The Black Gospel Blog.
They don’t call the gospel highway a rough road to travel for nothing.
Amber Bullock can attest to that. It hasn’t been an easy road for the Season Four champ of BET’s Sunday Best.
Originally from St. Louis, Bullock and her baby daughter Amya moved to Fort Worth, Texas in May 2010 to be with her mother. Then, this January, her mother, a government employee, received a promotion that required her to move to New Orleans.
Bullock didn’t want to follow her mother to the Crescent City because she had just started developing a network of music contacts in Texas and wanted to keep them going. She moved in with one of her mother’s friends and commuted 45 minutes to her job in Mesquite.
On January 10, on the way to work, Bullock was involved a car accident. She and Amya were not harmed but the car was totaled.
“Living in Texas, you have to have a car,” Bullock told TBGB last week via telephone from New York, where she was preparing to appear on television. “I went from being able to provide for my baby and getting her to the babysitter to not being able to do anything at all, because I couldn’t make that commute without a vehicle.”
Bullock left Amya with her daughter’s father and moved in with a co-worker so she could get to her job. “It was very, very hard,” Bullock recalled. “My co-worker has six children, so I had to sleep on the floor.”
For years, friends had been telling Bullock to audition for Sunday Best, but she never did. “I’m not a competition person,” she explained. “But when Sunday Best came around this time, I decided I didn’t have anything to lose. I asked God to change my way of thinking about it. Instead of a competition, I thought of it as a platform.”
Friends gave Bullock a ride to the audition, she participated and, in the end, became the winner.
TBGB asked Ms. Bullock about life since Sunday Best and about her new album, appropriately titled Thank You (Music World Gospel), available in stores December 6.
TBGB: Were you singing gospel before Sunday Best?
I have worked in gospel music as a background singer but never as a solo artist. Of course, I’ve sung solos before, but I never had to be out in front, doing the exhorting, doing the show, if you will. I never had to do that until Sunday Best.
I have always wanted to just sing. That’s all I have ever wanted to do. I’ve practiced my autograph so many times! I just couldn’t get my hands on that dream and make it work. Sunday Best is one of the best platforms for gospel music, and I’m very grateful for it.
TBGB: Kim Burrell was one of your musical mentors. How did she help you?
The greatest thing Miss Kim taught me while on the show was confidence. She has so much confidence and attitude when she sings. She gave me tips on how to show confidence when singing.
TBGB: Did you have a sense that you would win Sunday Best?
I never really had a sense that I would win. It was a huge surprise, because [runner-up] Andrea [Helms] is Sunday Best to me. She was excellent. I believe it could have gone either way. I said, ‘God, your will be done. Whether you kick me off the show right away or I stay on until the last, I will be satisfied.’ I had to give all of my problems and worries to God, and he fixed everything.
TBGB: What was it like recording Thank You?
It was great working with Eric Dawkins, who is a mastermind of all vocals. I’m not new to studio work at all, and it was fun, especially since it is ‘Amber Bullock’ now. It’s still amazing to me.
TBGB: What song on the new album resonates most with your spirit?
A song called “For Every Mountain.” It was written by Kurt Carr, and it’s anthem-style gospel, but we redid it. It’s totally jazz. While I’ve been out on Kirk Franklin’s Fearless Tour, which has been the most exciting month of my life, people are grabbing hold of that song and they love it.
TBGB: The album includes songs by Richard Smallwood and Walter Hawkins. Do you like traditional gospel, or are you drawn to more contemporary sounds?
The songs are traditional songs but they are 'Amberized!' There is a lot of gospel jazz infusion on there. I didn’t want to give people the same thing they heard on the show because they can go to YouTube or BET.com and listen to that for free.
TBGB: What does Amya think of her mother’s becoming a gospel singing star?
My two-year-old is one of the smartest kids breathing! She knows exactly what’s going on! When I leave to go out of town, she thinks I’m going to do Sunday Best. I actually got to bring her along on a couple of dates during the Fearless Tour, and she loved every moment of it. She really thinks it’s about her, not about me!
TBGB: If you could wish upon a star, what would you like to see happen in the coming years, as far as your singing career?
I want to be around in the next couple of years. So many gospel artists come out and then you don’t hear from them anymore. I want to have a career like Kirk Franklin, a career with longevity. I want to be effective. I want people to have something to look forward to when they put my CD in their CD player. I want to be in some movies, too!
TBGB: What should we know about Amber Bullock, the person, not the gospel singer?
I’m just a regular person and I’m one of the goofiest people alive! Coming from nothing to so much now, I don’t take anything for granted that’s come my way.
I’m still getting used to walking into a room and a hundred people know who you are...and you don’t know who any of them are! I always want to be reachable. So if you see me, come on up. Talk to me. I don’t mind taking pictures, either.
For more information on Amber Bullock, visit www.musicworldgospel.com.