Two years ago, Hannah Bullins stepped up to the plate when the fledgling Refuge Worship run by her family was left without a music director.
Bullins had only recently bought a guitar and had never performed live, but she answered the call.
“I didn’t know how to change chords,” she recalled. “It was rough but it put me out of my comfort zone. The Lord gave me that boldness.”
Bullins’s ability grew to match her willingness, as did that of the ministry band that formed around her.
The group made music from the heart, trusting in God instead of worrying about their lack of musical training.
It paid off.
In April, the nine-member band traveled to Nashville to record an album produced by music industry veteran and Mount Airy native John Rees.
The extended play album featuring five original compositions will be radio-ready within the next week or so.
The band leaders acknowledge that the road to recording was shorter than expected, crediting their Christian faith with facilitating every step.
“We thought it was a 10-years-down-the-road project, but God has different plans than we do,” said singer and songwriter Andrew Bullins.
“It’s just amazing what He’s done for us,” Hannah Bullins said. “The only thing we did was say yes.”
When they heard about Rees, who owns and operates the gospel music recording label Godschild Records, the musicians made contact with him.
“I took a listen to them and liked what I heard,” Rees said. “I liked the sound. I thought they had a good cross-section appeal, kind of something for everybody.”
The band is made up Hannah Bullins, 26, lead guitar and vocals; Andrew Bullins, 30, vocals; their mother, Barbara Bullins, 52, vocals; their sisters, Dana Temperle, 24, vocals; and Bobbi Jo Pica, 33, spoken word; Miriam Bullins, 16, keyboard; church members Elijah Smith, 18, guitar; Lexi Mickey, 16, guitar; and Heidi Johnson, 25, drums.
Rees listened to a demo made at the ministry and dropped in on a rehearsal.
“One of the things that impressed me the most at rehearsal was how tight they are. Every note they played they intended to play,” he said. “In the studio, that’s a good thing. It’s pretty unusual at all levels.”
In Nashville, they recorded the album in significantly less time than the 10 hours the studio had booked.
“The experience was great, being in the recording studio,” Andrew Bullins said. “The Lord just totally expanded gifts they didn’t know they had.”
Hoping to one day start their own record label, the band is promoting the album independently.
“I’m excited about them,” Rees said. “I think they’ve got a lot of good energy.”
The songs on the contemporary praise and worship album were written by five different band members.
“A lot of our songs are about the process of coming to the Lord,” said Hannah Bullins.
“And our own experiences and places we’ve been, different things He’s brought us from,” said Andrew Bullins.
The album features and is named after Hannah Bullins’s song “The Merchant.”
“The song I wrote went from the experience of me coming to the Lord,” Hannah Bullins said, “realizing there’s nowhere I can hide that I can go to to escape that love, that all I have to do is embrace it and receive it. My life is pretty much just filled with joy now.”
It’s based on the Bible verses Matthew 13:45-46: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
Jesus is the pearl, Andrew Bullins explained.
“True pearls don’t fade or crack or peel. They’re just perfect. That’s how Jesus is,” he said.
Even though their father is a pastor and the siblings grew up in the church, the process of really becoming a believer didn’t happen for both until adulthood.
“You can go to church all day long, it doesn’t mean you love the Lord,” Hannah Bullins said. “We learned it but we didn’t live it. We blended in with the world and everything else.”
“I ran from it my whole life,” Andrew Bullins said. “When it clicked it was not in a church service. I was alone and it was just me. That’s where my song came from.”
The group hopes their music will help others find that love.
“We don’t believe the gifts God gives you are something to keep bottled up,” Andrew Bullins. “It’s to change lives and spread love, true love.”
Andrew Bullins recalled hearing testimonies broadcast on a Winston-Salem Christian radio station which has already agreed to give the Refuge Worship songs air play.
“You hear things like, ‘I turned on the radio and heard this song and it totally changed my life,’” he said. “There’s a lot of people in sorry, dark places in this world. Our hope is they experience the love of Christ through our music, and from any dark place, see the light and realize there is hope.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.