Envoy

Envoy is the trio James Marsden, Kary Burns, and Dan O'Very.

In the chaotic world of professional music, some groups, after a few years, just drift apart and go in different directions.

An up-and-coming, made-in-Utah group - Envoy - is the flipside of this situation. Just a few years after graduating from high school and serving missions for the LDS Church, the three talented young men drifted together.

The popular trio's members are Kary Burns, the oldest of the three and the one who initially got the group together; James Marsden, who is a prolific composer (without reading a note of music), and Danny O'Very (pronounced oh-VERY).

Burns and O'Very graduated two years apart from Brighton High School, where Burns (class of 1982) became aware of O'Very's musical ability when O'Very, then a freshman, auditioned for a talent show. Both O'Very and Marsden graduated in 1984 (Marsden from Kearns High School).

Envoy takes a refreshing approach to music in today's world of deafening, hard-rock sounds and controversial lyrics. Their material espouses wholesome, uplifting and positive Christian values.

Their sound goes back to the Lettermen and SunShade 'n' Rain style of tight, pleasing harmony, which is not too surprising when you consider that two members of the group - Burns and Marsden - were coached by Dan Whitley of SunShade 'n' Rain.

Marsden wrote one of SunShade's most requested songs - "Don't Say Goodbye," inspired by the death of Whitley's young son from cancer. This song, which has been recorded in slightly different tempos and versions by both SunShade 'n' Rain and Envoy, takes a hopeful, spiritual, upbeat approach to dying.

Marsden's first connection to Jelesnik goes back several years. When he was 15, Marsden had called the Jelesnik home to see about getting a group he was with at the time on the "Talent Showcase" program, then a regular part of the KSL-TV schedule.

Jelesnik's wife, Virginia, a talented pianist, answered - and proceeded to give Marsden a piano lesson over the phone.

Marsden's group, which then included a female singer and saxophone player, didn't make the cut. But the original Osmond Brothers didn't the first time around either, as Jelesnik recollects - and neither did young Rosanne Barr (who approached Jelesnik one day on a Salt Lake street and asked to perform on his show. He turned her down. Today he considers it one of his most astute decisions).

The name they chose for their trio - "Envoy" - was selected because it embodies what they feel is their purpose in performing music: to be messengers, ambassadors and representatives of a lifestyle that is positive and morally clean.

If you're looking for role models, any one of the guys could qualify.

Burns and his twin sister are the oldest of seven children. Growing up in the Cottonwood Heights area, he was student body president at Brighton High, where he sang in the a capella and madrigal choirs.

He served a mission for the LDS Church to Santiago, Chile. He married the former Tanya Pulsipher while pursuing a business degree at the University of Utah.

O'Very was well known in Utah long before Envoy became part of his life. Before graduating from Brighton High in 1984, the award-winning swimmer broke more than 40 individual state swimming records. He was a missionary for the LDS Church in Peoria and Nauvoo, Ill., and was captain of the University of Utah men's swimming team for 1989-90.

His strong, clear tenor voice got plenty of exposure in a trio comprised of his brothers, and he also composes. One of Envoy's most popular songs, "Lisa Marie," was written during O'Very's mission. He was married to the former Jennifer Archuleta, while studying telecommunications and film at the University of Utah.

Marsden is a native of Parowan whose family later moved to the Salt Lake Valley, where he excelled in sports and music at Kearns High School.

He's no novice in the recording studio. After graduating from high school, he wrote and coproduced his first solo album, "Missionary to Go" - leaving for the LDS Church's Columbus, Ohio, mission two days after the recording was released.


Envoy performs "Come Back Home" at a Thurl Bailey devotional.