She is an incredibly gifted
singer / songwriter and her friends and fans know her as Shezza. Sherry
Ansloos, who hails from Winnipeg Manitoba in Canada, recently won the Outstanding
Aboriginal Artist of the Year Award at Canada’s version of the Peoples
Choice Awards for the Christian music industry. She was also nominated
in two additional categories as New Artist of the Year and Pop / Contemporary
Album of the Year.
Shezza considers herself
to have a special ministry to the First Nations People of Canada. In addition,
she is a special artist whose music has been able to transcend the cultural
melting pot of North America.
Prior to winning her Shai
Award in the Aboriginal category she spoke about how she felt affirmed
as a First Nations person through the nomination. “I have this First Nations
heritage that is beautiful and is rich and God has given me that,” yet
she felt disconnected from that culture because she grew up in an English
community with adopted parents. She says, “God has really been speaking
to me with the nomination in the aboriginal category it feels like an affirmation
for me. It is like God is saying to me, you are First Nations. It’s
just a very beautiful thing. It is like God is saying to me, ‘This
is who I created you to be.’” She is quick to point out that her adopted
parents did not have the resources available to them at the time to connect
her with her heritage.
Through an agency that contacted
her Shezza was introduced to her birth mother. At the time of the meeting
she encountered feelings and questions she had buried deep inside such
as, who am I? Am I First Nations? Am I Metis? She discovered in fact she
had a Cree First Nations heritage. “The only way I can describe it is that
it was like I had boarded up that issue. It was like I took the word
adoption and painted it all up to make it look okay. It really opened
up a huge emotional thing and I thought at the time God is doing this.
He wants to restore an identity to me.”
and husband Paul were teenage parents and life wasn’t always easy, however,
she speaks proudly of the fact, “We hung in there,” and warmly of husband
Paul and son Jeffrey now attending a Christian college.
She says the close relationship
enjoyed by their family has prompted others to question their own faith
or lack thereof. She says others will say, “If that is what a Christian
family is all about I want that (for myself). I want what you guys have.
I want to see a loving relationship between a husband and a wife. I want
to see that relationship between kids and their parents.”
Even the beginning of her
singing career was delayed several years due to financial restraints. She
was originally discovered at a talent search sponsored by a record label.
The story of Shezza and
her family living out their faith truly is one of Gods grace and relentless
pursuit of those within whom the seeds of faith had been sown years before.
When she was a child, Shezza’s grandmother would read devotionals to her
and pray for her day before she left for school, however, Shezza never
really acted on that knowledge. It wasn’t until she enrolled son
Jeffrey in a vacation Bible school at age six that she was once again confronted
with choices to make about her faith. She
thought he should go to
church but she didn’t have any interest in taking the same steps for herself.
She remembers while walking
him home from vacation Bible school Jeffrey said to her, “Mom I have something
important to tell you. Did you know that there is a little door in your
heart? Jesus stands at the door and knocks at the door and you can invite
him in. Today I invited Jesus into my heart.” She then remembered
being confronted with the same words at a vacation Bible school when she
was a child. Shezza says it was like the Holy Spirit was speaking to her
and saying, “Look what I have in store for your family. I have been pursuing
you all these years.”
The next week she accepted
an invitation from her brother to attend a church he attended in Winnipeg
(and her home church today), The Church of the Rock. She remembers looking
around her at the other people worshipping and praising God and she knew
it was time to turn her life over to Him. The next week Paul surrendered
his life to God.
For the once-teenage parents
of a baby who stuck it out and grew together in their faith it has been
quite a journey. It has been a journey of love between the three of them
and enjoying Gods love. Quietly she says, “It’s a reminder of Gods grace
in our lives.”
Shezza's music belongs to
the pop genre, however, saddling her with that label seems to diminish
the quality of her songwriting. While so many songs today are written
to appeal to a specific demographic and therefore are reliant more on hooks
than substance, Shezza’s lyrics are thought-provoking and the music beautifully
composed. Her husband Paul and son Jeffrey appear on her self titled CD.
Jeffrey provides vocals and Paul co-wrote the song “Captivated.”
To date, four of her songs
have been played on the radio, “Carry Me,” “I Will Exalt,” “In You” and
“I Will Fly.” She becomes animated when talking about hearing “Carry Me”
(her first release) played on the radio for the first time. The morning
host of CHVN, Terry Van Veen, called her on her cell phone while she was
driving to work. He told her that the song would be played on the radio
in two minutes. She quickly phoned Paul and her mother and let them know.
She says, “I felt like rolling down the window and saying (to other drivers)
put the radio on.” Laughing she adds, “But I didn’t. I had restraint.”
Shezza is an easy person
to like. She is personable, ministry oriented, sheds tears while discussing
sensitive issues and giggles at things she finds humorous. More importantly
she is always grateful. “God has given us so many dreams that we had in
Shezza's advice to people
is simple: “Follow the dreams that God has put in your heart. God has put
them there so don’t just wait and say one day it will happen. Be faithful
where you are. If you have a book to write, don’t say I am going to write
a book one day, start writing it and if you are a singer than sing.” She
also would tell you, “If you are gifted with working with the elderly,
youth or some other area of service within the church than exercise those
Joe Montague is an internationally
published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory
of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18.
All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.