Originally created 08/15/98

For Sierra, three voices are better than one



Wendi Foy Green hit the road as a solo artist after graduating from Baylor University, but after two years all that glitzy independence faded to loneliness.

She wearied of meeting strangers at airports and going to church by herself. "It didn't seem like it was right for me," she said during a telephone interview from Los Angeles.

She teamed up with two other performers, Deborah Schnelle and Jennifer Hendrix, and their trio, By Design, was born 7[1/2] years ago.

Star Song records of Nashville liked them but not their name. With the help of a book of baby names, By Design was redubbed Sierra.

The trio will bring its adult-contemporary Christian sound to New Hope Church of God in Martinez for a concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Nikki Leonti, 16, of Corona, Calif. will appear with them.

Ms. Green grew up singing harmony with her two sisters in Coweta, Okla.

"I enjoy this style of music so much better. I never was the greatest soloist," said Ms. Green. She thinks that her strength is in blending and harmonizing with others, she said.

The singers live within 10 minutes of each other in Franklin, Tenn., outside Nashville. They hang together even when they aren't on the road, she said. "We are the best of friends."

All three are married, but because of touring they spend more time together than they do with their husbands.

Ms. Schnelle came from a family of three girls, as did Ms. Green. "We're used to sharing clothes and makeup," said Ms. Green. Ms. Hendrix "has grown accustomed to the sister-ways."

They also swap Scripture-study tapes when Sunday travel keeps them away from church. "If we weren't walking strongly with him, then we couldn't stand up there and tell others about Christ," she said. "That is the most important thing we do as a group."

Drawing on their life experiences, Ms. Green has written 20 of the songs on the group's three albums. Seven of those have risen to No. 1 on the inspirational chart, based on airplay on Christian radio stations. Pray for Me, a title from the group's third album, Story of Life, is No. 3 on the chart. "It just started, so we will have to see how it goes," said Ms. Green.

Most of the group's work is adult-contemporary, but it crosses over to inspirational and Christian hit radio, a more up-tempo style, she said.

"We try to be open and honest about what we write about, so people can see what God has taught us as we walk through life," said Ms. Green.

In concert

What: Sierra

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: New Hope Church of God, 715 Old Belair Road, Martinez

Cost: $5