“I am glad that the audience got to see my talent. I am just praying that this is the beginning of my career.” Bonds said he has been in contact with several record labels in hopes of landing a contract.
Robert J. Ulrich, the casting director for “Glee,” had nothing but praise for Bonds . “He is an amazing human being,” Ulrich said. “He has a beautiful voice. When he got on the ‘Glee Project,’ I said, ‘I can’t believe this person can’t see.’ Being blind never became an issue.”
Watching her grandson on the show from her new home in Greenville, N.C., Johnnie Mae Bonds, was also impressed — and proud.
“I knew he would do something. It was in him from a little boy when he would get my pots and pans and beat on them with a spoon,” she said.
In June, Bonds was watching television in Los Angeles, where he was about to begin taping, when he received a call from his father. Norman Bonds had just been released after 15 years in prison.
“I said, ‘Hello. Who is this?’ and the guy said, ‘I am your father,’ ” Bonds recalls. “My heart dropped.” The elder Bonds told his son that he read comments online from people who had been inspired by Bonds’s success making the show. “It makes me feel good to have a son like you,” Bonds said his father told him.
Then the man apologized for not being there while his son was growing up. “It was overwhelming. I said I would have to call him back. I hung up the phone and I bitterly cried,” Bonds said.
Bonds talked with his father by phone a few more times while he was in L.A., but the conversations were difficult.
“It was hard because the little boy in me always wanted to hear my dad say something like that,” Bonds said. “Part of me was crying, but the adult in me said, ‘Why now?’ The timing was hard.”
Last weekend, Bonds flew back to visit friends and family in the District and attend services at Refuge Temple, where he was honored for his accomplishments by Bishop W. Michael Fields, the church’s pastor. Bonds’s sister, Olethia Bonds, watched, as did his older brother, Tedrick.
As Bonds sat in a pew at the start of the service, his father walked into the church. The men found each other and embraced. The elder Bonds sat down with his son and later guided him as he passed the collection plate.
“I have never gone to church with my dad in my life, but I am ready for complete forgiveness,” Bonds said after the three-hour service filled with songs of praise and joy.
The elder Bonds, who lives in Alexandria, said he hopes to finally get to know his son.
Sure, he wishes that things had been different. “But I am grateful for the time we spend together. . . . I am very proud of [my son],” he said.
After the sermon, Bonds came up for prayer and Fields anointed his head with olive oil. So much determination in the face of adversity, the pastor said. So much faith in God during hard times.
The next day, Bonds flew back to Hollywood to continue pursuing his dream.