Ray Bowling’s love of music motivated much of his life, but his love of family motivated him to make his CD, titled “I’m a House on the Rock.”
The CD, due out this week, is full of gospel music he wrote and performed with the help of producer John Darin Rowsey and Harvest Studios in Huntington. Rowsey also performs the background vocals on the song “Dens of Iniquity.”
“I had a dream that I wanted to leave a CD with the songs I wrote as a heritage for my family,” the Ashland resident said.
Last year, Bowling, at 80, had quadruple bypass surgery.
“I prayed about it and said, ‘Lord, I know you have given me these songs but I don’t have the money. I need a sponsor,’ so I waited and prayed and waited and prayed and waited and prayed and and nothing happened,” he said. “Then, I prayed to put it in the Lord’s lap and in a month, I had a sponsor who wanted to remain anonymous. In the last four months, the project came together.”
The CD cover shows Bowling sitting on a large rock that he found near the Taco Bell in Kenova.
“I wanted to put that on the CD but I wanted a rock,” he said, noting he, his grandson and a friend, Jeff Jones, drove around the area and finally found the rock, which Bowling proceeded to scale and then posed for a picture.
Bowling started singing when he was a child and participated in plays in school.
In the 1960s, he started writing music and had a band called Ray and the Furys, a band that toured the East Coast for about four years, getting booked at clubs by Jolly Joyce Booking Agency in Philadelphia.
That time yielded a CD of eight of his songs which were recorded in New York; Bowling said the songs were never copyrighted and he believes some of his work was copied over the years. The band was on the cover of the magazine “Echoes of the Past,” which is published in Pittsburgh.
He said he eventually took jobs in the chemical business because during the off season, the competition for gigs was too fierce. He ended up coming back to the Ashland area and working for U.S. Chemical in Haverhill and, later, Ashland Oil Inc. until he retired.
He also has sung with the local gospel group New Vision and managed his church’s prison ministry, which included a choir.
All Bowling’s talents come naturally.
“I never had a lesson,” he said. “I think it’s a gift from God.”
Bowling’s CD, which costs $15, is available by emailing him at email@example.com or by calling (606) 928-7777.
He will perform at the 10:45 a.m. service Sunday at Bethel Temple Assemblies of God in Huntington.
LEE WARD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2661.