V*Enna was a pop/dance duo made up of Lucy Britten and Sharnessa Shelton. The group was formed by Mark Pennells and Zarc Porter, previously from the group World Wide Message Tribe.
Lucy grew up near Bristol, England, in an old vicarage, surrounded by siblings, foster kids, and pets that included sheep, chickens, fish, and a dog also called Lucy. Although she attended church and her grandfather was an archdeacon who traveled the world, living in places like Nairobi and Cyprus, her own faith grew gradually.
"I fell in with what my mum would call the wrong crowd at school. I was living for myself but not realizing it," she explained. But before returning for her second year of University, it all suddenly "clicked" and she was baptized. That year she also discovered her love for singing and there was no turning back. "It consumed me and I just thought, I don't want a regular job."
Across the Atlantic Ocean, Sharnessa Shelton was growing up in Longview, Washington, in what she described as a "a very Christian, but not strict, home." She added, "I was raised in a very cool environment by parents who gave me room to grow into who God wanted me to be, along with the freedom and discipline that was needed to get there."
While being homeschooled, Sharnessa nurtured her love of music and dance with tap, jazz, and lyrical technique lessons, as well as participating in choir and ensemble at the local private school. Then, at 16, she directed, choreographed, and produced her first show at her church. Another followed two years later. "It's a real passion for me, using the arts for God's glory. It's something I know will always be a part of my life," she said.
To further hone her skills, Sharnessa enrolled in the School of Creative Ministries in London, England. It was there that she met Mark Pennells, founder of World Wide Message Tribe and a producer and band consultant. It was Mark who first introduced the girls in London, and the rest was history.
Quickly becoming "really good mates" with a common purpose, they moved to Manchester, England and set to work choreographing dance numbers to complement the songs Mark and his longtime writing pal Zarc Porter composed especially for them. Within a matter of months, the catchy, "Britney meets ABBA" style of the early demos caught the attention of Essential Records' President Robert Beeson, and the group soon had a Stateside partner in their ministry.
V*Enna's first release came with their enhanced maxi-single All The Way To Heaven. The infectious title track was also the girls' first radio single and was a top-ten smash hit on the Christian Hit Radio charts.
Meanwhile, between concert and media appearances in both America and the UK, Lucy and Sharnessa were hard at work back in Manchester recording their debut full-length project Where I Wanna Be, also produced by Mark and Zarc. The album was released in September 2000.
V*Enna scored two more hit singles on Christian radio, "Where I Wanna Be" (No. 6) and "Do You Wanna Know?" (No. 15), before calling it quits in 2001 so Lucy and Sharnessa could pursue their callings individually.