Color of Mercy shines brightly in Branson
BRANSON – The color of mercy is red, the shed blood of Jesus Christ that has power to redeem a lost sinner from an eternity in Hell.
The Color of Mercy is also three Missouri Baptist ladies who sing with a style that is difficult to categorize. Seeing them sing for three days over Labor Day weekend as part of the Southern Gospel Picnic at Silver Dollar City, it is fair to call them a Southern Gospel group. But the blending of the voices of Tiffany Miller, Ronda Brandt and Kathy Besancenez is a bit more complicated than that.
“We don’t want to be put in a box,” Brandt said.
The women from First Baptist Church, Camdenton, are a little bit of several labels all put together. Call them inspirational, contemporary, praise and worship, country, patriotic and Scriptural. If a genre must be found, inspirational would work, they said. But because they have written several original songs in the three years that they have been together, they have the versatility at any time to emphasize any one of their many musical facets.
In Branson, a venue where the American flag is known for its prominence, Color of Mercy enjoyed dressing in red, white and blue as they performed their patriotic medley on the Gazebo Stage. The ladies are always on the lookout for those who have served America in the armed forces so they can honor them through their music. At Silver Dollar City, where God, family and country are cornerstone values, Color of Mercy seemed relaxed and dynamic. Branson’s heart seemed to be their heart.
Miller, a former working musician in Las Vegas who also used to perform in the Ozark Opry, told a story about how the group has been able to connect through their music with America’s veterans.
“We had one guy come up to us one night, he had overalls on and he was just really country, in a little bitty church, and he said, ‘I’ve been out of the Army for nigh on 50 years and no one’s ever thanked me for what I did till tonight,’” Miller said. “We just couldn’t believe that, that no one had ever said thank you to him, so that’s what we try to do when we do our patriotic medley everywhere we go.”
Miller recalled how she watched Brandt and Besancenez sing together as praise team members at First Camdenton, practicing as high harmony and low harmony, hoping for something blessed to happen. Miller wondered why the other two ladies would not invite her to join them in an audition.
“That was mainly because Ronda and I saw her as way up here, and we’re kind of down here,” Besancenez said.
Once the Lord made it clear that Miller’s lead vocals and keyboard playing were what He had in mind for Color of Mercy, the ladies knew that they were destined to minister out on the road.
“We constantly are made aware that we’re looking into the eyes of people that are dying and going to Hell,” Brandt said. “We don’t know who those ones are, and as Christians it’s our responsibility. It’s up to us.”
Brandt and Besancenez were raised Southern Baptist. They are graduates of Southwest Baptist University and have family members who have ministered faithfully in the denomination. Miller, on the other hand, was raised Pentecostal and calls herself “Bapti-costal.” The anointing on their ministry transcends denominational lines.
“If we find out that a church really prefers that we don’t wear slacks, then we don’t wear slacks,” Miller said. “If we find out that they prefer that we read out of the King James version (of the Bible), we read out of the King James version. We don’t try to put our stuff on them. We meet them where they are. We are all three Baptist girls, but we sing in just about all denominations.”
The Color of Mercy is really red on blonde. The ladies travel to their concerts in a vehicle they call “the blonde-mobile,” which is actually a mini-van. Brandt said the many details of arranging their concerts can sometimes overwhelm them, leaving them in need of mercy as they struggle at the last minute with this or that. Besancenez offered another explanation.
“We definitely have our blonde moments,” Besancenez said.
The women are bivocational in the sense that they all work in addition to singing with Color of Mercy. Miller is a real estate broker, Brandt is a reading teacher and Besancenez is an elementary teacher who has taught third grade for 29 years. All three are also wives and mothers who give maximum credit to their husbands for making their ministry happen.
At times they may run low on energy, but the Lord is faithful to give Color of Mercy what it needs at the proper time. On Sept. 2 at Silver Dollar City, on a day when 17,000 people were milling around the theme park, the ladies appeared to be singing quite powerfully in their final set.
“We could all be really tired, but when you get up there singing to Him, He just takes over,” Besancenez said..