Prince Ivan Rocks
by tiffany Lyle
There are a hundreds of shows in Branson to watch and every one of them has a different theme and feel. Tourists come from all over the United States to see what Branson has to offer and when it comes to variety, Branson does not disappoint.
One particular show has been climbing the musical ladder, gaining more and more attention for their vintage, new disco music that makes visitors and locals want to hear more — Prince Ivan, a musical group composed of the Brett brothers, Garron and Brydon and their long-time friend, Aaron Ellsworth.
During a recent interview with the group, Brydon described what music meant to Prince Ivan. “Music to us, it’s inspiration. It’s in us, in our DNA.“
“The vision of a platform where you can change minds and hearts,” Brydon continued. Nothing is more powerful in music than changing minds and hearts. It sails right past the intellect and goes straight to the heart and it affects behaviors and culture. We feel like we can do a lot of good through it.”
Prince Ivan didn’t become the official group name until almost three years ago, but their story actually starts a little before then.
For the Brett brothers, performance and music was just part of the family business. They grew up in Dallas, where they were introduced to amateur musical performances. When Brydon was 13 and Garron 8, the Brett family moved to Branson and that’s when The Bretts Show first began.
Ellsworth has a different story.
Ellsworth was born in the Washington DC area before his family moved to Mesa, Arizona, during his high school years. It was in high school that Ellsworth was torn between two extracurricular activities: athletics and All-State choir.
“Singing wasn’t my main thing but I still did it,” Ellsworth said. “I was an All-State soloist so I was singing and taking it seriously but not until college did I really think it could be a career.”
“I started singing when I was about 7 years old,” Ellsworth added. “Initially, it was because people told me to do it but, as I got older, I started enjoying it.” Ellworth was attending Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista, Virginia when he first met Brydon Brett in an acapella group.
“I came out to visit the [Brett] family in June of 2009 and we just forged this friendship and bond between the three of us that has lasted,” Ellsworth said. Ellsworth and the Brett brothers have known each other for over six years now and one of the big similarities they shared from the beginning was their taste in music.
“For me, I was influenced by just a variety because we do a variety show here in Branson. Even when I was a kid, I listened to oldies,” Brydon recalled. “When I look at a career and someone who has done things to change the world, to me that’s Michael Jackson. He’s done incredible things. Stevie Wonder has done incredible things too, so those two I really look to and I say ‘Hey, you patterned some of the decisions we’ve made after what you have done!’”
“I can’t say that I look to any musician that I know of lifestyle wise for an example,” Brydon continued. “But there are a lot of great artists who have that real family lifestyle cause we’re more that way. We’re chill, which is probably why we like Branson.”
When it came to finding a name for themselves, Brydon said their group got a clear vision for an official name came about three years ago. “We had a different name we operated under for a while,” Brydon admitted. “ We’ve been Prince Ivan now for a year and a half essentially. Before that, we were something else but nobody needs to know what that was!”
“There are some things that make Prince Ivan different,” Brydon explained. “ If you just want to get to the core of it, I think we bring a message, we bring the music and we bring vision. There’s this congruency in the sound that happens and the feeling, it’s very un-tangible.” Brydon continued explaining the world of Prince Ivan saying that, throughout their performances, they want their audience to become immersed into an almost “spiritual” realm in which exterior feelings can be forgotten.
“We want people to enter into this universe and to not to necessarily have an overwhelming but all enveloping experience,” Brydon said. “The music is more colorful. In our minds, that’s kind of how we visualize the world but then the music just feels different. It’s cool though because people can interpret it the way they want to, they can feel what they want to feel and we don’t try to tell them what to feel without being so overt about ‘Hey, this is the world we’re entering into’. It’s pretty nebulous so they can go to whatever world within the world they want if that makes sense at all.”
Another unique factor to Prince Ivan is the group actually has three front men. The Brett brothers and Ellsworth are all different artists individually but when they’re joined together as one, something unique takes place. “Together, there’s a very interesting sound that comes out,” Brydon said. “There’s a cool chemistry.”
In order for others to witness this chemistry, Prince Ivan worked hard to get their name out. Over the summer, they performed at youth events throughout the Ozark area including Little Rock, Bentonville, Kansas City and Springfield. “[We did] Lots of regional stuff within four or five hours of Branson,” Ellsworth said.“ All were well received. “Initially, we were just performing, the three of us, with tracks that we had created in our basement and it just came out awesome.”
“That just goes to say that there is something in the spirit of it and in the positivity of it,” Ellsworth continued. “People can just see that we’re having a fun time so I think that just lets people let loose.” When Prince Ivan first switched to live shows, Brydon said the experience was daunting as the group wanted to find the right musicians.
“You wrote the music a certain way and you want it to be played that way,” Brydon said. “So, we wrote the music and the band that we put together was very providential and they just feel in love with the music as they said ‘This is the best music we’ve played.’” It was also difficult to make sure they captured the vision and that was biggest thing but I think they caught the vision right away for what we were trying to create. They’ve done a great job and they’ve gelled and done more polishing along the way. It was very cool because I always heard it a certain way and then to hear it that way was very cool.”
And when the lights come up on stage and it’s time to perform, Aaron said something special takes place. “I’ll catch Garron’s eye or I’ll catch Brydon’s eye and something really cool will just happen that, for some reason, when it happens it just feels so good to be performing music,” Ellsworth said.
Before every show, Prince Ivan makes sure to say a prayer between the three of them and then with the band. “It’s not for you but for God and when it’s for God, it’s for everyone,” Ellsworth said. “ What’s going through my mind is basically to perform to the best of my ability so that everybody is edified.”
Prince Ivan had their last concert of the season September 5th at Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater. For the future, Brydon said Prince Ivan will be taking steps to compete at a mainstream level and do tours, regular promotions, music videos and more content and recording releases. “ We always say that we want to go from my mom’s basement to Madison Square Garden!” Brydon declared.
Prince Ivan concluded the interview by thanking their fans, friends and families who made all of their summer events possible.
October 17, 2015