Colors brings musical hues to BYU


    By Natalie Roach

    Colors members Russell Dixon, Ryan Merrill and Brian Tibbets lit up the Wilkinson Student Center ballroom Saturday night, Jan. 26, as they performed for a sell-out crowd.

    With everything from sweet ballads to get-up-and-dance numbers to ”white-boy” rapping, Colors delighted and excited the audience members.

    “This was probably the fifth time that I”ve seen Colors perform and they sounded so good,” said Mindy Johnson, 23, a senior from Sacramento, Calif., majoring in psychology. “They are really a team up there. They”re just up there having fun, helping us to have fun.”

    A good friend of the band members, Melissa Spencer, agrees.

    “They”re just as real on stage as they are off-stage. What the audience sees is who they are,” Spencer said. “Their personalities come out while they are performing. They are truly being themselves.”

    Spencer, 25, graduated from Utah State University in liberal arts and sciences, and has been friends with Colors for the past six years.

    “We got to know each other during our freshman year of college and we became best friends. We”ve been close ever since,” Spencer said.

    Saturday”s performance was the first time Colors has ever performed a solo show at BYU.

    Jen Kusch, vice president of campus activities for BYUSA, saw Colors at a national conference in November and invited them to come to BYU.

    “I”m glad that we”ve been able to help them get here. We”re so excited to have them,” Kusch said. “They”ve been so easy to work with. The students have all been anxious to come and hear them.”

    The 1,650 tickets almost completely sold out during the presale, Kusch said.

    The three band members are seniors at Utah State University in Logan, all set to graduate in April.

    Each member of Colors has a unique personality that helps them to work well together and have fun while they perform.

    When asked to describe himself in one word, Ryan Merrill, the group”s percussionist, who always performs barefoot, said “laugh.”

    “I love to laugh,” Merrill said. “Sometimes I worry that I laugh too much.”

    Merrill said he thinks this might have something to do with his most embarrassing moments on stage, which happen when he says something that he thinks is funny, but no one else laughs.

    “Usually after that happens, Russ or Brian just says something like ”Okay then, let”s move on to the next song,”” Merrill said.

    Colors participate in a few different pre-show rituals before every performance, the most important being prayer, Merrill said.

    Russ Dixon, the sweet crooner and ”white-boy” rapper who plays acoustic guitar, agrees that prayer is essential.

    Dixon has spent many hours over the past few days listening to two CD”s. One is Alberto Plaza, the Chilean James Taylor, and the other is Colors” practice tape for the Olympics.

    “We”re playing for the Olympics, opening for the Foo Fighters and Macy Gray on Feb. 11 and 12,” Dixon said. “It”s a once in a lifetime experience. We”re so excited. We”ll be playing a lot of cover songs and a few of our own.”

    After the band members graduate in April, they plan to go on tour in the Western United States and Hawaii, with a scheduled stop at BYU-Hawaii, Dixon said.

    Brian Tibbets, who also plays acoustic guitar for the group, sometimes backwards and over his head, said that when the group gets back from touring, he would like to return to school and possibly get a degree in engineering.

    “I either want to be a seminary teacher or an engineer,” Tibbets said.

    Shelly Swasey, 21, a junior from Price, Utah, majoring in public relations at Utah State, got her ”dream job” when she was made production manager for Colors in May of 2001.

    Swasey keeps up with merchandise, purchasing, inventory and public relations for the group. She also maintains Colors” Web site,, and acts as an image consultant.

    Swasey gave a brief history of the group.

    Best friends since the fifth grade, Dixon and Tibbets met Merrill in high school and the three soon became inseparable. They wrote a few songs together and performed at school assemblies, Swasey said.

    As the boys of Colors neared the end of their high school careers, friends and family encouraged them to record their songs for a memento of their time together, if nothing else, Swasey said.

    As part of the recording agreement, they had to produce 500 copies of their CD.

    The group decided to go for it.

    They went into the studio and recorded “No Time in Particular,” their debut album. Colors ended up selling all 500 copies out of their backpacks to friends, family and people around Kaysville.

    Colors then left for their freshman year of college, during which time they recorded their second album, “Standing on the Sun.”

    The next summer they were the featured performers at several Especially For Youth conferences across the country.

    After that summer, the members of Colors all served missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and since returning home have recorded two more albums, “Falling In” and “Outside the Lines.”

    The members of Colors say their so-called fame hasn”t changed them.

    “Fame is in the eye of the beholder,” Merrill said. “When I”m up on that stage, I”m part of Colors; that”s who I am. But as soon as I step off the stage, no one knows me.”

    Tim Tibbets, 22, from Kaysville, Utah, said growing up with his older brother Brian in Colors hasn”t been anything out of the ordinary.

    “He”s just like any other brother. Brian taught me to play the guitar when I was fifteen,” Tim Tibbets said. “He goofs around all the time. The way you see him act on stage is how he acts in real life.”

    As for Colors” future, a summer tour and another album are in the works, Dixon said.

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