Category Archives: music

One month after his wife died, Danny Gokey tried out for American Idol

danny gokeyDanny Gokey’s wife died unexpectedly during a routine heart surgery in 2009.

“They gave me a private room and I yelled out loud, ‘God you have to save her! You have to heal her! You have to. You cannot leave me alone like this!’” he said on an I am Second video. “It got to the point where she was gone, and once again that old familiar thing of fear came back into my life.

“I felt in my heart, God’s mad at me.”

Christian singer Daniel Jay Gokey, 40, is best known for his first single, “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me,” which peaked at number 29 on the country chart, inspiring him to release his full record My Best Days in early 2010.

Born in Milwaukee, Danny attended Heritage Christian Schools and sang with his family in church. In his mid twenties he became the director of Faith Builders International Ministries.

Leyicet-Peralta-WikiDuring this time, he married Sophia Martinez, who was also a fellow church-going music fan.

It was Sophia who encouraged Danny to audition for American Idol. He was accepted as a recipient and ultimately placed third in 2009. This launched his music career, which he aimed at the Christian pop segment.

Four weeks before Danny’s tryout on American Idol, Sophia died. He performed his best in devotion to her.

“I made a promise that I would go try out,” Danny says. “Little did I know that when I would try out for this show, it would be a month after she passed.”

Sophia had a heart condition from birth but had gotten it fixed in a surgery when she was young. Or so Danny thought.

“Little did I know that in our first year of marriage that we’d be in the hospital together because her heart was beating 200 times per minute,” Danny recalls. “And that’s when the doctor dropped the news on us. We were both 24 years old. He said, ‘We’re going to have to have another heart surgery.’”

In his youth, Danny was plagued by all kinds of irrational fears. Many of his fears centered on whether God truly and unconditionally loved him.

Now all the old fears rose up. Read the rest: Danny Gokey’s wife died.

Zabbai just used God until he felt His warm love

73523542_2456959294358186_3860788287543181312_oZabbai says he “pimped out” God.

In the modern usage of the word, “to pimp” means more than just running a prostitution operation. It means to use something only for your personal benefit.

Whatever linguistic evolution has done to water down the word “pimp,” its usage by Christian rapper Zabbai is still a startling self criticism of his life as a pastor’s kid.

I lived life as a phony Christian
Livin’ in sin knowing I could ask forgiveness
Sick how I manipulated your heart
Pimpin’ you out, treatin’ you just like a broad.

artist_781974-1548001580At 17, Bradsley Rumble came to terms with the Jesus he avoided in his youth while he was smoking marijuana and “flexing” to get girls.

“It was then (I) realized that truth is not a thing but a person,” he says.

Born of Jamaican culture into a Christian family in Connecticut, Bradsley, who now goes by a stage name, struggled with fitting in with his peers instead of standing out as a church goody-goody.

Beginning in the 9th grade, he practiced hip hop. When he came to Jesus, he ditched the sin and donned the rap. He adopted the name Zabbai from the Old Testament, which he says means “wanderer, pure, flowing.” Read the rest: Zabbai Christian rap artist

Hyper Fenton’s eruption on CHH

_500W_500HWhen Seth Jacon Fenton searched for a stage name, he had only to think what afflicted him in grade school and what led to innumerable suspensions.

“Hyper” was the name he chose, which he uses with his last name.

Hyper Fenton’s unique mixture of hip hop and electronic music erupted on CHH in 2016. The Dallas native may be “Chilling in Dallas” (the name of what is perhaps his most popular song), but he hasn’t chilled about much. He’s been hyperactive since childhood.

Naturally, one gig is not enough for a man of boundless energy. He is the minister of preschool and children at his father’s church, Meadows Baptist Church, in Plano, Texas, immediately north of Dallas.

image-asset

No doubt, he’s a hyper snowboarder. Pictured with his wife. Is she hyper too?

He’s also an actor. In fact, he studied acting in college, acted in plays throughout school, and “acted up” in the classroom. “Whether on stage or in the principal’s office, Seth was full of passion, hyperactive, explosive, many times impulsive,” his website says. “Seth had a yearning, a longing to dream, perform and to express himself.”

It was also in college that he fell in love with hip hop. When Moflo Music Production’s owner heard a song randomly from Hyper Fenton, he approached him about working together. The results: numerous singles and three albums — Kindergarten Dreams, Terabithia and Remembering Me.

The 27-year-old grew up in his dad’s church and accepted Jesus into his heart at age six. He loved Jesus but was drawn intensely to performing arts.

“It seemed that with Seth there were two things at war within him, a desire to Love and serve Jesus Christ, the God who saved him, and a desire to express himself through art and creativity,” his website says. Read the rest: Hyper Fenton Christian rap.

CHH pioneer T-Bone saved out of gangs, dealers and pimps

80536418_1410315875758739_1248071643146747904_oHis best friend was lying twitching on the grass, dying as a result of two bullets fired in a drive-by shooting. His last words: “Just tell everybody to wear red at my funeral.”

As Ralphie slipped into eternity without Jesus, T-Bone decided to “flip” to his parents’ side. The son of pastors in the Mission District of San Francisco, T-Bone lived a double life: he carried his Bible to church on Sunday and a knife in his pocket every other day as a Blood gangster.

61085953_1111468262310170_3756676850064031744_o“I was raised amongst the gangs, drug dealers and pimps,” T-Bone told CBN. “I was left for dead. I had 15 gang members break into my spot at three in the morning and try to kill me. I know what it’s like to have a gun drawn on me, what it’s like to deal with some stuff and jump folks.”

Today T-Bone is one of the longest-standing Christian Hip Hop artists, but when Rene Francisco Sotomayor was born to a Nicaraguan dad and Salvadoran mother who together pastored a church, he wasn’t particularly moved to serve God.

What drew him was the flash and danger of the streets glamorized by shock rap like N.W.A., Public Enemy and 2Pac. He was skinny, hence nicknamed “Bones,” and started with clubs and house parties but progressed to anger and violence. He rapped from age seven.

T-BoneAlmost getting killed himself was not enough for him to choose the undivided life of serving Jesus. But his buddy’s death brought him to a crossroads.

“What did he die for? For this ignorant color?” he asked.

When a guest speaker at his parents’ church urged listeners to accept Jesus, young T-Bone went to the altar.

“As soon as I went, I began to cry. The presence of God was there,” he told CBN. “The Holy Spirit hit me. I said the sinner’s prayer. And that’s when I became what I named my first album: a redeemed hoodlum.” Read the rest: T-Bone Christian rapper.

Pot made Jarry Manna a Darwinist, but paranoia made him turn to God

anime jarry mannaChristian Hip Hop star Jarry Manna used to be a “pothead” Darwinist who thought the church was a scam to get people’s money.

“I was allowing dark things to take over my mind,” he told JamTheHype. But he also always “thought someone was coming to get me. My spirit was just open to any type of darkness, anything to tamper with my mind. There was something deeper going on there, at the point of thinking about killing myself.”

The paranoia, a product of his cannabis addiction, was taking over his brain. He remembered a cousin who had a gun.

“I was gonna go get his gun and off myself,” he recounted.

jarrymannafeatureBut then he remembered his grandmother, a devout Christian, and called her. Her wisdom that day saved Jarry’s life and gave him a new direction.

“She kind of allowed for me to come back to Christ,” he said.

He returned to church and quit rapping. That’s what his pastor wanted him to do.

But a friend, Quincy Howard, kept bringing him back to rap. He knew that Jarry was good and didn’t want to see the gift squandered. But when he returned to hip hop, this time it was Christian lyrics.

Read the rest: Jarry Manna Christian rapper

Single dad CHH star reaches out to people lost in the streets

benjamin broadway CHHHe thrilled to strap up a Glock, flex a gold chain and fancy car and gangbang in the streets, but when Benjamin Broadway stood over the casket of his close friend Johnny Talyor, God interrupted the thug life fantasy he was living.

“That can be you,” the Most High told Benjamin. “God just attacked me.”

The dark reality of mortality combined with the stark prophecy from God prompted Benjamin to straighten up. He cut off his street friends and went to the local Vineyard Church.

Today, the South Bend, Indiana, native spearheads of subgenre of Christian Hip Hop called Gospel Trap that is oriented more for sinners than saints.

benjamin broadway single dad CHH rapper“I’m trying to save the hood,” he says in a 2016 Rapzilla video. “Gospel Trap is putting God where He’s needed. People that’s in church every Sunday God got them some way somehow. But people in the streets don’t have Him. I’m trying to give music to the streets”

The Tupac-influenced artist came under fire from Christian circles when he dropped “God in the Bando” (a bando is an abandoned house that has been taken over by dealers and addicts) by saints who want to maintain a high holy wall of separation between the church and the world. Benjamin employs ghetto language to entice sinners to listen, but he redefines the words out of the Bible. A lot of Christians don’t get the strategy.

“I’m using a lot of key words that the hood knows, and I’m putting them in a gospel perspective,” he says. “You’re going to hear stuff like ‘plug’ — all different types of keywords that no other Christian artist is using. When I put out ‘God in tha bando,’ people was attacking me. I mean, attacking me. I’m like, how come people don’t know that I’m trying to put the message out on the streets? I want to save a million souls.”

His lyrics come short of an R rating. Some parents may want to steer their Chrisitan kids to more sanitized raps. But the older youth from the suburbs would do well to approach Benjamin’s music as a sociological study of the ghetto and sensitivity training.

He’s quite the wordsmith. In one song he reflects on how it’s not easy to make a living in Christian Hip Hop even if you strike it big. “I know you broke CHH” he raps. It’s an expression of making a sensation that shuts down others because of the explosion of attention to you. He goes on to reflect on how the artist can still “be broke” financially.

Benjamin got away from the faith of his parents in high school. Everyday his dad would nag him to serve Jesus and would read him his favorite verse, which he hid through secret combination of numbers in his album “Gospel Trap 2.”

“I felt like my friends were my family; we started our own clique and ended up getting in a lot of trouble. Did a lot of things,” he told God Reports. “I think the reason why I did it so long was the friends that were around me, we were close. Plus not only that, you get addicted to the street life, you end up glorifying it, and continue to think it’s right. But in reality it’s harming you.”

He got kicked out of high school for fighting rival gang members but still managed to graduate. For some of his shenanigans in the streets, he would up locked up in jail, though only for a week.

“That made me realize — being locked up in a cell like an animal — that is not the way I wanted to live,” Benjamin said. “I didn’t want the government being in charge of my life (through prison officials and judges, etc). I don’t like jail or the police (no offense to the good officers that protect america in a good way).” Read the rest: Benjamin Broadway Christian rap

She overcame lack of love of father: CASS

Cass synthesizer musicHaving a distant dad only heightened her teenage insecurities.

Cassandra Kanda, a Zimbabwe-born Christian musician making waves in Christian Hip Hop now, grew up in New Zealand where she NEVER fit in high school.

“I struggled with rejection. I was bullied pretty badly when I was 8 years old in school,” she says an exclusive interview with God Reports. “So by the time I was a teenager, rejection was something I didn’t want to ever experience. And when I did experience it, it would hurt more than anything because of all the baggage I was carrying from it since I was young.”

In her soon-to-be-released album, Cass (usually her stage name is stylized CASS) explores the perceived lack of fatherly love and its subsequent repercussions in low self-esteem. It wasn’t until she profoundly understood the Heavenly Father’s love that she righted.

Cass in christian hip hop“When I discovered God’s fatherly love, it revolutionized my life,” she says in email interview. “It’s something till this day that still makes me emotional because I’ve only ever experienced a Father’s love from God. That’s why I’m so passionate about it.”

Cass is the synthesizer wunderkind of Christian music. She was featured recently on Reach Record’s collective song “Light Bearer,” which was a mantra for the label starting 2018.

Who would have thought the immigrant would amount to — or surmount such hardships — to attain renown in Christian music? Her beginnings were humble.

She immigrated, with her family, when she was 7. She attended church unrelentingly with her family and accepted Jesus as a youngster and then rededicated her life to Christ when she saw the play “Heaven’s Gates & Hell’s Flames” at age 16.

cass in concert christian“That’s when I really started to walk with God fully,” she says.

The adjustment to a new culture was worsened by a hostile reception at grade school where she, as a small African girl, was bullied by the New Zealand kids so badly that her parents had to change her educational center.

Her father, perhaps because of the African culture, was emotionally detached, Cass says, and this further damaged her self-concept.

“I grew up with a distant parent. This teamed up with the fact that I was bullied pretty badly,” she says. “So I tried everything I could do to fit in (which never worked cause I NEVER did fit in in high school), and it would bother me so much.”

Fortunately, she was growing in the Word and prayer, and eventually she realized fully God’s love.

“It’s not until I realized who I was in Christ, that’s when that fear of rejection broke of me,” Cass says. “What I was looking for — that acceptance or approval from people I was never going to find from the crowd. I would only find it in God.” Read the rest of CASS Christian musician.

Tori Kelly rejected?

tori kelly smileFirst she got cut from a record label. Then she got cut from American Idol.

Tori Kelly was told she wasn’t pretty enough, wasn’t bubbly enough, wasn’t talented enough.

“This wasn’t just one door closing. This was ANOTHER door closing out of all these doors that have closed in my face,” Tori says on an “I am Second” video. “I was so devastated. I was this singer who if I failed, then people would be disappointed.”

Wut? Tori Kelly cut?

tori-kelly christian singerToday, Victoria Loren Kelly, 27, is one of the most heralded singers in pop music. The Capital Records-signed Christian gospel musician has won two Grammys after songs on her two albums “Unbreakable Smile” and “Hiding Place” charted Billboard’s Hot 100.

The painful rejections in her attempt to follow her dreams have led her to some insights valuable to young girls who think they don’t measure up.

“It might take a while but one day your going to grow into your own skin and be the woman that God uniquely made as you,” the star says. “You’re being built into the woman that God wants you to be. And you don’t have to compare yourself to anybody.”

Tori Kelly ChristianBorn in Wildomar, California, Tori had a dad of Jamaican and Puerto Rican ancestry and a mom descended from German and Irish blood. Her parents loved music, exposed her to every genre and encouraged her early interest.

At age 12, she signed with Geffen Records, but that deal fizzled. She taught herself the guitar and began composing songs, which she uploaded to YouTube, getting one million subscribers. She competed in American Idol’s ninth season but fell out before the final 24.

“That’s when I went back into my room and I started to journal a lot,” she confides. “I wrote about confusion, feeling different. I was getting out these emotions that I’ve never been really good at explaining. It was just kind of this messy book of all my thoughts and prayers. (I wrote down:) ‘Lord, guide me. I don’t know who I am without singing.’”

The downtime — the time alone crying with God — was unpleasant. But ultimately, they were good for her. Read the rest: Tori Kelly failed.

When Mark Wahlberg heard the jail door slam behind…

mark-wahlberg-rhea-His parents were always working and left him unsupervised, so Mark Wahlberg took to the streets and found drugs, racism, crime — and jail.

For beating mercilessly two Vietnamese men at age 16, he was tried as an adult for attempted murder. He pleaded guilty to assault and was sentenced to two years in prison. He ultimately served only 45 days of his sentence, but carries a permanent felony record.

“When I heard the jail doors close behind me … I knew that was just the beginning for me,” he says. It was the beginning of a life in crime or the beginning of a fresh start, if he turned his life around.

Wahlberg, famous for acting in Transformers Age of Extinction, turned to God and to his Catholic priest to help straighten out his life.

Mark-Wahlberg-Jesus-Christian“I should be in a lot of places and it should not be here, so trust me, God is so good,” he says. “Thank you Father.”

Wahlberg goes to church for at least 15 to 20 minutes daily and also prays every day, allowing him to begin each morning with a clear outlook and avoid negativity.

“Faith keeps me focused, patient, calm, happy and gives me joy,” Wahlberg said in an interview with Walter Scott. “I start and end my day in prayer. It keeps me grateful, humble, hungry, committed to trying to do more and be more positive. It is the reason for everything good in my life. If I can start out my day saying my prayers and getting myself focused, then I know I’m doing the right thing. That 10 minutes helps me in every way throughout the day.”

Wahlberg, the youngest of nine children, starred in Daddy’s Home, Planet of the Apes and Boogie Nights. In 2006, he earned a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his roll in the neo-crime drama The Departed. Recently, he has served as executive producer of four HBO series: the comedy-drama Entourage (2004–11), the period crime drama Boardwalk Empire (2010–14), and the comedy-dramas How to Make It in America (2010–2011) and Ballers (2015–present).

mark wahlberg the bad boyWahlberg got his start in entertainment in the music industry. He was one of the founding members, at age 13, of the boy band “New Kids on the Block,” which he quit after only a few months. He became the frontman for the group “Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch,” releasing the albums Music for the People and You Gotta Believe. His music is mostly Hip Hop and Eurodance.

Since his initial incarceration prompted a spiritual turn-around, his walk with Jesus has been a continual re-committing daily to the Lord. For Wahlberg, the “journey to redemption” is a “process” of seeking Jesus.

transformers-markwahlberg-biggun“That’s why I start my day everyday by getting on my hands and knees and starting a time of prayer and reading Scripture, and then I feel like I can go out there and conquer the world.

Initially, it was hard for him to break with the other bad boys of the block. He had to walk from his home to the train station everyday, and the guys didn’t like the fact that he’d left them. “If I wasn’t with them, I was against them” in their minds, he says. “So I had that to overcome, but I was committed to turning my life around.”

Eventually he came to the revelation that he belonged to a huge community of believers and dedicated himself to the church, to the people and to God. He saw it as a beautiful thing to have such a support network. “You just have to believe and have faith and know that you can accomplish it and turn your life around.” Read the rest: From racist to Christian actor, Mark Wahlberg.

Korean? Chinese? American? mother? wife? RAPPER? The many rolls of HeeSun Lee

Heesun_Lee_adopted christian musicianIf there’s anyone who could be confused by her own identity, it’s HeeSun Lee. She’s Korean by birth, Chinese-American by upbringing, a rapper who hangs mostly with African-Americans and Latinos.

But HeeSun Lee — her first name is Korean while her last name is Chinese — sees herself first and foremost as a Christian.

It wasn’t always that way.

Adopted when she was four months old in 1983, HeeSun grew up in a loving family with all her needs met in New York. But when she became a teenager, the idea that her birth parents had “rejected” her sent her reeling. Was she Korean? Why did her biological parents not want her?

heesun lee rap artist“When I got into high school, I felt so different. That was the beginning of my journey of not knowing who I was,” she says in a YouTube video.

Her identity crisis sparked a downward spiral because she couldn’t speak Korean and didn’t even know what kimchee was; her new Korean friends commented in their native language about her and she felt awkward, rejected.

She was drawn to the hip hop culture of Tupac at the time and learned to party, take drugs and sleep around, according to her lyrics and an interview.

“I remember there was a point in my life when I was just completely lost. I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t know who I was,” she says on a Jahrockn video of her “I’m Supposed to Be” song.

Heesun-lee adopted Mom

HeeSun (she was called Cynthia at the time) with her adoptive mother

At about the same time, she got introduced to Christianity when her grandmother, to whom she was very close, declined in health. A friend invited her to church.

“Once my grandma became sick I thought I’d find comfort in going,” she says. “It completely changed my life. I found God — I found my purpose.”

But her journey toward God wasn’t all smooth sailing. She stumbled.

“Through it all though, God was always with me,” she says. “He was just distant. But He kept me. He reminded me He was there for me. Finally I just realized, this is wrong. This is not where I’m supposed to be. So I just cried out to God.”

HeeSun Lee family

HeeSun with her family today

In college she could have gone either way — the world beckoned but God was fighting for her. Ultimately, she chose Jesus, marriage, and a family.

She also chose rap.

“When I started rapping, I wanted to rap about my own experiences, what I go through,” HeeSun says on a Korean American Story video. “I couldn’t picture myself rapping half naked and talking about sex. I mean, I partied and stuff, but that just wasn’t me. That wasn’t my character. At that time I was in and out of church. I believed in God. He was always helping me in some way. I was struggling. My songs are about my experience” coming to God.

That is how HeeSun became the Christian hip-hop artist who, perhaps, gets the most double takes.

Female Christian rappers are few and far between. So are Asian rappers, not to mention Christian Asians rappers. She’s even rapped while pregnant.

HeeSun married a New York police officer, and the couple have two girls.

Her first album in 2008 was Re:Defined on the Jahrock’n label. She found the definition of her identity in Christ, she says.

“I used to think I was unfortunate, unfortunate to live a life that could never tell me the origins of my story,” she raps in one song. “Most people know how they were born. Unfortunately, I was never given those details on my adoptions papers… I don’t know if I was a mistake” Read the rest: Christian female Korean rapper.

Frank Sontag, LA rock legend, goes from New Age guru to born-again Christian

It wasn’t the car that slammed into his motorcycle at 100 mph. It was a round of golf that brought L.A. rock legend Frank Sontag to Christ.

After he was sent spinning across the highway, Sontag holed himself up in a Tahoe cabin and lived primitively off rudimentary supplies while he poured over Eastern mystic texts in search of the meaning of life. It took years to physically recover from the accident. But he emerged a New Age guru.

“I read the Koran, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita,” he said in an interview with Greg Laurie. “I never would open a Bible.”

For two decades, Sontag interviewed the “royalty of rock” on classic rock station KLOS. He broadcast music and announced sports events. He was part of #1-rated Mark & Brian show, which would mix Aerosmith with humorist rants and raucous call-ins.

On his own highly-rated, thought-provoking program called Impact, Sontag peddled a self-styled “spirituality” that encouraged people to get in touch with their inner selves, discover their purpose in the universe and feel good about themselves. No repentance needed.

“When somebody would call up and try to share the gospel, I couldn’t hang up on them fast enough,” he said. He would shout down and shut down Christians.
Once #1 in LA, Mark and Brian.

Then one of his closest New Age buds got saved. Three years later, the friend and his pastor brother invited Sontag to golf. Sontag was taking his fairway shot when the pastor fired at him: “Frank, is Jesus Christ the Son of God?”

“We’re not going there,” Frank retorted and knocked the ball towards the green.

A few holes later, Sontag was putting when the pastor asked another pointed question: “Frank, who’s God?”

Miffed, Sontag brushed the question off with, “I’m spiritual.”

After nine holes, the threesome decided to have lunch, and that pastor swung a final shot: “If you were to die today, would you be with God?”

Sontag snorted in disgust.

But something inside told him he should consider the question more. Challenged by the pastor, he sat in his car afterwards and asked God to prove Himself. Immediately, he felt strangely hot.

Then a voice said: “Are you ready to submit to Me?”

“It was unmistakable. Call it ‘because He created me I knew His voice.’ I knew Who He was. I felt no coercion,” he said. “And I freely said, ‘yes.’”

Later the voice said: “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

Sontag had never read the Bible. He didn’t have any way to recognize Scripture.

It wasn’t until nine months later that he stumbled across the same phrase – this time in the Bible. Right there, he prostrated himself before God and prayed: “Lord, I’m yours forever.” It was 2009.

Vanity, Prince girl friend, tried to escape pain through fame, drugs and sex

vanity“Kill Vanity.”

Vanity lay agonizing in a hospital bed in 1994 with only three days left to live. With her kidneys shutting down after a crack cocaine overdose, Prince’s ex was at the end of her musical career and wild living when Jesus showed up in a vision and told her that if she “killed” her lingerie-donning stage persona and become a Christian, she would live.

“My blood pressure was 250 over 190. I lost both kidneys,” Vanity told Jet. “I had internal bleeding with blood clots on the brain. I was completely blind and deaf. I had a heart attack and a stroke.”

prince-vanity-rolling-stone-coverSo Vanity died, and Denise Matthews lived. Denise performed a radical 180 degree turnaround in her life going from church to church relentlessly to share her testimony. She pushed Jesus even harder than she had pushed the free sex image cultivated by the “Purple Rain” megastar. “When I came to the Lord Jesus Christ, I threw out about 1,000 tapes of mine — interview, every tape, every video,” she said. “Everything.”

A year ago on Feb. 15, Denise went to her eternal reward after two decades of kingdom service.

Denise was born on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Her mother abandoned the household, and her dad was abusive. Because of the hurts in her childhood, she hurtled into a hedonistic lifestyle that offered only temporary relief from the internal pain.

vanity-singer-death

She immigrated to America to pursue a career in modeling and music in New York, where she hooked up with “Superfreak” funk legend Rick James, according to the Daily Beast. In 1980, she met Prince at the American Music Awards, and joined his entourage. Prince re-christened her as “Vanity” and set her up as the start in the sultry girl group Vanity 6 which burst on the music scene with “Nasty Girl.” Prince pushed her flaunt sexuality, she said.

“Prince created the whole Vanity 6 image. It bothered me at the time. I lied and said it was the image I wanted. I did it because he told me I had to do it,” she told Jet. “If I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t get paid. I got into it. I wanted the old Diana Ross image.”

But behind the headlong rush into sin there was a little girl still hurting from the abuse of a father and neglect of a mother.

“I always put on a show. I’m a mighty fine actress when it comes to that. I would wear a smile on the outside and come back and cry inside,” Denise said. “I would truly hate what I was doing but I was all caught up in it. It’s like someone caught up in a lie who wants to tell the truth. You put this big façade up and you don’t want to give anyone the idea that you’re weak. I finally let it go and gave it to God. I said, ‘I am nobody. I need somebody. Please help me.’”

Along with the promiscuity came drugs. Denise became highly addicted to smoking crack cocaine. When she parted ways with Prince and Vanity 6, she signed for Motown Records as a solo artist and released two underperforming albums Wild Animal and Skin on Skin. She tried to jump-start and acting career with roles in the movies “The Last Dragon,” “Never Too Young to Die,” “Action Jackson” and “52 Pick-Up.”

Then Denise met and got engaged in 1987 to Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx, who was also addicted to drugs. The couple abused entire nights and enabled each other’s habit. Sixx overdosed and nearly died the year he got engaged. “I can’t believe I did freebase with Vanity all night,” Sixx wrote in his drug memoir The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star. “I threw her out at about 8 a.m. She was getting crazy.”

Then in 1994, Denise had her own brush with death and met Jesus.

“It was drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, that whole sexual thing. Vanity was praying to die because she was lost and hurting inside. God said you have to go through darkness until you find His light,” she said. “Torture was going on in my life and led me to the Lord. For 33 years, I was walking dead. I masked myself in clothes, makeup, anything.”

The fame and the “fun” were all futile attempts to cope with the lack of love in her life. On the outside she exuded delight in the reckless abandon, but on the inside she suffered from the pangs of conscience for the evil she was committing.

“I was extremely wild. I found out that if you are not walking with God, the Devil will possess you. I prayed that God would take me because I was afraid of what would happen to my body,” Denise said. “Demons were coming into my bed and sleeping in my bed. Those things will happen if you’re carrying on like I did. I have a strong love for Jesus Christ. He delivered me from anguish, death and sin. I get excited by God. No man shall enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

So that is how Denise changed her deathbed to a birthing bed. Jesus appeared to her in a vision and offered her life if she would let “Vanity” die. Denise was so thorough with her transformation that she even refused the royalties coming from her entertainment career. She assumed her given name. Finish the article.

In Finland, the Rock rocks

Haka Kekalainen

In Finland, where heavy metal is mainstream, a movement melding the lyrics of traditional hymns with the snarl of hard rocking ‘Metal Mass’ is drawing sinners through churches’ doors.

In 2006, Haka Kekalainen, a pastor with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, decided with four other heavy metal aficionados to do the unthinkable: wedding their passion for rock with their love for the Rock.

“We didn’t change the lyrics of the hymns,” says Kekäläinen, a 50-year-old with a ponytail who drops his leather clothes for priestly garb on Sundays. “We only changed the musical arrangements to fit the rhythms of metal music. The hymns contain some very cruel words. It fits with metal music.”

The first “mass” where metal hymns were played was packed by 1,300 in the Temppeliaukio Church of Helsinki, Kekalainen, according to the website This is Finland. More than 100 similar Metal Masses have been offered throughout Finland since then, and all 8,000 copies of the subsequent album Metallimessu were snapped up. The recording hit #12 on Finnish billboard charts and stayed in the top 40 for three weeks.

Metallimessu

“It was really good,” Akseli Inkinen, a 17-year-old with long, messy hair, told The Washington Times. The pews get packed with teens who pump the air with fists while the lead singers mosh around the stage.

Mika Mäkinen, a 30-something man with his blond hair in a ponytail, eschews normal church services. But since his first Metal Mass, he’s become a regular to the services, the rock and hearing the Word of God. “This is my ninth time,” he told This is Finland. Read the rest

Editor’s note: My student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica wrote this article as an assignment.

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