Sharnessa's

Prayer 'n' News

Letter

   

FOR:

   

         

      

Hiya, Everyone!

   

Sharnessa here!  So how are

things going in your neck of the woods? All is quite well over here! Extremely busy though! Iíve had lots of people ask me to keep them posted on whatís happening with me and the group, so this should tell you everything you might be wondering about, and then some!  Things are developing very rapidly for V*Enna, so God is having to whip us into shape quite speedily. So here's what's happening! Letís start at the very beginningÖ

   

   

V*ENNAíS HISTORY:

   

A few years ago the vision for V*Enna, a commercial pop band that would be used to reach people for Jesus, began in the hearts of Mark Pennells and Zarc Porter. This amazingly talented duo produce and write for other Christian bands such as World Wide Message Tribe, Shine, and the American-based band Raze, as well as others. So while doing these projects, they put their vision for a commercial pop band on the back burner. 

   

Finally, in early 1999 they started the wheels in motion for V*Enna. Marc and Zarc first got Lucy Britten involved, who they had worked with previously, and then set out to find the rest of the band...

   

Mark contacted Peter Hutchinson, the principal of the school I was attending at the time in London, the School of Creative Ministries. Mark asked Peter if he could suggest anyone for Mark to audition for the band. Peter put forward me and a friend of mine, Peter Hathaway, who is from here in England. Mark came down from Manchester (200 miles northwest of London) to audition Peter and me, as well as several others from the School who wanted to try out. We individually went into a room with him, did some dancing and singing and he did a bit of interview. He asked us about our family, background, relationship with Jesus and what we desire to do for him. It was pretty cool!

  

SOÖ A week after we auditioned, Peter, our principal, gathered the auditioners together and told us that Mark wanted to thank us all for trying out. At this point I was thinking no one made it, but the Peter said, "And he would like to see Sharnessa and Peter again." So Peter and I held it in, but quietly expressed our excitement with each other and a few others later on. (Just so you know, Lucy and I are what make up V*Enna, Peter is one of the 3+ dancers.)

  

There was a good chance I would not be able to be part of the group because of how difficult it is for a foreigner to obtain a work permit/visa in the UK. So I felt led to use that as my "fleece."  I told God, "Alright, if this is You, Lord, please make this visa thing work out. I know itís an "iffy" situation, but weíll know itís You then!" After much prayer and jumping through many hoops in the system, I got it! (I know that fleeces arenít always the way to go, but I felt good about this in this situation!) 

  

Skipping a few months ahead, Peter and I were only about half way through the school year when we auditioned (and we were both enrolled in their one-year program), so we wouldnít be free to officially start for another seven months. So I went up to Manchester, where Mark and Zarc are based, a few times during the school year for a photo shoot, to meet people, and to record a demo, see how I sounded in the studio, etc. In the meantime Mark was making trips to Nashville working with different record companies, such as Sparrow, Essential and Word Records to get a record deal for V*Enna.

   

We finally decided to go with Essential, as they were extremely psyched about this project! Essential, and Robert Beeson in particular (the President Ė great guy! ), are also total proís at what they do. At the moment, including us, I believe they have ten artists on their label, five of which are in the Christian top 20 charts! And five are on the new WOW2000 CD. FYI, some of their artists include Jars of Clay, Caedmonís Call, Plumb and Third Day.

   

SIGNING THE DEAL

   

A short while ago, God blessed us tremendously by letting us sign the contract with Essential Records. This was phenomenal because A) most bands start on their own and struggle for years before getting a label, if at all, and B) we hadnít done a showcase for them, they had only heard the demo, seen the photos, met with Mark in Nashville and flown over to England to meet Lucy and me. (By the way, a "showcase" is when a band does a mini concert just for the repís from a record company, to "showcase" their material.) But they had never even seen us perform! (Thatís because it was only a few weeks ago that we did our first performance.) So what we signed with them was a five-album deal! Now that may sound a tad scary, but we had an excellent lawyer who spent weeks pouring over our contract. When we signed it we got an advance (money that works as a loan) from Essential, which is an incredible blessing because we were able to purchase supplies to get us up and running for the gigs over here and for the work weíll be doing in the schools.

   

V*ENNAíS VISION

   

There really are two parts to what we as V*Enna want to accomplish. First, amazingly enough, over here in Europe there is an open door to minister in the public schools! We feel our music will appeal especially to 5-14 year olds (though, of course, we hope and feel that people of all ages will enjoy it!), so weíre aiming for primary schools to minister in.

   

What we would do a couple of months out of the year is go into schools in England, speak a bit about Jesus, perform one song, and invite the kids to the main gig that Friday night, where we can be more extensive in what we say, such as testimonies and ministry, etc. And it will be more of a "proper" concert, with all our other dancers as well, as opposed to maybe just one or two dancers during the week. 

   

We really have a heart to reach kids of that age, to introduce them to Jesus when they are at such an impressionable age, and give them a good head-start by hopefully nipping some potentially negative habits and such in the bud.

  

The second part of our vision, I must say, is the part I am a bit more psyched about: discipleship. Evangelism is obviously very important because you canít disciple someone without the first committing to Jesus. (Obviously!)  BUT, the majority of the New Testament is on making disciples, not just making converts. The Great Commission is "Go forth and make disciples of all nations." (Matt 28:19). WOW! What a responsibility! So while we will do loads of evangelistic work, a huge part will be discipleship.

   

We will also be doing a few festivals in the States this summer, and then a full tour opening for a more well-known band or artist. (Plans are still on the drawing board.) So a large part of our focus in America will be to really challenge youth in the areas of using their singleness for God, using it as a time of preparation for the future. 

   

We also want to challenge them in the area of purity Ė in all areas. Not just in saving s_x* for marriage, but also in waiting for the one God has for them, saving their whole hearts for that person Ė not just giving that person the leftovers. 

   

And of course we want to encourage kids that they are forgiven and that itís not too late if they have already gone too far in this area. We so want to see kids rise above whatís now accepted as "the norm" for them these days, where everything is about instant gratification and living for self NOW. (Well, I suppose people of all ages deal with that!)  We SO want to challenge them to not settle for anything less than Godís best for their lives! 

   

One aspect of our (especially my) challenge to kids will be in the area of relationships, which has been on my heart since I was 14!  Often artists who have influence do nothing more with it than give a "positive" message to youth. Occasionally a Christian artist will encourage kids to not have s_x before theyíre married, and this is great, but there is so much more to it than that! Such messages, while good in and of themselves, present only the "external" while leaving out not only the heart motivation behind it: a love relationship with Jesus and a desire to walk with Him and be pure. It is this relationship (alone) that will give them the power to even be able to "abstain," as well as to have the wisdom to not even enter into a situation that might cause compromise! Itís about what you do with your heart, your desires, what you value, what you pour your physical, mental and emotional energy into. 

   

Mark (V*Ennaís manager) and Robert (our record company President) are really excited about what God has put on my heart to share. (In fact, Mark and Zarc are even writing a song on the subject of waiting (for s_x Ďtil marriage) for me so I can use that as an opener when I speak on this at the gigs! 

   

We donít want to simply be entertainment. Entertainment is great, and, of course, thatís a big part of it! We want to bless and challenge "churched" kids, but we want to also reach kids who have never stepped foot into a church; for these especially, our music and concerts will be the "draw." 

  

We want people to have a blast at our gigs and get into it with us and have fun. But we want to go deeper as well. We want kids to walk away changed! We want truly to challenge them with something they take into their own hearts and something that impacts them so much that it changes them for life, from the inside out, and that they can then challenge others with!

  

We so long to see young people get so solid in their relationship with Jesus, and come to know how amazingly valuable they are to Him, that from that solid foundation they can discover His plan for their lives and influence the world for Him and not be influenced by it!

   

PARIS

   

In mid-November we were sent to Paris for a photo shoot for our album cover. We had two 12-hour days, the first of which was on location around Paris in freezing cold weather. It was awful Ďcause we had to make it look like we were enjoying a summer day when, in fact, between each change of film, we were so cold that our stylist and our hair-and-make-up ladies were running our coats up to us for a full 45 seconds to enjoy a brief oasis of warmth! (Whoever said itís glamorous didnít know what they were talking about! ) We even had to sneak hand warmers in some photos, we were so chilled! (Thank goodness for lipstick or our lips would've been blue!) 

   

The whole crew came over from Nashville to do the shoot, and they were great! Overall we had a good, but very tiring time. Paris really is so beautiful, though! I can see why itís deemed one of the most romantic cities in the world! Canít wait Ďtil I have my Man there with me, and weíre married and we have more time to enjoy the sights!

   

 NASHVILLE

   

We had a blast in Nashville! It was a lot of work, but not nearly as tiring as Paris. We went there to record our single, speak at a sales conference, do a video shoot for our EPK (which is an "Electronic Press Kit" Ė a promo video that gets sent out to music and book stores), and do "band promo" for radio stations: "Hi! Weíre V*Enna and youíre listening toÖ"  (We had five pages full of these things!)  Essential treated us so well! They were so lovely! Itís like a big family there!  (And then just three days after this, Sam and I left for Sweden -- and then America -- for Christmas!  Busy time!)

   

THE MAXI-SINGLE CD!

   

Our maxi-single "All the Way to Heaven" was released on January 24th to radio stations around the States, but they might be doing a bit more work on it in the studio and re-release it right away. 

   

[FROM BARB/MOMMA:  The first two songs on the CD are the "actual" songs for the states. Two others are instrumental-only karaoke; and then the other three are very "different" mixes, one of which Sharnessa hadn't even heard; they used the same vocal tracks and then re-did the instrumentation in a totally different style.]

   

Like I said, we recorded the single while we were there in Nashville. We spent 12 hours doing it in a studio called "The Castle" where bands like dc Talk have recorded. 

   

It was then released to the American public on February 29th. (Some of you may have seen the advert in the last issue of CCM. Please excuse the photo of me if you saw it, I so disliked it!) 

   

TO KEEP UP-TO-DATE ON US!

There are actually two good options: You can either:

 

Sign up for Essential's "V*Enna Mailing List" which is generated by Essential Record Co. Go to www.v-enna.com (be sure to spell it just like that, with the hyphen) and look for the notice. That list will give you all the up-to-date info on record releases, tours, and such. (There's a link to this page at Essential's V*Enna Website in the gold dot. Click on your BACK button to return here.)

   

...AND/OR...

 

My wonderful Momma also has a "Sharnessaís Updates" list thatís more personal, especially since weíre in contact several times a week. If I were you, Iíd just get on both.  ^_^  (There's a link to this page in the -- you guessed it! -- pink dot!)

   

TOURING

   

Like I mentioned earlier, we will be doing a few festivals during the summer, then on August 19th is Sam's and my wedding(!!!!!).  Right after our honeymoon we begin promo for the full CD in Nashville and beyond. From there we will start the tour where we will open for more well-known artists and bands. 

   

Many have asked me (and my family) where exactly we'll be touring. This is all in the planning stages right now, (and I don't have any say in it  {:-(  ), but Iíll get the info to my mom as soon as it's set and I have it!  Essential will have it as well, of course. The best way to make sure you get the latest info is by signing up for at least one of the above-mentioned "updates" lists. 

   

THE NEW CD

   

Mark and Zarc just got back recently (in February) from spending a few days in Scotland where they wrote eight songs for our album thatís due to be released in August! They go to an old church thatís been converted into a place of rest; they pray, get inspired, and write songs! Are they mega-talented and gifted or what?!

   

We recorded three of the new songs in the studio last week (I learned and recorded them in five hours!), so that Robert and Bob (the main Essential guys) could hear them when they flew over here last weekend. We are all SO excited about the music! Itís really a brilliant* combination of many different sounds and styles of pop music!

   

THE NEXT STEP

   

After we finish a few gigs that we have lined up semi-locally, our focus will be to begin working on the full CD, and continuing with rehearsing and getting the show ready for America. Iím the "official" choreographer of the band, so I will continue working on that as well. (Of course we all work on it, though!)

        

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP!

   

PRAY!!! I have come to realize more and more how incredibly effective prayer really is, and I know I already have so many behind me in prayer and am SO blessed by that! So to those of you that that applies to, THANK YOU AND PLEASE KEEP IT UP!!! And to those of you who feel led to begin praying for us, it would be SO appreciated!!! (FROM BARB: the graphic above is supposed to be Heaven's Gates opening in response to prayer, in case you didn't catch that.   ;-D )  Please see the two sections that follow for "Specific Prayer Requests" and "Answered Prayers"!)

   

The V*Enna maxi-single was released on the 29th of February to Christian music and bookstores, so please pick up a copy!  Itís $2.99.  (If they don't have it, tell them it's available through Essential Records which is a division of Provident.) 

   

Call your local (and even un-local) radio station and request that they play "All the way to Heaven" by V*Enna!  (And in case you're wondering, it's not the record companies or the radio stations that determine the success of a group; it's YOU!    ^_^ ) 

 

Spread the word about our music, ministry, CD's and tours (once they start) to your friends and family (especially in other states)!

  

When the full-length CD is released in August of 2000, pick up a copy of it! It's going to have an awesome variety of new songs!!!

    

Come to one of our tours! We are looking forward to meeting many of you in person!!!

  

You can go to the official V*Enna web site if youíd like to hear a sample of the song and an interview clip of Lucy and me. Thereís more info and some fun stuff at:  www.v-enna.com. The Essential web site (the record label) has now added V*Enna to their website at www.essentialrecords.com!

    

SPECIFIC PRAYER REQUESTS:

   

Please keep praying!!! Here are a few more requests we have that we would love for you to keep us up in prayer for:

   

An increase in boldness for all of us as God begins to lead us into this new arena called "actually-doing-gigs!"

   

An inexpensive flat here in the Manchester area for Sam and I to live in after weíre married on August 19th . (^_^)

   

A car for Sam and me.

   

That God would give us (Lucy and me) little gems to share with the youth at our gigs. By "gems" I mean testimonies, stories of what God has done in our lives, neat things Heís taught or shown us, especially about His love for usÖ that really make a lasting impression on their hearts, and that they can truly relate to.

   

That when Sam moves up here in April, he would adjust quickly and catch right on to his new job as our Operations Manager/Ministry-developer/Pastor-on-the-road. (Heís so multi-talented and gifted!)

   

Health and safety for all of us.

   

That, between our booking agent, record company president, and manager, they would wisely organize the tour to be the most effective.

   

That God will continue to open awesome doors and lead us where He wants us to go, and that He would prepare the hearts of the kids that weíre going to reach. We want to be part of many "divine appointments"!

   

That God would continue to prepare me and Sam for our marriage! That He would use this time to teach us all He wants to teach us in this season before we enter the beautiful covenant of marriage! (Yes, our heads may be a bit in the clouds, but trust me, our feet are very securely on the ground! You gotta keep a good balance, you know!)  (From Mom/Barb: Click on the rings to see their Engagement Announcement here at this website!)

   

God's covering and protection over all of the marriages, relationships, and families involved with the band in every aspect.

   

Ongoing financial support. While the advance from Essential was a tremendous blessing, about 75% of that money goes towards production of the CD, and the rest goes into setting up the band. So weíve been blessed to be able to buy sound equipment for local gigs (UK, Europe), a van for transportation, some stage costumes, and to temporarily cover our living costs. However, this advance is to be seen as a loan, since all of the money we were given is to be paid back from CD sales and the "success" of the band if we "make it."

   

I know a lot of this may look like weíre living a life of glamour and like weíre making loads of money, but I want to make it clear to you, we are not. While Essential has blessed our socks off by paying for flights and such on business trips, that's just getting us where we need to go; they do not pay our wages. We are paid hourly (minimum wage) at the moment, out of the advance, but we are living very frugally, and the fund is diminishing quickly because of the many different expenses that go into getting a band and ministry started. 

   

Furthermore, when Sam comes onto the team in April, that will be another salary that has to be paid solely out of the support raised. But we know God has called us both into this. (We prayed big time and are so psyched about this! We are so blessed to get to work in ministry together!) It is a step of faith (a BIG ONE!!), but we know that at the same time as we have to sacrifice a lot (Sam is leaving his very secure job at Kensington Temple in London), God is faithful! We are in need of people who will support us on a regular basis, but we want them to be ones who know that God has placed this ministry on their hearts. So please keep us in your prayers!

   

ANSWERED PRAYERS!

   

I must start with the biggest blessing of all. My "Knight in Shining Armour," my "Prince," my precious fiancť, Samuel Sanden. After seven years of waiting and praying for "my man," God has blown me away with "the one." Guys and girls, it is SO worth the wait! If youíre in the process of waiting for "him" or "her," DONíT give up, DONíT settle for anything less than Godís best, and HANG IN THERE! In fact, donít just hang in there, donít be passive about the precious season that youíre in! Donít take it for granted, but use it! Prepare, grow, allow God to stretch you! Okay, sermonís over!) Thank You, Father God, for Sam! Heís more amazing than I ever could have dreamt of, and I stand more in awe of your faithfulness as each day goes by!

   

Lucy and I are really growing in our friendship! (We are two strong-minded gals from two very different cultures, so this doesn't come naturally!  ^_^ )

   

The record deal and advance came through with Essential!

   

We finally got our other bloke (guy) dancer! His name is Bobby, and is actually from Hawaii originally, but has lived in Scotland with his family for eight years! He fits right in with us all!

   

That we all get along really well Ė we have such a laugh together!

   

That Sam has already been blessed with accommodation from the time he moves up here in April until we leave to tour the States in the summer or fall!

   

That I found accommodation for March-April, and that I get to come back here after that Ďtil the tour!

   

Our first gigs were a total blast!  We got a brilliant** response from the kids! 

   

And thanks to you all, SO very much, who have already encouraged and supported us in so many ways! You are such a blessing!

   

   

THANK YOU, JESUS!!!

YOU ARE SO GOOD!!!!  WE

CANíT WAIT TO SEE Ė AND BE

PART OF Ė WHAT YOU

HAVE IN STORE!

   

************

 

  

* I have deleted the "e" from the word "s_x" because certain servers, in an attempt to keep web surfing safe and pure for their customers, block any web pages ~ even entire sites ~ from being accessed if they contain "that word."  My web site is hardly one for Christian families wanting to deepen their walks with God or help their children purify their relationships to avoid!

 

     

** brilliant

For you Americans who have not heard the term

used this way, this means the same as "exceptional,"  "amazing,"  

"awesome," or "wonderful"!

   

 

      

      

   

    

The V*Enna background (of

Sharnessa and Lucy) and the CD

cover are from:

   

...the cute little angel is from:   

...the stairway is from:

   

...the dripping candle,

the moving highway, and the

opening gate are from:

   

...the little gold, blue and lavendar dots (bullets) are from:

   

Back to Sharnessa's Main Page

   

To Newspaper Article on Sharnessa page

     

To the How to Sign up for Sharnessa's Updates List page 

      

  To the V-Enna Page (here at this website)

  

To the V*Enna Website

(not at this website; to return, click on your BACK button)