Religion

Trailblazing

Prayze Factor Awards International bestows Trailblazer Award on gospel artist; award to be named in her honor going forward

Gospel artist Vanessa Clarke is the recipient of the 2021 Prayze Factor Awards International Trailblazer Award. The organization unanimously voted to bestow Clarke with the honor which is presented to an individual based outside of the United States who they say is “trailblazing and setting above and beyond standards in spite of extreme challenges and hardships caused by extenuating circumstances”.

The Prayze Factor Awards organization has also decided that in seasons to come, the award will be named in honor of the Bahamian – The Vanessa Clarke International Trailblazer Award.

From her home in Grand Bahama, the wheelchair-bound Clarke, who is also known as “Divine Lady”, in a video message, thanked Prayze Factor Awards founder and producer Apostle Dr. Teresa Jordan and the Prayze Factor Awards for bestowing the honor on her.

“I say thank you to the Prayze Factor Awards for recognizing my contribution to gospel music on an international stage. I’m truly grateful and deeply humbled by this honor.”

Clarke’s information was submitted to the award program for its 14th season by fellow Bahamian gospel artist, Orlando “Landlord” Miller, The International Music Association (T.I.M.A.) international advisor.

Clarke was recently released from hospital after suffering a brain aneurysm and subsequent stroke. She has been unable to walk since 2018 due to a degenerative neurological disorder.

In her acceptance speech, Clarke said when she first became ill and found out there was no cure, the thing that was most important to her became even more important – her ministry and the mandate she said God has for her life.

“I’ve been in music ministry for the past 30 years, and I’ve never been fueled by awards – but from I was a little girl, I’ve always loved the Lord.”

At the same token, she said never in her wildest dreams did she think the Lord would use her as a psalmist, songwriter, journalist, radio personality, and author.

“This is not my dream but it was the path He carved out for my life because He knew deep in my heart that I loved Him.”

Today, she cannot walk, her hands barely work, she needs a ventilator to breathe daily, but she said she has told God that whatever she has left, she gives to Him.

“My love never waned, and I’m going all the way with Jesus,” said Clarke.

Prior to the award show, Clarke had posted on social media, “When I was well, I honored the Lord through my music ministry – recording with many artists over the years, my Christian radio show on The Light 810 am and through my Christian books. When my health began to deteriorate, I never shortchanged my love for God and tarried on – recording new music with my ventilator close by – and writing my latest book with the only two fingers that still work. I became immobile and so my traveling for ministry came to a halt. It was too much on my body. The Holy Spirit encouraged me to make music videos.”

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Clarke, like everyone else with nowhere to go, said she was obedient and kept making videos as many churches continued to reach out to her to use her music for their virtual services.

“So, God allowed me to still be able to minister all over the place even though I was bedridden. So, I gave [God] even the parts of me that stopped working to be used for His glory. Thing is … you never know who is watching you.”

Her Prayze Factor Award is the end result.

“I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Prayze Factor Awards for making me the first recipient of the International Trailblazer Award – an award that will also hereafter bear my name. Only God can do something like that and to Him I give all the glory. I worked very hard in music even though I am on my sick bed and it is very humbling for me that the eyes of the world took stock and chose to bless me.”

During her speech, which she read from a prepared script, Clarke also thanked her “supportive husband Volare” and her “beautiful children V’ajha and V’lori” as well as her family and every one who has supported her over the years.

“Thank you for loving me then, and thank you for loving me now, while I’m in the biggest fight of my life. I love you and again I say thank you to the Prayze Factor Awards for recognizing my contribution to gospel music on an international stage. I’m truly grateful and deeply humbled by this honor,” said Clarke.

The Prayze Factor Awards serves to bring exposure to inspired artists. This year’s on-demand show was held September 16-19 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Clarke was the first winner of the Gospel Music Marlin Award for Outstanding Female Vocalist in 1996; she won three more awards over a decade. Along with Da Fam, she won the Cacique Award for Best Song of the Year in 2005.

Despite her health challenges, Clarke has gone on to produce new music, and released the singles “Going Through”, “Faith Walk” and her classic, “The Lord’s Prayer.”

Clarke’s medical challenges began in the midst of recording her first project “Like the Dew”. After the fall, which she initially thought nothing of, she lost muscle and strength in her legs. After months of doctor visits and tests, she was diagnosed with a neurological disorder. Her treatments and doctor visits are exorbitant.

Vanessa “Divine Lady” Clarke in January 2021, a picture she captioned “Begin this year with an attitude of getting rid of selfishness and put on the attitude of gratefulness. For it is far better to have thankfulness on your lips, than it is to be complaining. Give thanks with a grateful hear, you hear?” FACEBOOK

Her condition has deteriorated, and her recent challenges meant she had to be airlifted to New Providence where she spent a number of weeks in the intensive care unit. In an effort to assist with her medical bills and long-term critical care she needs, The Friends of Vanessa Clarke will host a virtual fundraising drive in October which will culminate in a virtual benefit concert under the theme “Plead My Cause V3: Going Through” on Sunday, October 31, between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. and streamed on Facebook and YouTube. It is expected to be an evening of praise, prayer and celebration for Clarke.

Donations can also be made to Vanessa Clarke Scotiabank Freeport Branch 80515 savings account number 4020600.

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