Briahna Brett Perkins
My name is Briahna Brett Perkins and I’m addicted to life. It all began for me some 30+ years ago. On February 23rd in the year 1981, the world was graced with the petite but poised presence of a 5 pound 3 ounce baby girl. That was me. My first experience in front of the camera was picture perfect, or so they tell me – just minutes after entering the world my eyes were open wide, my lips were precisely pursed and my little hands were delicately placed. A star was born.
Yes, that sounds quite presumptuous and a bit braggadocios, but you’ll find in reading this that it says a lot about my personality, my focus and my goals. From my birth in St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri to my current life in Branson, Missouri, I’ve been wide-eyed, precisely pursed and delicately placed (with dashes of spunk, helpings of humility and chunks of hard work added along the way).
Growing up in the Brett home, I was surrounded by music. I have vivid memories that date back as far as my infancy in Independence, Missouri on Gudgell Road of my Mom teaching piano lessons and my parents singing duets together at home, at church and at family functions. We have numerous pictures of me happily “playing” the piano as a baby, and hogging the microphone as I sang “Your Cheatin’ Heart” and “Somewhere Out There”.
Shortly after I turned three, we moved to my hometown of McKinney, Texas where my real dreams began to take flight. My Mom lovingly taught me piano lessons at home (as well as home schooling us kids) and at the age of five I performed my first trio with my parents – “America the Beautiful”, if I remember correctly. Every year until I was ten I dressed up as a ballerina for Halloween, until my Mom finally caved in and enrolled me in dance classes at the age of 11. I simultaneously began taking Suzuki piano lessons in Richardson, Texas, and soon found myself completely in love with movement and music. (Note: That doesn’t mean I immediately fell in love with practice, but a little bribery – i.e. one hour of practice, everyday but Sunday for an entire year meant I could get my ears pierced… yahoo!?! Can’t believe I fell for that one… – and many hours of Mom sitting at my side – she was ever so patient – led me to sincerely enjoy and want to practice the piano each day.)
By the time I was 15 years old I was waking up at 4:00a.m., practicing the piano four to six hours a day, dancing four to six hours a day, taking a full load of college classes at the local Collin County Community College (AKA Quad C) and actively involving myself in our church youth organization. It soon got to be more than I could physically juggle, so to make a choice: was I going to focus my efforts more on piano or more on dance? (School wasn’t an option. It was a must.) After many hours of weighing out the pros and cons, and praying for Divine guidance, I chose to back off my intensity in the piano realm and direct my sights more on dance (all the while singing with my family at occasional weddings, restaurants, country clubs, company parties, family reunions and church gatherings).
At age 17, I was preparing to transfer to Brigham Young University’s Music Dance Theater program, when the door to Branson, Missouri swung open wide. We decided to walk through the door, not knowing where it would lead but seeing it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share our music on a professional level, and made arrangements for me to attend school part of the year and perform the rest. So, in 1999 we enjoyed a fun-filled, laid back and educational year performing on the Showboat Branson Belle. The staff and crew there made us feel right at home, and literally took care of all of our needs; from marketing to laundry to choreography to costuming, they did it all. We simply showed up, sang, ate and left. It was a posh year.
At the conclusion of our season on the Showboat, my family headed back to Texas and I went off to BYU. Mid-semester I got a call from my Dad presenting a proposal to me that he had been given… a morning show of our own in Branson, Missouri. Sounded enticing. So, once again, after many hours of weighing out the pros and cons, and praying for Divine guidance, we chose to accept the invitation and launch our own show on the Branson 76 Strip. I finished up my semester of school and joined my family just in time for our show to open, and the rest is history, as they say (whoever “they” is).
We quickly learned how royally we were treated on the Showboat, and just how much really went into putting on your own show in Branson, Missouri. We found ourselves working harder than ever before trying to keep up with the marketing, laundry, choreography, costuming, production, arranging, business management, etc., etc. Now, 12 seasons, a degree in Music Dance Theater (yes, I finished my schooling, only going one semester a year for 9 years), graduation from the “School of Hard Knocks” and some 3,000 shows later, I’m still working alongside my family harder than ever before to try and keep up with it all. But we’re really seeing the rewards that come from years of discipline, perseverance, sacrifice and passion. (And don’t forget prayer.)
I sincerely feel that from my first perfectly posed picture to my current perfectly played out life, I was meant to do what I do and be who I am. Yes, I’m a star, but not in the egotistical, celebrity kind of way. I was simply given the gift of music and a stage to share it on in a family and environment that is as picture perfect as anyone could hope for. And as for who I am… I’m Briahna Brett Perkins and I’m addicted to life. I love my family. I love music. I love the Lord. I passionately love my amazing husband, Merrill, who is my greatest supporter, fan, friend and companion. I didn’t know true happiness until I met him. Then our sons, Ivan and August, came along and that happiness was magnified to the gazillionth power, and I am now happier and more purpose-filled than I’ve ever been before. I sing to my sweet baby boys, and suddenly my picture truly is perfect.
FUN FACTS ABOUT BRIAHNA
Birthday: February 23
Artistic influences: Eva Cassidy, The Martins, Martina McBride…
Sounds like: Kristen Chenowith, Martina McBride
Favorite musical artists: The Kings’ Singers, The Martins, Earth, Wind & Fire, Eva Cassidy, Brian Lane Green, Josh Groban, Rascal Flatts, Michael Buble, The Blenders, Martina McBride
Favorite movies: Singin’ in the Rain, Pride & Prejudice, That Thing You Do, Elf, Father of the Bride, The Bourne series, Anne of Green Gables, George of the Jungle, etc., etc…
Favorite books: The Bible, The Book of Mormon, Pride & Prejudice, Joni, As a Man Thinketh, Oh, the Places You’ll Go
Who are some people who inspire you? My Grandmas, Zoe Christensen and Karlyn Brett, and my Mother.
Interests: Being a mom to my two perfect sons, cooking, baking, cleaning, writing playing word games, doing puzzles, working out, dancing, and playing the piano. I love arranging music, although I don’t get to do much of it, and I find the most joy from just spending time with my close friends and family. I like shoe shopping, too!
Other interesting things about you: I have double-jointed arms. I bake a mean cake. I have over a 100 pairs of shoes, most of which cost $10 or less. For years, my license plate read “QN BEE”, a nickname affectionately given to me by my surrogate grandpa, Lou Matteson. Now that I’m a busy mom it says “RWEL8” (Are we late?). I love the Food Network. I eat a lot. My sons are cuter than your sons. I win Take Two and Big Boggle. I have a serious sweet tooth. I’m a perfectionist. I was stung by a scorpion. I have an amazing husband.