Welcome to People and Places, providing an insight into some of the things Christians are doing within the Church, and how they are sharing Gospel values in society at large.
A woman pursuing her passion: Loretta Andrews by Dami Abajingin
Loretta Andrews has been in the music industry for well over a decade. During her time in the business, she has worn many hats: from performing in Christian bands, The Tribe and Shine; singing back-up for the legendary Diana Ross; touring alongside Take That with her own band, Sugarfoot (with twin Natasha and friend, Johann Ting), and hosting her own show ‘Unsigned’ on Premier Gospel. It is safe to say that she has truly done it all.
She told Keep The Faith that, while being a singer was what she has always wanted to do, she didn’t always see it as attainable. “I didn’t think it was a realistic career option, until I became a Christian and understood that God wants us to have the desires of our hearts, and that our gifting and passion are an indication of what we’re called to.”
Loretta has surely fulfilled the call on her life, but it has not been without its challenges. “There is the uncertainty of whether you will earn enough money to pay your bills, and the balance of putting enough time and effort into your music versus needing to earn a living. The industry has changed so much, record companies don’t offer the support to artists that they used to.”
The desire for change led Loretta to retrain, by studying for a degree in Professional and Creative Writing with Media Arts. It was while studying a radio module that she found her passion for the airwaves. “I just fell in love with it, and my mind was made up! I applied for a job at Premier Radio as an Assistant Producer for the Woman to Woman show, and worked my way to the Unsigned show.”
Unsigned is, without a doubt, one of the most innovative shows in Christian radio; Loretta’s own background in music inspired her to launch it. “I am passionate about equipping, encouraging and supporting unsigned artists, and basically giving them a platform to be heard. The Unsigned show is all about that.” She added, “I am so excited about a lot of the Christian unsigned artists coming through at the moment. The standard is so high now. Gone are the days of cringey, second-rate Christian music.”
What’s next for the mother-of-one? you ask. She will soon be presenting Premier Drive at Premier Radio, running more Unsigned – Live events again this year (the next is March 30th), and also writing her much-anticipated fourth book.
Premier Gospel Unsigned is broadcast every Saturday at 6pm.
A creator of meaningful social networks: Anthony Ogunbowale Thomas
Anthony Ogunbowale Thomas is the founder of GOODFRUIT, an up-and-coming network providing a community for people to create, connect and raise funding to bring their ideas and projects to fruition. “It’s about dreamers being able to create good fruit with the involvement and contribution of other dreamers.” The multifaceted platform provides support for projects in film, music, science, art, food, justice, publishing and literature, design and technology.
Anthony was motivated to set up GOODFRUIT after identifying a gap when he and those he worked with found it difficult to gain access to much needed resources. “There was no appreciation for the ‘purpose’ aspect of a business or a project, like a book or performance, which meant you either had to numb it down to fit the bill, or graft to get resources.”
Revolutionary in nature, the focus on ‘purpose’ as opposed to ‘product’ is what sets GOODFRUIT apart – as does the fact that the network knows no geographical limitation. “Technologically, we are enabling people to raise both funding and source skills from others in an international community.” He explains further, “A talented writer, working on her first book, can raise £5k as well as find an editor and cover designer in another country – all in one campaign. This opens up a lot of possibilities.” There is already interest buzzing in the United States and even Tel Aviv, Israel.
The self-professed ‘cultural experimenter’, who cites CS Lewis, Isaac Newton and Steve Jobs as his inspirations, is aiming to transform the connection between industries. He told Keep The Faith: “I’m really interested in the intersection between technology, culture and business, and how it can impact people’s lives, communicate messages, add cultural and social value and disrupt markets.”
The Kingston graduate describes his faith in Jesus as the anchor which has aided his journey thus far. “It is the source of the inspiration of GOODFRUIT, we want to see good fruit in culture; while there are theological depths to this, we use this as inspiration for the type of projects we hope GOODFRUIT will provide a home to.”
With a profile on Virgin Media Pioneers, and a Future Leaders nomination in the ‘100 of the UK’s Most Outstanding New Black Graduates’ (Future Leaders is published in partnership with Barclays Capital), Anthony is surely on the trajectory for global success.
GOODFRUIT was officially launched on March 10th. If you have a dream or idea you need to unleash, get in touch with Anthony and fellow dreamers at www,goodfruit.co; follow on Twitter: @g00dfruit; Instagram: goodfruit.co.
The woman with entrepreneurial talents: Shauna Muamba
It’s been two years since Shauna Muamba entered the public consciousness, after she tweeted ‘Pray 4 Muamba’ after her husband, Fabrice, ‘died’ for 72 minutes after collapsing whilst playing football for Bolton Wanderers. Shauna’s tweet encouraged the sporting fraternity – and the whole of the UK – to pray for Fabrice’s healing. He’s still alive today!
A lot has happened for Shauna since that momentous time. Last year, she was the recipient of the Keep The Faith Woman of the Year award at the annual Wise Women Awards, and gave birth to her second son. 2014 seems set to be another great year for her, with the imminent launch of Mrs Muamba’s Premium Caribbean Sauces.
Shauna used to run a Caribbean food business in the North West, catering predominantly for professional footballers but, with her increasingly busy lifestyle, wanted an easier way for people to experience authentic Caribbean food. Her new range of sauces is the result. She explained, “As a mother and a wife, I wanted a less hectic work/church/life balance, so the natural evolution of the business was to create a range of sauces so that people could make their own food as opposed to me making it for them.”
Mrs Muamba’s sauces are not just a business venture for Shauna; it doubles up as a charitable endeavour, as she has teamed up with the Arrhythmia Alliance (A-A) to support their Hearts & Goals campaign, which raises awareness of sudden cardiac arrest. Her husband, Fabrice, is the charity’s patron and, in support of his work and that of the charity, Shauna would like branded Mrs Muamba’s defibrillators to be placed everywhere the sauce is stocked. As a result, a small donation from each jar will go to the A-A to help fund this.
In taking this bold new step into starting a new business, Shauna has been directed and strengthened by her strong faith in God. “My faith has been instrumental in making this all happen. There have been times when I’ve doubted myself, and God actually sent me a personal message of reassurance and confirmed I’m travelling along the right path.”
A church sister got in touch with Shauna at a Bling Women’s Conference, held at her church Audacious, in Manchester, to relay a God-given message. Shauna recalled she was told that her venture would be a success. “Even though she barely knew me at the time, she felt compelled to tell. She said she couldn’t ignore God’s insistence to relay the message. She didn’t even know about my business venture, and she didn’t know that at that precise moment I was feeling doubt and fear due to high set-up costs and fear of failure.”
For more details, visit mrsmuambas.co.uk; like on Facebook at Mrs Muamba; follow on Twitter @mrsmuambas.