It’s no secret that good news rarely dominates today’s 24-hour news cycle, so it’s not exactly surprising when people walk through life feeling discouraged, disillusioned, fearful and are desperately seeking an antidote.
It’s moments like these where timely messages of hope and encouragement are needed more than ever, a call to action that four siblings from Pennsylvania have made their personal mission as BONRAY.
Growing up in a home where music was always playing and practically another member of the family, Bonray - Zac (vocals, acoustic guitar), Jesse (electric guitar), Jake (bass) and Morgan (drums, vocals) Bonner—have been playing and performing together most of their lives.
Inspired by their father, a fellow musician, who always encouraged them to practice regularly and expand their repertoire by trying new instruments, Bonray was born out of the Bonners’ shared desire to live intentionally and pursue music with the specific purpose of “getting people excited about the good life that comes with following Jesus.”
While the group had a steady following in the mainstream arena before christening themselves as Bonray in 2014, a moniker that merges their tight family roots with their decidedly upbeat approach to life and music, there was an unmistakable tug on their hearts not to prioritize style over substance.
“We didn’t want to be just writing songs for the way they sound or a quick love song that doesn’t have an impact on people,” Jesse says. “With all the time and effort that goes into traveling to play music, and honestly, with the whole family involved, we wanted to do this for a real reason, one that would change people’s lives. With our music, we want to share the Gospel and the hope He’s given us.”
If there’s a word that sums up Bonray and the music they’re recording together, it’s joy. You hear it in their voices whenever they talk about the people they’ve met while crisscrossing the country on tour. You hear it when they talk about hanging out—and doing life—together. You also hear it in their sun-drenched pop songs packed with irresistible harmonies and clever hooks that’ll definitely get stuck in your head, and pure, unabashed joy runs deep in Bonray’s Provident Label Group/Sony Music debut six-song EP, Turn My Eyes.
The album’s anthemic title track, which was produced by Bryan Fowler (TobyMac, Mandisa) and co-written with Jonathan Smith (Zach Williams, We Are Messengers), is a relevant reminder of where hope is—and isn’t—found.
“When you scroll through your Facebook newsfeed, there are all these articles that talk about where you’re supposed to find happiness, hope and peace, and yet while so many people are looking for these things they aren’t finding them,” Zac shares. “With ‘Turn My Eyes,’ we wanted to write a song that brought it back to basics. At some point, everyone will face struggles, heartbreak, and challenges, and it’s easy to be paralyzed by fear. But we can find peace and courage when we look to Jesus. Rather than focusing on our circumstances, Jesus is the only real answer.”
The upbeat and catchy “Wildfire,” one of the five songs produced by Scotty Wilbanks (Third Day, Matt Maher), reflects the group’s mission of firing people up for Jesus. “It’s a simple song,” Jake shares. “We want it to charge people up and spread the Gospel around the world like wildfire.”
More reassuring testaments of God’s reliable and continual presence are found in the buoyant strains of “You Got Me” and “Good Life.”
“’You Got Me’ talks about what kind of relationship someone can have with God, this real friendship,” Jesse says. “He may feel far away, but in reality, He’s always close and that’s a truth we never want to hoard. It’s something we should be sharing with the people all around us.”
With “Good Life,” which reiterates the band’s goal of using music as a vehicle for bringing joy to people, Morgan says it’s also an opportunity to touch on how life’s “most enduring happiness and purpose is knowing your identity in Christ and following God’s unique call for your life.”
“So many people try to find satisfaction in all these other places,” Morgan continues. “It’s when you call to Him that you’ll ultimately find that good life. That’s what we want to tell the world, and that’s why we love making music together.”
Bonray’s 2017 release, “Turn My Eyes” reached the top 10 on Christian radio. The song “Inside Out” was released in the spring of 2018 and features all four members on vocals, a driving tempo, and a message that shares how God changes people from the “inside out.”