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Mumford and Sons Frontman Processes Childhood Sexual Abuse, Discusses Life As a Pastor’s Kid

Marcus Mumford
Sachyn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Marcus Mumford, known for his work as frontman of the neo-folk rock band Mumford and Sons, is set to release his first solo record, “Self-Titled,” next month. The album explores the preacher’s son’s childhood sexual abuse, what he describes as his addiction to shame, as well as grace and healing. 

In an interview with GQ, Mumford, who described Mumford and Sons as a band that would “take you to church” as well as “to the fair,” expressed that his Christian upbringing shaped his love for music and the sense of community it can create. 

Mumford was born in California to English parents who had come to America in the 1980s to work with Vineyard Church, a neo-charismatic evangelical church and later denomination, which originally formed as an offshoot of Calvary Chapel in Orange County, California. 

Later, his parents moved back to England to plant a Vineyard Church near London.

“Lots of people around all the time,” Mumford said of his childhood experiences in the church. “I was watching my folks at the center of attention and, I think, dealing with that really well. But it did provide some element of training for what I chose to do.”

Mumford, who has the word “grace” tattooed on his arm in biblical Greek, still considers himself a believer, calling his faith “a cornerstone” in his life. Nevertheless, he stopped attending church when he was a teenager sometime after his father encouraged him to become a member of a church other than Vineyard. 

“My dad said to me, ‘You shouldn’t come to this church anymore. You should go to a different place. You don’t want to be the pastors’ kid everywhere,’” Mumford said. 

Nevertheless, Mumford expressed that the blueprint for building a church community is what he used to create a community around his music, saying, “I like the social aspect of music, and how it brings people together. And the congregational aspect of it.”

Though Mumford and Sons grew to reach commercial success, Mumford found himself struggling increasingly with alcohol consumption and certain eating habits. Eventually, his bandmates encouraged him to get help, and he agreed to do so, eventually cutting out alcohol and developing a healthy diet. 

The turnaround in Mumford’s mental health is owing in part to the healing he found after revealing to his therapist that he was sexually abused when he was six years old. 

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“Not by family and not in the church, which might be some people’s assumption. But I hadn’t told anyone about it for 30 years,” Mumford said.