AGM Editor-in-Chief Chris Unthank got to talk with up and coming soloist Victoria Bowlin about her ministry and her new solo recording – You See Beauty!
Chris Unthank: Most of our readers know you as one of our reviewers and staff writers, but give us a brief history of your musical background.
Victoria Bowlin: I started singing with my family over 20 years ago, at the young age of 2. Back then, they were known as Unity. They traveled part time until 2001, when I took my uncle’s place as the third part with my parents. In 2008, we changed our name to our family name, The Shireys, and went full time. The group consisted of my dad Wayne, my mom Darlene, my younger sister Rachael, and myself. In February of 2014, I married my sweetheart, Aaron Bowlin. The following year, God called Aaron and I into a ministry of our own. I went full time as a soloist, and Aaron traveled with me, as much as possible, to preach. In September of 2015, God called Aaron into full time Evangelism with me. I was thrilled! Since then, God has been doing some amazing things in our ministry! In July of 2016, I got my first Singing News Top 80 charting song. It came in at #71 and was an original song that I had written entitled, “Still Faithful”. In August of 2016, I got chosen from an afternoon showcase at the Gatlinburg Gathering to sing on Main Stage. That was such an honor! Then, in September of 2016, the Lord really showed me favor when I was chosen from the afternoon showcase at the National Quartet Convention to sing on Main Stage! I then signed with Chapel Valley Records in October of 2016 and released my first project with them in April 2017. God has been so good to me!
CU: How has ministry been different for you now as a part of a preaching and evangelism team with your husband as opposed to traveling with your family?
VB: Honestly, it’s been very different. When I traveled with my family, no one preached. So, I have had to get used to sharing the program with my husband. Aaron is so awesome, though. He’s got such a sweet Spirit. I still sing 100% of the time, but he only preaches about 50% of the time. He is so supportive, though. Even when he’s not ministering, he’s all in. I love that!
CU: Tell us about your newest solo recording.
VB: My new album is titled You See Beauty. It is by far the best solo album that I have ever recorded! Eight out of 10 of the songs on the project are brand new songs that God has given me, including a song co-written by my friend Phil Cross. I am so excited about this CD! Shane Roark really outdid himself with the production. I really enjoyed working with the guys at Chapel Valley.
CU: How does this release differ from previous solo albums?
VB: Well, this is actually the first solo album that I have released since Aaron and I went full time in the ministry together. My previous solo albums were released while I was still traveling with The Shireys. The style is also a little different. In the past 2 1/2 years, I’ve been trying to “find myself”, so to speak. I wanted to find the style that suited me best and what I enjoyed singing the most. So, after much prayer and playing around with a lot of different styles, I believe I have found my unique style.
CU: What led you to Chapel Valley?
VB: Aaron and I talked and prayed about several different record companies before deciding on Chapel Valley. We just really felt a draw there. So, we sat down with Shane Roark and felt a kindred Spirit. In fact, while working together, Shane and I have found a lot of similarities musically and in personalities. Chapel Valley is one big family, and I’m happy to be a part.
CU: Talk to us about your songwriting. How did you get started writing?
VB: At 4 years old, my mom and Grandmother would film me singing around the house. I would constantly make up my own songs, some that made sense, some that didn’t! Haha. At 11 years old, my songs actually started to come together, and at sixteen years old, my family recorded my first five songs on an album entitled Don’t Look Back. I love to write. Songwriting is something that has just come naturally, and I believe, is a God given talent. Most of the time, I get the lyrics and melody to a song at the same time, and the Lord gives me lyrics faster that I can write them down.
CU: Who are you biggest influences, both vocally and songwriting?
VB: I’m a big Kim Hopper fan. Vocally, I think she’s the best. Over the years, I have learned much technique from her, which has helped me tremendously. As far as songwriting goes, Dottie Rambo is obviously one of the best there is, along with Gerald Crabb. I’m also a big fan of Joseph Habedank’s writing. I love deep lyrics that make you think and songs that you know came from a trial, therefore came from the heart.
CU: What’s coming up next for your ministry?
VB: We’ve got a lot of great things coming up. I will be performing at Dollywood for the first time this October 11 and 18, during the Southern Gospel Harvest Festival. Then in November, I will be singing at the Christmas in the Smokies in Pigeon Forge, TN, and in January, I will be cruising with my Chapel Valley family! We will be singing at sea for eight days. I can’t wait! For more information on these events and other scheduling, you can visit our website, www.bowlinministries.com.
CU: What has God been teaching you lately?
VB: Timing and faithfulness. God’s timing is perfect, and if He wants you somewhere, He will put you there in His time. In the past year especially, God has taught me that if we are faithful to Him, He will be faithful to us. That is key! There’s no magic formula to being successful. Just do your best, and let God do the rest.
For m ore information on Victoria and her ministry, visit her online at www.bowlinministries.com