Meet Chonda Pierce

A sharp wit and hilarious sense of humor are her trademarks, but itís the down-home, personal side of comedian Chonda Pierce that her fans appreciate most. In her books, videos, albums, and live appearances, she shares her own poignant stories of tragedy and adversity to encourage people to laugh at themselves while thinking seriously about their daily lives.

Chonda was a preacherís kid who literally grew up in church, and her regular seat thereósecond row, piano sideóinspired her first album, Live! From the Second Row, Piano Side!; her first book, Life on the Second Row, Piano Side!; even her Second Row Ministries, Inc. Though she has plenty of fond memories from her childhood, later years were filled with agonizing heartbreak.

"Just before I entered college, my only sisters passed away. The oldest in a car accident, the youngest had leukemia. Subsequently, my father left the church and my parents divorced. Iím sure there was a time when my humor was sarcastic and bitter. Because I had drifted farther and farther away from Christ, and was miserable. I let the circumstances of life control me, rather than resting in his care. I was working at Opryland, USA, impersonating Minnie Pearl and was newly married when I found peace through salvation.

"Iíd really rather not have a testimony like that. Iíd rather be able to talk and laugh with my sisters. But if that had to happen, Iím glad to see what God does when youíre willing to tell your story."

One thing God did was allow Chonda to share her pain and turn it into a lesson of laughter. To that end, the greatest influence on her career was Sarah Cannon, better known as Minnie Pearl. During her 5-year stint impersonating Miss Minnie, Chonda spent time with her mentor.

"To this day, I donít know what gave her the insight that she had into my life, to befriend me like she did. Those were difficult days...both of my sisters had died, my parents got divorced...and one day, backstage, she looked at me as if she knew." Miss Minnie told her, "Until you make peace with God, youíll never know what the love of laughter is all about." Chonda believes it was the Lord at work.

Since then, the heir apparent to the queen of clean comedy has performed on TNNís "Music City Tonight," "The 700 Club," Mark Lowryís Comic Belief Tour, and with Bill Gaither, Garth Brooks, and others. She also speaks at Billy Graham crusades and Women of Faith conferences, and founded Preacherís Kids International for those who grew up in the parsonage. "Some people laugh ítil they cry," Chonda quips. "I cried ítil I laughed." Now she uses her gift of humor to bless others in need of joy, and to convey the truth that time doesnít heal, God does.

When sheís not on the road performing, you can find Chonda, her husband, and their two children in the second row at World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

(Quotes were gathered from Myrrh Records Web site.)

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