The Jane and Emma movie opened in select theaters on Friday evening, 12 October 2018. It is the true-life story of two women – one black and the other white. At a time in history when the bonding of friendship of two people of different races was risky at best, Jane Elizabeth Manning James and Emma Smith defied all odds as their friendship grew. Jane Elizabeth Manning James was a free negro who had traveled more than 800 miles to Nauvoo, Illinois, with some members of her family by foot after being denied passage on a boat because they were black. Emma Smith was the wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
The multitalented Bonner Family – the mother, Debra Bonner, the father, Harry Bonner, and eight siblings (4 boys and 4 girls) provide the music for the main score of the film with an original song that they wrote called “Child of God.” The music video for the song, including clips from the Jane and Emma Movie, was released on the Excel Ent YouTube channel on 18 September 2018, and has been viewed more than 33,000 times.
Debra and Harry Bonner served as Baptist missionaries in Africa before becoming members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly referred to as the Mormon Church.) They have taught their progeny that both music and faith in God are of the upmost importance. Debra Bonner is a world-renowned vocal coach, and each member of the family is a talented vocalist in his or her own right.
Recently the family was interviewed by KUTV 2 in Utah. Speaking about their faith, Yahosh Bonner commented, “That’s like the foundation of the gospel in knowing who we are. That’s the inspiration, what we have been learning since we’ve been growing up.” Clotile Bonner Farkas spoke about their music being a part of a film on the big screen. She said, “This was absolutely the next step for us. It just feels like this move into the big screen and doing music we love, about something we love, was organic.”
The musical journey all began when the family agreed to get together in the studio and record their first song together as a gift to their mom. The song that they recorded is called “I Am Here.” A movie producer noticed the song and asked the Bonners to write and record a song for the Jane and Emma film.
The Bonner Family has always been a close-knit family but recording together side-by-side has brought about a whole new meaning of love and togetherness. Oba Bonner said, “I really think God has had a hand in our family life.” And, Harry Bonner said, “We are so fortunate to have these eight kids. They are not ordinary kids. They are extraordinary.”
The eight Bonner siblings and their parents gathered from around the country to compose and record their debut EP that went on sale last month. The title of the EP is The Bonner Family. Deseret Book proclaims that the album “features their expertly crafted vocal harmonies, soulful original songs, and a medley of beloved children’s hymns. This is music that creates an atmosphere of peace, unity, and joy from one of the most talented families working in Christian music today.” The six tracks on the EP include the songs “Child of God,” “Primary medley,” “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me,” “Grace,” “Never Alone,” and “I Am Here.” The message behind the songs that the Bonner family hopes to get across to all who listen is that “We need Him, and He is here.”