Why? Because It's Christmas Album Cover
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'90s "Mickey Mouse Club" Members Reunite For Holiday Album, 'Why? Because It's Christmas'
Disney Channel's "The All-New Mickey Mouse Club," which ran from 1989-1996, is forever cemented in pop culture psyche as the kid's variety show that launched the careers of Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and Ryan Gosling. Yet they weren't the only talented, charismatic young people in the show's cast to continue on to careers in film and music.
Always In The Club, a group composed of former cast members from "The All-New Mickey Mouse Club" across the years, brings together the show's alumni to keep spreading joy and to fundraise for important causes. On Why? Because It's Christmas, more than a dozen former Mouseketeers reunited virtually to create a 17-track holiday album, released Nov. 27, that delivers cheer and financial support to those directly impacted by COVID-19. Proceeds from the album will be donated to MusiCares, the Brave Of Heart Fund and Cast Member Pantry.
GRAMMY.com checked in with singer/songwriter/producer and "Mickey Mouse Club" alum Tony Lucca, a performer and co-producer on the album, who spoke about Why? Because It's Christmas, his time on the iconic show and the vital connection between art and service.
What sparked the idea for the Why? Because It's Christmas benefit album? What does it mean to you to be able to give back to those impacted by COVID-19?
It stemmed from the fun and excitement we, the cast of the "Mouse Club," shared during our MMC30 reunion in Orlando last year. Our castmate, Tasha Danner, had casually suggested we do a cast holiday record together, and the wheels got turning instantly. Fortunately, it was Dale Godboldo, along with Chasen Hampton and Always In The Club president, Lisa Cannata, who were doing the turning.
Always In The Club is an organization that serves as a philanthropic conduit for various charitable organizations year-round, pandemic or not. Having them as the driving engine of this collaboration provided for a very clear intention for us to get behind creatively. As for the three organizations that we chose to [donate to], I simply can't imagine any other causes that could possibly be more near and dear to our hearts as a team: those within the music industry, those on the frontline of this horrendous pandemic and our fellow Disney cast members.
"I've always maintained the belief that empathy lies at the heart of creativity."
What does the connection between art and service look like to you?
I've always maintained the belief that empathy lies at the heart of creativity. It's why so many artists, musicians, songwriters, actors, painters and authors tend to ally themselves with noble causes throughout their careers. No one's ever obligated to serve or "give back" as they find success in their line of work, but it's no surprise to me that artists tend to be the ones that do.
What did it feel like to virtually reunite and collaborate with your fellow "Mickey Mouse Club" alumni on a Christmas album during a year that's felt very isolating and dividing?
From the very first Zoom conference we had, seeing each other "face-to-face," sharing in the enthusiasm this project was no doubt going to require, I can't tell you how much fun it was and a rather welcomed distraction! As a producer on the record, having a front-row seat to each and every performance, I would just sit there and radiate pride and appreciation for just how much talent exists amongst this group. It was great to see how much growth and maturity has taken place and wonderful to hear these endearing and familiar voices again. It truly was a pleasure.
What is your favorite song from the project? Who decided which Christmas classics to include?
Well, I think "Go Tell It On The Mountain" is one of the best group songs "The Mickey Mouse Club" has ever presented. It's just so much fun and came out so timelessly wonderful. I love that it starts off the record and really sets the tone.
Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't admit that I'm also really proud of "Auld Lang Syne." [Editor's Note: Lucca performs this song on the album.] I've always been a fan of that song and kind of always saw it as the holiday season "bonus track." I'm also a fan of "firsts" when I make records, and this recording marks the first time I ever recorded myself playing slide guitar. I thought the "Amazing Grace" melody laid real nicely over the "Auld Lang Syne" progression, and the slide seemed like the best way to do that.
What was the biggest thing you learned during your time in the "Mickey Mouse Club"? If you could give that younger version of yourself any advice, what would it be?
I learned the beauty and value [of] the art of collaboration, of taking pride in your role, your work, your contribution to the bigger picture. I learned how to show up and take chances. Looking back, I'd say I could've savored so much more of it at the time. Granted, we were kids, teenagers. It's not really in our nature to savor too much at that age. But yeah, I'd probably have quite a few more stand-out memories had I had realized how quickly and easily it can and will eventually all go away.
To learn more about MusiCares and how you can support music professionals in need, visit musicares.org.