For years, Refel Rushing had kept his romantic ballads close to his heart.
But now the world can hear his music.
And Waxahachie can see his generous nature.
Rushing, 75, has spent much of his life giving back to the community through philanthropic efforts. But recently it has taken its lifelong love of music and turned into another avenue of service.
Rushing, who lives in Italy, worked with highly decorated musician Jay Hinson to produce his debut album titled “Love Over Time”.
To date, Rushing and Hinson have recorded six songs on the nine song album, and eight have been written. All songs are written and sung by Rushing.
Once a month, Rushing plans to release a new song from the album, and he will accompany everyone’s release with a charitable act in the community.
To coincide with the album’s most recent song, “Never Been Here Before,” Rushing is sponsoring a mural for the Waxahachie Baseball League which will be on display at Optimist Fields.
Ed Mestyanek of ELM Custom Art in Waxahachie, along with local artists Jessica Chaney and Trevor Riley, painted the mural.
âEd had mentioned to me that there was an opportunity here, and I said I intended to get more involved in the community,â said Rushing.
The mural features images of Babe Ruth, Nolan Ryan, the American and Texas flags, the Waxahachie logo and the words âTake Me Out to the Ballgameâ.
âHe wanted it to be baseball related, and it was important to have a hometown feel,â Mestyanek said. âThis is Texas, which is why there is Nolan Ryan there. And then there’s historical significance, so that’s where Babe Ruth comes in. We have the American and Texas flags, so it’s patriotic. We wanted something that will last for ages like Babe Ruth did and like Nolan Ryan will.
For Rushing, funding the mural made perfect sense. He played Little League Baseball in Harlingen between the ages of 5 and 12.
âNaturally, I was drawn to Little League Baseball,â Rushing said. âSo that seemed to fit. “
Mestyanek said the mural took five days.
âIt was great for the kids to come and guess who the ball players would be,â he said. âEven before they were recognizable, the children had guessed it well. So I guess we picked the right ones.
Also in conjunction with the song’s release, Rushing plans to donate a calf from his personal stock to an Italian ISD student for display at the Ellis County Youth Livestock Show.
While “Love Over Time” is Rushing’s debut album, the music is far from being of new interest.
Rushing said his interest in music started very early on when he sang for his church choir. He soon discovered that he had a talent for creating his own songs.
âI composed it but never did anything with it,â said Rushing.
The songs in his head had a common theme.
âThe songs I heard were about love,â Rushing said. âIt occurred to me that what I wanted to focus on was the relationship between two people. The beginning, the middle and the end of it.
He said that while each song sounds different, they are related in many ways.
âIt’s about relationships,â Rushing said. âHow people are connected, fall in love or don’t stay in love. All the dynamics of being in a relationship.
In fact, he and Hinson have a plan to connect them even more. Rushing wants to add a prelude, interludes and postlude to the album to create a full storytelling experience, which he believes would be similar to the music from “Phantom of the Opera”.
âIt will be almost like a play and it will be an hour of music,â Rushing said.
A great way to end a project that has lasted for years.
âI haven’t shared my music for a long time,â Rushing said. âBut it’s time to share it and finish the final product. “
As Rushing finishes his first major music project, he is already thinking about another way to support the community. And this one involves his ranch.
In 2007, Rushing moved from Waxahachie to Italy where he purchased a 260 acre ranch. Rushing said he bought the property from a family who had owned it for a year, but before that the ranch had been owned by the same family for 150 years.
Shadow R Ranch has a small cattle operation and lots of wildlife.
Rushing said he saw a lot of beauty when he was at the ranch and also saw an opportunity to share it.
âI’m at the stage where I want to share the ranch in an uneconomical way,â he said.
Rushing said he plans to open the ranch to provide a place for people to share their poetry and aerial painting. It can also be used for classical music events.
âThe idea is for people to come to the ranch at no cost and create something for the community,â Rushing said.
The ranch can also serve as a prime place to teach people about rejuvenating herding, another of Rushing’s passions.
Rushing said his interest in helping others began in the 1980s when student loans were hard to come by.
Early in his career, he was President and CEO of LoanSTAR Funding Group, Inc., which has made progress in funding student loans for students seeking higher education.
He also helped establish the Greater Texas Foundation, which helped increase access to post-secondary education for Texan students from underserved and socio-economically disadvantaged communities.
Rushing said the foundation has provided more than $ 104 million in grants since its inception. The foundation has also conducted awareness campaigns for minority groups and grants to school districts in Texas.
Rushing also raised $ 150 million for student loans and tuition fees.
He also created scholarships for first generation and underserved students in South Texas.
Rushing plans to release the album’s fourth song, “Secret Places,” on November 15. At the same time, he plans to organize a fundraiser at the newly built lodge on his ranch. The money from this sum is expected to go to the Wounded Warrior Project, which funds programs, services and events for war-wounded veterans after September 11, 2001.
In the coming days, Rushing also plans to record an audio playback of 26 poems he has written over the years.
He said he and Hinson also plan to record Christian music in the future.
And even ideas for a new album are starting to take shape, Rushing said, although he has said he won’t be starting these songs until the current album is finished. After all, it’s been a long time coming.
âI had kept my music just for family and friends,â Rushing said. âBut I decided to take it up a level, especially with the new stuff I’m working on. This has been in the works for some time. “
For more information on Rushing’s music, visit RefelRushingMusic.com.