By Brenda Meadows
People visiting Branson generally come to see the shows. Yes, they visit the attractions and the stores. So talent with sincerity, genuineness and faith draws a crowd.
On Saturday, May 2, some of Branson’s performers came together to share ‘Blessings From Branson’ with TV audiences through a partnership between sponsored by Gray Media (KY3, KSPR and The CW) the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). It was a partnership that produced ‘Blessings from Branson’’
“KY3 and Branson Chamber/CVB were discussing some of the ‘postcards from Branson’ musical posts on Facebook,” said Lynn Berry, director of communications, Branson CVB. “Management at KY3 asked if we would be interested in putting together a TV show featuring Branson entertainers from their home or a beautiful springtime place in the great outdoors.”
Branson CVB started reaching out to some of the stars that had posted videos online from the start of the pandemic.
They needed entertainers that had access to video/recording capabilities, since each performance would be on locations.
“It was during this time of social distancing,” Berry said. “And we needed a pretty quick turnaround. It took about three weeks to get all eight videos ready for broadcast.”
Each performer was invited and asked if they would do an inspirational song for the TV show.
Megan McCombs Mabe from the Branson’s Famous Baldknobbers was “thrilled to be a part of such a special program and honored to sing alongside some of Branson’s most talented entertainers.” she said. “We are proud of our God, proud of our country, proud of our families and ready to put that pride back on display every night under the Branson lights.”
When the CVB called the Petersens and explained that they were going to have a program called ‘Blessings from Branson,’ and Branson performers share hymns, Ellen Petersen Haygood thought it was an amazing idea, “and we couldn’t think of a better song than ‘Farther Along,’’ she said. “It talks about how believers oftentimes never truly understand why they face the hardships they do, but that someday in heaven we will.” Ellen referred to the COVID-19 epidemic to as a hardship America is facing.
“We are all facing uncharted waters right now and people are asking a lot of hard questions,” she said. “And it’s so comforting to know that even if we don’t know why this season had to happen, we serve a God that has it all in His hands and we can trust in that. So thankful to be in the Branson community.”
Sometimes, performer wants to sing a song that brings back a very personal memory. It is usually a song that is also special to the listener.
“I received an email from Rachel Wood from The Branson Chamber asking if I would do a song,” said Clay Cooper. “They told us to pick any gospel song that is public domain. I chose ‘In the Garden’ because it has always been my favorite of all time.”
Clay asked his son Colt and his wife Tina to sing the special song with him.
“My grandma played piano in the Baptist Church back in Wylie, Texas where I’m from, for a couple of decades,” Clay said. “I remember being at my grandma’s house on Sunday afternoon after Church and she would go to the piano in the living room and I’d always ask her to play that song for me.”
Songwriter Billy Yates surprised the public by singing a Ricky Skaggs tune ‘Let’s Keep Loving Jesus,’ accapella. No musical instrument other than his voice.
Andy, Ryan, Marty and Jason Hughes, ‘The Hughes Brothers,’ received an invitation to be on ‘Blessings From Branson.’
“They wanted us to do a hymn or uplifting song that didn’t have copyright issues with it so we decided to sing ‘How Great Thou Art.”’ said Marty Hughes. “They also wanted to see the beauty of the Ozarks, so we shot outside. My son Benjamin did the shooting. This was one of our own arrangements initially written and played by Randy Luna our keyboard player.”
Cassandre, who has been billed as having the ‘Voice of an Angel’ sang a very personal “The Old Rugged Cross.” A song that is always requested.
Vocalist Kari Garrison said she was honored to participate and to sing a song that is sung round the world.
“When they told me the title of the show was ‘Blessings from Branson’ my immediate response was YES,” she said. “I was also asked to sing the most recognizable gospel song of all time, ‘Amazing Grace. Music has proven to lift the soul and comfort your spirit. There’s no better time than now to share whatever it is we do in a way to positively affect others. I’m proud to call Branson my home.”
Longtime Branson Entertainer Jamie Hagge was invited to perform and decided, from among his many talents, to play his fiddle.
“Since I was playing the fiddle, I thought it might be interesting for folks to know it was the first song I learned on the fiddle,” he said. “And of course, the meaning of the song is entirely appropriate for the time we’re living. ‘What a friend we have in Jesus,’ Amen!”
A second Blessings From Branson is being planned, but there have been no dates scheduled as yet.