“Once I’ve promised the Lord to do everything to complete His plan” – Andrey Vesnin

The History Of
“Hearts On Fire” Project

After a regular youth service at the Good News church (Riga) in 1998 Andrejs Vesnins, who at that time was a leader of this ministry and leaded praising there, had recognized that he had to to change his attitude toward service of God. He realized that it’s time to stop entertaining Christian youth in churches and take to the streets to preach the Gospel to nonbelievers through music.

Back then the songs “Wherever You Are, Wherever You Go“, “The One Who Was Yesterday” and many others appeared. That band was composed of several young people and Andrejs Vesnins (frontman and guitar). Later a passionate and daring Paul Renner (drums) and always a man of fashion Arnis Betiņš (keyboard), as well as a very modest guy Jevgeņijs Gaļickis (bass guitar) became the heart of the group.

Concert activities started with the opening of the popular music store “Rendoms” in the Old Riga. The performance was quite successful. There were lots of young people from the church, as well as other youngsters, who came to the opening of the store. The audience was impressed; they responded vividly to the action, applauded loudly and did not conceal their emotions. That was when the guys from the band realized that everything they did should praise God and lead to saving those unacquainted with Him.

Then the band was joined by three charming and lovely girl: Alla Ņikitina (saxophone, keyboard), who brought unique notes to the band’s music, as well as two backing vocalists – Aleksandra Lizlova and Ilze Stepāne. Visits to schools and nightclubs began…

The guys performed for school children and shaven-headed blokes who now and then tried to buy them beer or vodka. After a short while the band experienced a significant loss: Jevgeņijs Gaļickis (bass guitar) sustained hand injury and became unable to carry on his musical activities. The band was left without a bass guitarist, but the guys kept their heads up and moved on eagerly.

After several months a very special musician from Poland Pavel Struga (bass guitar) joined the band. He came to study at the Bible school of the “New Generation” church. During the very first rehearsal Andrejs suggested that Pavel played on of his songs “The White Sailboat”, which acquired a special sounding with a bass guitar.

Visits of the musical band to various churches went on, as well as constant performances at their church during Gospel Hits events.

Some evangelistic trip to Apatity on the Kola Peninsula comes to mind. The guys went there with their concert program. For many of them it was their first so distant journey. They went by bus first, and then changed for a train in St. Petersburg. As they say, “up hill and down dale”. 

This time the band performed at the youth conference. They caught the fire of awakening and were eager to share it with other people. They started to consider recording of their debut album and got moving towards it. However, as it often happens, things went wrong…

It was time for Pavel Struga to go back to his home town and the band was left without a bass guitarist again. However, the guys had managed to record a demo version of several songs for the future album. About the same time another guy joined the group. Aleksejs Ņikitins (solo guitar) had repented at one of the “Hearts On Fire” services.

In the spring of 2000 the band decided to go ahead with the album after all. The leader of praising of the “Morning Star” church (Jurmala) Viktors Isajevs has been offered to take the place of a bass guitarist. He blended easily into the team and became a good spiritual and professional support for the rest of the band.

Hours-long recording of the album began. It took place in the basement of the Baptist church “Mateja draudze”. The studio wasn’t big, but it appeared to be quite cosy. The manager and soundman Dāvids Lagzdiņš welcomed the guys and launched the recording of the album. The young musicians pushed on with the recording of their debut album and intended to make a good job of it; however, they lacked experience and skills. On top of that “Hearts on Fire” was about to lose another member – Paul Renner (drums). His parents – famous ministers Rick and Denise Renner – were going to move to Moscow to found a new church. By the time the guys had managed to record all bass and percussion parts. Paul Renner had to leave for Moscow without seeing the album ready. All guitar parts and piano parts for several songs had been ready by then. They were almost there, but the work had to be paused due to the lack of cash…

Andrejs Vesnins, being the project leader, was really frustrated. He started to work strenuously to raise money and to proceed with the recording. However, despite all his efforts, the odds were against him…

Due to certain considerations of the church leaders it was decided to suspend “Hearts on Fire” activities. Financial difficulties and the lack of understanding, as well as problems within “Hearts on Fire” had thrown Andrejs out of his ministry altogether. He switched all his attention to his work and studies…

Seven years passed. In 2007 Andrejs, being already the head of a small construction company, in a critical situation promised to follow the will of God, if He helped him. God did not hesitate to throw him a lifeline. He gave Andrejs an opportunity to not just address the impending bankruptcy, but even to gain profit and cover the losses of previous years. Andrejs found a fairy good basement, bought musical equipment, and started to build up a new band in order to make good of his promise to God. He called his friend Arnis Betiņš and offered him to play with “Hearts on Fire” again. Arnis was happy to agree…  

A new band consisted of young people from different churches: Sergejs Gribs (bass guitar), Igors Sidorišins (drums), and Eduards Rozenvalds (solo guitar). Rehearsals continued for several months twice a week. The band performed at the youth festival “It Is Time to Take a Stand-2006” of the “Word of Truth” parish and presented one of their ready songs – “Blood”. Performance at the Good News church event followed. The songs “The One Who Was Yesterday”, “I walk along a road”, and “Life-beaten” were presented there.

Unfortunately, the group members had their own plans for the future and soon everyone except for Arnis Betiņš (keyboards) left “Hearts on Fire”. It should be mentioned that at that time Andrejs got help from his long-standing friend Viktors Borisovs (technical support). He was a Master of Engineering and for the past years he had been working a professional equipment maintenance and field engineer; therefore, he came very helpful to Andrejs in his new and strange engagement.

By April 2007 Andrejs had a new band’s lineup ready. Brilliant musicians and creative people completed the team. Having accepted the goals and the vision of the project “Hearts on Fire”, they started rehearsing. Dmitrijs Karpovs (keyboards), who had been doing praising at the “River Church” (Aizkraukle), Jurijs Rižikovs (solo guitar), a wonderful guitarist, who could impress listeners with an outstanding sound and unusual set of notes; Vladimirs Šaloms (drive guitar), who furnished the band’s music with a special rhythmicity. Romans “SCREAM” Murašovs (bass guitar) provided unusual dynamics in the songs. Other musicians – Aleksandrs “SHULTC” Merzļikins (percussion), Valdis Indrišonoks (acoustic guitar), and the girls Ieva Kerēvica and Jūlija Matvejeva (backing vocals) joined the band later, during the album recording.

On 16 August 2007 the band with its ready program entered a terrific building of the sound studio “Sound division”. All instrumental parts had been recorded within two days. It is important to note that the recording was performed by a professional and quite well-known record producer Edijs Gņedovskis. He quickly set all the equipment and got down to recording. The work was carried on with at GEN studio belonging to Edijs Gņedovskis and several keyboards parts, as well as vocals and backing vocals had been recorded there.

At last, after three months of hard work, bringing the recorded music to a desired level, and thorough consideration of the album cover design the long-hoped for album “Stop Dreaming” saw the light of the day. It made genuinely happy not only the founder and producer of the band Andrejs Vesnins, but also everyone who had been involved in this project.

That same year, on 30 November, Andrejs appeared at one of the conferences in Tallinn, Estonia. The show was broadcasted live by Estonija Live TV. Next day, on 1 December, back at home, Andrejs presented the soundtracks of the songs “Stop Dreaming” and ”Desert” at the youth festival “It Is Time to Take a Stand-2007” of the “Word of Truth” church. Listeners highly appreciated the idea and sounding of the songs and considered them worth of replication.

Performances at churches, selling of albums followed. Long before that Andrejs has developed a desire to present the album “Stop dreaming!” properly and at a high level and to ensure that the material was video recorded and went on sale as a DVD product and became as available as possible.

So, in March 2008, the whole band got together in Andrejs’ studio to discuss the plan of future rehearsals. At this meeting Andrejs told them about his intention to put on the album presentation concert. Most convenient times of rehearsal have been chosen and the day of the concerts has been set at last. It had to happen on 31 May. Andrejs had to meet with musicians or singers two or three times a week. It should be noted that every musician and singer, who took part in this project, also had their own projects, ministries, jobs, studies, and families. Many of them gave a hundred and ten percent for the success of the project “Hearts on Fire”. Special thanks and acknowledgement to them for their efforts. 

As it often happens, one week before the concert the guys found out that Vladimirs Šaloms (drive guitar) had to go abroad for family reasons. Andrejs was really upset and started to look for an urgent replacement that had to be some guitarist, who would be able to learn all the parts. It was quite complicated at such a short notice, as all strong musicians had been already engaged in some performances or tours. At that moment some close acquaintance, Aleksandrs Kudrjavcevs (bass guitar), came to Viktors Borisovs’ mind. Having called him, Andrejs got an instant positive reply. Just prior to the concert the guys managed to rehearse several times and were absolutely ready for the show. As Andrejs wanted the concert to become unforgettable, he decided to engage also the Riga Gospel Choir. During the meeting with the manager of the choir Raili Orrava he offered her to appear personally with the song “The White Sailboat” and she gave her OK. But it was not enough for Andrejs and he also decided to attract professional dancers. He called his friend Vladimirs Belijs and asked him for an advice and assistance with this issue. After two days three of them were sitting at Double Coffee and discussing the conditions and the dance style for the song “Stop dreaming”. Olga Korsak-Zadvornova (choreographer/stage manager), as well as the manager of the dancing team “Dance Studio Axel” set to work.

Thus, everything seemed to be ready. Still Andrejs wondered: What is it that I haven’t thought over?” Stage lighting has been provided by PRO1 and Jevgēņijs Juhņēvičs (show designer) was responsible for that. The company Stage Systems Service, including Artūrs Cintiņš (Project manager) and Artis Rudens (sound engineer), took charge of the sound. Advertising went on constantly and the program was ready. They had only to pray and to trust results to God to ensure the event was successful and provided lots of good fruit.

“I love you Lord with all my heart, but the strongest ever was Your love for me – You’ve saved me…” /Andrey Vesnin/

Within the framework of the Christian Music Festival on 22 August 2009 at the Christian Centre “Good News” there took place presentation live concert of worship “I Love You Lord with All My Heart”. This was presented by the author Andrejs Vesnins together with a large team of the musical project “Hearts on Fire” Latvia.

Despite the annual City Festival that was underway at the same time in Riga when meetings and Evangelistic services were held at many churches, the hall of the Christian Centre “Good News” was full with people who arrived to listen to their favourite band. The heavens came down on that day over everybody present at the concert. Everyone got the answer they were looking for. The audience experienced joy and astonishment, inspiration, exhortation, and healing of soul wounds. The night of worship culminated with a joyful note – Andrejs Vesnins called for the audience to reconcile with God and reconciliation happened – more than 10 people gave their lives to Jesus Christ.

It was a surprise for many observers that every attendant could buy a “freshly made” demo live disk of worship “I Love You Lord with All My Heart”, which had been recorded in one day especially for the occasion.

The success was obvious. People were so impressed that they lined up to buy the album. Discs were reproduced and packaged in boxes before their eyes. All this confirmed that the audience really liked the program, which allowed nobody to stay indifferent.

The recording of the album “I Love You Lord with All My Heart” involved participation of admirers and anointed minstrels who proved their love for WORSHIP by own lives.

The producer of the project “Hearts on Fire” was Andrejs Vesnins. He also played acoustic guitar and was the lead singer. He was the author of all lyrics and music except for two musical pieces: “The Lord is My Hope” and “Worshiping”. The author of these songs was Andrej’s wife Tatjana Vesnina. 

This time the big team was joined by Oskars Sproģis (bass guitar), Antons Gella (drums), Vlads Aļeksejenko (keyboard-2), Julija Saveļjeva (solo guitar-2), Miguel Fernandez (folk instruments), Deniss Trans (violin). Terrific team of backing vocalists: Ilja Pečerkins, Marija Ļedjajeva, Tina Notte, Santa, Agnese Adase, Dacesita. 
Children’s quartet “Art-Mix Studio” Latvia: Nastja Cvetkova, Ļera Maslobojeva, Maija Šeršņeva, Maša Kočkina. The leader of the children’s quartet “Art-Mix Studio” Latvia:  Nadežda Buharova. 
Recording of instruments and vocals:  Artis Rudens. 
Mix and mastering: recording studio GEM sound producer Edijs Gņedovskis. 
PRO1 STAGE director-lighting technician: Jevgeņijs Juhņēvičs.
GaCo acoustics and sound: Gatis Kidals.
Video recording– studio “DFM”: Deniss Moškanovs.
Video editing: Aleksandrs Spiridonovs.
Editor of lyrics and “The Lay of David”: Darja Kuzņecova. 
Arrangement of backing vocal: a well-known singer from the first project “Stop dreaming!” Ieva Kerēvica. 
And many others, whose help ensured that we did such a good job.

We believe that our collaborative work was a success and it will inspire every listener to seeking new creative ways and discovering new opportunities in worshiping God. We also really hope that the concert was not in vain and even at this time it was kind of a miracle, which would heal many bleeding hearts and inspire them to even greater acts of bravery in the name of the goal and the dream that our Lord gave us all.