INTERVIEW: The Artists (Comprised of Original Mouseketeers) Behind “Why? Because It’s Christmas” Speak

Why? Because It’s Christmas is a new Christmas album featuring cast members from all seven seasons of Disney’s ‘All New’ Mickey Mouse Club (late 80s – early 90s).  The album is now available digitally and will be available physically on November 27, 2020 (Black Friday) via Always In The Club/M12/Universal at: www.MMCHolidays.com. A Virtual Record Release Party will be streamed by M12.tv on the same day, with a portion of the album’s gross proceeds benefiting MusiCares®, The Brave of Heart Fund and the Cast Member Pantry. For downloadable album art click HERE. Watch the album trailer HERE.

The talented team of musicians involved in the album offer their personal holiday memories. Artists include Rhona Bennett (of En Vogue), Deedee Magno Hall (Swingin’ With The Mouse, Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe, Miss Saigon, Wcked), Tony Lucca (NBC’s The Voice), Nikki DeLoach (Hallmark Channel, MTV’s Awkward), Dale Godboldo (The People v OJ Simpson), Chasen Hampton (Hollywood Record’s The Party), Tasha Danner (Portlandia), David Kater (Miss Saigon, Gnome Alone), Lindsey Alley, Jason “Blain” Carson, Jennifer McGill, Mylin Brooks-Stoddard, Raquel “Roque” Herring, Nita Young, Jason Minor, TJ Fantini, and Marc Worden (Voice of Iron Man/Tony Stark, Star Trek: DS9). 

“What does reuniting for this album mean to you?”

Deedee: After all these years, I’m grateful to still be in touch with our MMC family. I love that, even in the middle of a pandemic, we were able to safely get together to create music!

Nikki D.: The Mickey Mouse Club is truly where it all began for me. I am so grateful and so fortunate that I was able to be a part of the legacy of this show. Everyday was an adventure and I was able to share it with people who became my family. There’s not a lot of us in this club. We were able to experience something so unique together. I think reuniting to create a Christmas album is a way for us to honor what this show meant to the people who watched it and what it meant to all of us. 

Tony: For me, being afforded the chance to work with some of my oldest, nearest and dearest friends again, let alone as a producer and as part of the executive production team, has seriously been one of the brightest highlights of my career. It was such a pleasure to hear both the familiarity of these voices as well as the growth and maturity that has occurred over all these years apart. We’ve all lived a lot of life since parting ways and I can hear it, vividly.

Chasen: I didn’t grow up with any brothers of sisters and was asked to be on the show at 13 yrs old. From the moment we met we bonded unlike any other project I’ve ever been on since. The casting directors were so dead on finding not only talented kids but kids that had beautiful spirits. Each family is so special to me and being with them is always a reminder of the gifts we have given each other just by being in each other’s lives … 

Dale: Our shared experience as Mouseketeers is truly unique, and the bond is deep. Coming together to create as brothers and sisters again is something really beyond words.  I think it’s made all the more special that we’re able to help some of the hardest hit during these difficult times by partnering with MusiCares, Cast Member Pantry and The Brave Of Heart Fund.

Raquel: Reuniting after 30 years has given us a chance to relive what is uniquely wonderful about sharing our time as Mouseketeers.  I am truly honored to have collaborated on a musical project with my Disney family.

Rhona: Reuniting for this album means love, nostalgia, and perseverance all rolled into one. It is such a treat to hear everyone’s voice again, and to hear these beautiful and unique takes on classic Christmas songs most of us grew up with. We have somehow managed to maintain a powerful bond between each other… so to take this bold creative step together is so special.

Jason C.: It has been such an honor and a pleasure getting to reunite with the cast over the last year at the different  reunions we’ve had. This album is the first time in a long time that we’ve been able to make something new together and offer it to the fans.

Nita: We were able to get together last year to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the show and the album was just the icing on the cake.  It has been such a long time since we were able to collaborate like this and it brought back old memories.

Tasha: Our MMC 30 reunion in Orlando in May 2019 reminded me how much I adore the talent, drive, and joy of these beautiful people I have known since I was 13 years old. Reuniting for this album was another opportunity to share a project with our fans, who have been so supportive and incredible since that MMC30 reunion. I knew it would be an amazing opportunity for us as artists, as well as for the fans to hear all of our voices on one album, singing some favorite classic Christmas songs. This is a very special project to me.

Jennifer: I look forward to every opportunity our Mouseke-family gets to reunite, but working together on an album again is such a unique delight. I love that our fans can experience our vocals all these years later, as wiser, more mature, more seasoned artists!

Lindsey: To be a part of a project like this with people whom I love…during a global pandemic, AND for a good cause gave me all the feels!  Joy, hope, and pride to name a few.  Creating this album together, yet apart, was an honor and a privilege.

Jason: I truly love anytime we can get together and work with each other.  For me, being able to sit in the studio again with Jason “Blain” Carson and sing/harmonize together is such an amazing feeling.  Additionally, for us to have the opportunity to help different charities while doing what we love to do is a major bonus.

Mylin: Reuniting on this album means connection, community…family. With all that 2020 has thrown at us, we need connection now more than ever. Somehow, someway, most of us from this show have remained in touch and stayed the best of friends. I’ve never been a part of any other show that has been so uniting, so supportive and loving of one another. I know that there are many of our fans that are thrilled that we have come together again after so many years to create this Christmas album and we hope that it brings so much joy to all who hear it in this difficult season.

Marc: Being able to reconnect with lifelong friends “wherever we may be” is always a treat but to be able to create together remotely on a record that blends our unique childhood holiday spirits and also has the potential to provide some relief to those in need was a real gift.

“What do you love about Christmas music?”

Nikki D.: I love Christmas music because of the nostalgia is creates. It stimulates the pleasure center of the brain as well as the heart. It conjures up memories of cooking in the kitchen with your grandmother or wrapping presents with your sister. It reminds you of Christmas Eve dinners full of laughs, full bellies, and lots and lots of hugs. Christmas music is a that feeling of cheering on your favorite sports team alongside a stadium full of fans. Everyone knows the lyrics and everyone is on the same team. It gives you permission to be a child again as you belt out the lyrics to “Here Comes Santa Claus.” People want to feel good. They want to feel cheer. And Christmas music delivers that and more. 

Deedee: I love how timeless Christmas music can be. Year after year, we still look forward to singing along to the holiday songs we know and love, and my hope is that the music & storytelling from “Why, Because It’s Christmas” will become lifelong favorites in homes all around the world. 

Tony: Very few genres of music can immediately instill such a fondness for family and togetherness as Christmas music. Personally, I’ve come to appreciate the sanctity of the holiday in telling the Christmas story through these particular songs.  Very few genres of music can immediately instill such a fondness for family and togetherness as Christmas music can. Personally, I’ve come to appreciate the sanctity of the holiday in telling the Christmas story through these particular songs, having worked so closely with them.

Chasen: Beyond the automatic feelings of family and celebration of the coming new year, when hearing the classics how can you not be taken back to the days when we were young and the world seemed easier. Listening and singing those popular songs while watching my kids tear into the presents, leaves ME feeling like a kid again.

Dale: The music is classic… timeless. And it’s ability to take you back in time or generally put you into the holiday spirit is incredible. I feel it’s probably one of the most powerful genres of music in its ability to put you in a mood.

Raquel: What I love about Christmas music is that it evokes strong feelings of happy times. Most of all, the Spirit of  Christmas music reminds us of why we celebrate during this time of year.

Rhona: Because the music was anchored in me at a time where I was experiencing a lot of joy in anticipation for December 25th, it holds some really fond memories for me. The songs have an ability to time travel me to a place of warmth with my loved ones.

Jason C.: Historically, I’m not a huge fan of Christmas music – mainly because it starts playing everywhere so early and we hear the same songs over and over again. But I do love the nostalgia that is tied to it and I think the cast did such a great job of bringing some new life to the Christmas songs of our childhood.

Nita: First of all, Christmas is my favorite holiday.  I feel a change coming over me as we get closer to the holiday and it seems that people are friendlier.  I so enjoy the time with family, the good food and singing music together.  I often reflect on growing up and spending the Christmas holiday at my grandparent’s house.  My uncle would play piano and my mom and her siblings, along with myself, would sing in three part harmony every Christmas song we knew.  It was better than any present I ever could have received.

Tasha: I have loved Christmas music since I was a kid, especially the traditional carols sung by choirs with beautiful melodies, harmonies, and even more so, the ones sung in a minor key. Christmas music, to me, represents joy, hope and light. It is both nostalgic and timely and tugs at the heart strings every time I hear it. O Come O Come Emanuel, O Holy Night, and The First Noel, among others, still give me the chills every time I hear them.

Jennifer: Honestly, I avoid the radio during the Christmas season. I like only a handful of Christmas albums and ours will be on repeat this year in my car!

Lindsey: Christmas music is a balm for challenging times.  If I have a rotten day, the very FIRST thing I do is pop on Nat King Cole singing “The Christmas Song.”  It’s an instant fix that immediately shifts a negative perspective.  Christmas songs are like a warm hug from your favorite person.  And I don’t save them for Christmas.  Any day of the year is a good time for Christmas tunes.

Jason: I feel Christmas music brings such joy for many people.  Especially this year it seems as though most people were just waiting for November 1st to hit to start their Christmas music early to hopefully cast away overall negative vibes for the year.  When Christmas music is played and listened to you cannot help but get just a little pep in your step.

Mylin: The thing I love the most about Christmas music is the familiarity and the nostalgia. When I hear Christmas classics, it automatically transports me back to joyous times. Our album, “Why? Because It’s Christmas,” is full of classics! We are hoping we can bring some joy to each person that hears this album.

Marc: It’s gotta be the memories the music envokes of the cheerfulness of the season. I still have the LPs my mum and dad would put on during the holidays and they really make me feel like a kid again.

“How was the recording process?”

Deedee: After choosing a song to sing, I pre-recorded an a cappella sample of “Birthday Of A King” in my closet at home. Then I collaborated with Tony Lucca and David Kater to come up with a musical track that best fit the feel of the song. Tony then created a beautiful Wurlitzer accompaniment (from HIS closet), and after a few weeks, some of us met up safely at a recording studio in Los Angeles to lay down the final vocals. It was fun to be in a studio again!!

Tony: The recording process was amazing. Let me just give a shout out to Dropbox and WeTransfer. Oh man! Making an album, from all four corners of the country, in the middle of a pandemic? Like nothing any of us have or will ever do again in our careers. I think half the cast wound up with engineering credit on this thing. We really did get after it and knock it out in an amazingly short amount of time, especially given the scope of the record and just how fantastic it turned out.

Chasen: Going in, ambitious. With Covid, having to record from home & getting all 17 of us on the same page with deadlines and tech obstacles seems like a challenge. But I guess it’s just in the blood, we feel like a family and an obligation to not just fluff out a CD to our fans. It’s always fun to watch these guys raise the bar. I’m so very proud of them and even more so for the continued efforts to make a difference as philanthropists.

Dale: Capturing 17 artists all over the country at the height of the pandemic and country-wide quarantines was a serious challenge. But I think all of our passions to make this project a reality drove us to get it done. And we really had a ball doing it.

Raquel: I would love to say the recording process was unique, but with today’s technology I must admit,  this is how music is made today.  However, recording in remote studios across the country and lending our voices and talents to assist each other in creating this awesome project was absolutely amazing!

Rhona: The recording process was fun and rewarding. I love to be creative in the studio; and what better opportunity to do that than with people I grew up with, who share my love and appreciation for the gift of music. We had a blast listening to everyone’s take on these classics. I was pleasantly surprised with how uniquely we approached everything. And, I would be remiss not to mention how proud I am of the Mouseketeers in our family, as well as our team, who spearheaded this venture. They have come together with one vision and a commitment to bring something so special to us all. I truly feel like this is a gift not only to our fans and to new listeners, but to us as a Mouseketeer family as well.

Jason C.: The recording process was so much fun for me. I enjoyed the challenge of picking a very familiar song and trying to put a unique spin on it. I am very lucky to be in Nashville with some other Mouseketeers and, because of that, a few of us were actually able to get in the same room and make this music together. 

Nita: Recording during COVID is different, but thank goodness for technology, which is how we were able to pull it off.  Being here in Maryland, I was by myself, but you would never know it by listening to the album.  The drummer from my band, Infusion, has a studio and I was able to record with him and then he sent the files over to the producers.  It was seamless, but we didn’t really know what each other had done until we heard the end process.  Without COVID, I am sure I would have been in Nashville with Tony recording our duet.

Tasha: The recording process was definitely different than I envisioned. I had hoped to be able to travel to Nashville or L.A. to record with everyone at a professional studio, with the confidence of a sound engineer in the booth, giving us feedback as we recorded. Instead, it was me and my husband with a mic, a Motu, and Reaper, literally with pantyhose as our homemade popper stopper over the mic, crossing our fingers our cats wouldn’t meow or our neighbors wouldn’t laugh too loudly while we were recording. Thanks to the brilliance of Jeff and the other producers, though, it ended up sounding great! I still hope to be able to record some stuff in a professional studio with my fellow ‘Teers one day, though. Preferably in a sound proof, cat free studio. 😉

Jennifer: I had the delight of working with my husband, producer Jeff Bohannon, on my song and it was super easy after he understood my vision for the song. I wanted a certain percussion and then he had the idea for the strings…it turned out beautifully! I also had the pleasure of being a fly on the wall for Jason Carson’s song production with my husband, which was a delightful party every session!

Lindsey: Pretty hilarious, actually.  I had never recorded anything from home before, so there was a lot of trial and error. I started recording in a refrigerator box in the basement, but my vocals were ultimately drowned out by a family of crickets.  I moved my set-up upstairs to a small closet, and everything seemed to be going well, until Jeff, one of our producers, asked to see my “studio” via FaceTime.  I gave him a quick tour and he confirmed that my sound was still off, as I had been singing into the BACK of the microphone.  Whoops.  We got there in the end, but it was definitely a process!  I’m actually so grateful to have gone through everything, as I now feel like I could record my own little album from the hall closet!  Sans crickets.

Jason M.: I was able to record with Jennifer McGill-Bohanon’s husband Jeff and it was amazing.  He made the process so simple and easy.  As I stated earlier, it was also an opportunity to be back in the studio with my ex band mate Carson to rekindle the magic we had together with Shiloh.  Also, to be able to do Christmas music in August wasn’t too shabby.

Mylin: The recording process was actually really easy! Being in California, we have the luxury of having studios available at the drop of a hat. We were however, right in the middle of the pandemic, so everyone had to wear a mask and couldn’t hug each other. That was the worst part about it…not being able to greet each other like we normally would. But it was great to be able to stick around a little bit to laugh and catch up with our lives.

Marc: Working with the cast spread across the country was a unique challenge that ultimately proved to be an unexpected reward during this time of distancing. Making a record so far apart has somehow managed to bring us all closer together!

Album now available for stream/download here: https://ffm.to/mmcholidays

PHYSICAL ALBUM AVAILABLE 11/27: www.MMCHolidays.com 

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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