Richlin has also been responsible in blurring the Church divide which rigidly insists that congregational worship music is one thing and Christian music, broadly speaking, is intended for either the encouragement of believers or evangelistic purposes. Speaking about his particular approach to music Richlin said, "I want to create and produce art that's vertical, but say it and produce it in a way that's reaching a different demo. We're missing an entire generation musically. I want to create something that is synergistic with reaching people in their 20s and people in their 50s. I don't even know if it's possible, but I want to go after it and it's in my heart."
A southern Oregon boy - real name Brandon Richardson - was brought up in the ranch town of Paisley, population maybe 250. The son of a rancher and a farmer's daughter, Richlin, from his earliest teen years, served as a worship leader. He openly listened to CCM and country music, yet privately consumed the '90s era hip-hop culture. He was both a basketball player and a drummer. From his conversion Richlin has been a man with a genuine heart for Christ and his college education in biblical literature instilled in him a passionate and profound knowledge of the Scriptures (something that he says has developed him into a solid songwriter). His voice is reminiscent of a favourite alt-rock artist while his hip-hop vibe is undeniably haunting. A major musical influence in Richlin's life has been the song "Obsession" by Britain's Delirious? which he first heard as a 13-year-old at a youth conference in Albany, Oregon. "It just grabbed me," he said. "I remember thinking, 'whatever that is, I want to pursue that for the rest of my life. And I want people to encounter what I encountered through that song.'"
Now a master of recording music he is also very much a devotee of live performance. He shared, "I love seeing people encounter the Lord. So much more can happen in a moment of worship than what can happen in a message. There's something that's always been exhilarating for me to see people touched in the moment of the presence of God."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.