A One Woman Mission...The Story Of Gospel Singer Juanita Fletcher By Susan Gaide What do you say to a woman who tells you she's on a mission? That's exactly the question I asked myself when, out of the blue, I received an e-mail from a gospel singer named Juanita Fletcher. As I dialed her phone number, I assumed that she was just another singer looking for a record deal. I was wrong and after spending just five minutes talking to her, the the sincerity sparkled through like a diamond in the rough. I had no choice but to become involved. Juanita's story begins in Chester, Pennsylvania, where, at the age of just five, she sang her first notes in a church ministered by her grandmother, the Reverend Melvina White. According to family and friends, Juanita's destiny was clear from the very first note she sang. But, at the age of eighteen, an unplanned pregnancy dashed her dreams of pursuing a singing career. 'I decided to stop singing and to concentrate on raising my daughter,' says Juanita. 'Later, I met the man that I would marry. We had another child, who required my time and attention.' Accepting the hand that had been dealt, Juanita settled into the the traditional family life. In 1997, she started her own Insurance agency. Juanita opened Available Insurance Agency in Portsmouth, VA with operating capital of only ten thousand dollars. Juanita now had what most only dream of - a supportive husband, beautiful children and a successful business that was started 'from scratch.' A real 'rags to riches' story, to say the least. Yet, Juanita was still unfulfilled. Juanita's mother knew exactly what was missing in her daughter's life. She knew that there was only one path to ultimate fulfillment for Juanita - singing. 'I had not sang in ten years not even around the house. But once I started singing again, I just couldn't get enough!' says Juanita. 'God helped me build a successful business,' says Juanita, 'and I didn't want Him to feel like I was turning my back on another gift, but I was there for just a season. 'I started to realize that I had taken the easy way out - I had used one excuse after the other to hide from my real fear - the fear of failure. All those years that I wasn't singing, it was because I was afraid that I couldn't compete with all the other really talented and successful singers out there. But, then I thought about how God built my insurance business from scratch. A lot of people thought I was crazy for even attempting to build a business in such a competitive industry as the insurance industry. But, through God I did it. And, I succeeded. So, I thought to myself, 'Why then, couldn't I trust God once again in another industry -the music industry?'' After five years of business and two years of learning the musical ins and outs; in a giant leap of faith, Juanita sold her business on July 1, 2002 and followed her 'call' from God. Juanita released her first full length CD, which she entitled 'I Surrender All' to mark the total surrender of her life to God. 'What I earn in the music industry is my sole personal income right now, which is scary,' says Juanita, 'but, I keep following the signs that God gives me. He's leading the way for me to be successful in my musical career. He's also leading the way for me to be successful with my ministry, which I call the Juanita Fletcher Vocal Ministries. With His grace and guidance, I've been able to partner with several non-profit organizations and have been able to secure the support of several radio stations to help me organize and carry out my fundraisers.' In November 2002, Juanita sponsored several events to raise money for organizations that seek to build community youth centers. She has also successfully collected food donations for disadvantaged families so that they may enjoy the holidays this year. She has more events planned in the weeks and months ahead. A diamond in the rough...a woman on a mission. What do you say to someone like that? I say, 'YOU GO GIRL!' And may God be with you, Juanita. TESTIMONIAL You recently sent me a copy of your debut CD 'Surrender.' This is a beautiful CD. Jesus is all over it. Myself and the listening audience of Glenburnie and Baltimore Maryland have been blessed by the annointing of 'Surrender.' We here at WJRO 1590 AM will continue to play your songs on the air medium to heavy. Our favorite selections are 'I Surrender All,' 'What shall I do,' 'This Joy,' and my personal favorite 'Sunrise.' god speed wjro radio 1590 am kim taylor,manager.