“Why? Because It’s Christmas” is a new Christmas album featuring cast members from all seven seasons of Disney’s popular “All-New Mickey Mouse Club” that ran from the late 1980s to the early 1990s.
The album features performances from Rhona Bennett (of En Vogue), Deedee Magno Hall (“Swingin’ With The Mouse,” Cartoon Network’s “Steven Universe,” “Miss Saigon,” “Wicked”), Tony Lucca (NBC’s “The Voice”), Nikki DeLoach (Hallmark Channel, MTV’s “Awkward”), Dale Godboldo (“The People vs. 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: TNG”).
As the holidays approach, the former “Mickey Mouse Club” cast members reminisced about their favorite Christmas memories, including a surprise trip to Walt Disney World, a collection of ornaments from their Mickey Mouse Club travels, and even a Christmas Day gender reveal. They also shared the special meanings behind the tracks they sing on the album.
“It was Christmas Eve in Oklahoma with our family gathered around the tree. I was six years old, and my Grandma handed me a card that year that simply read, ‘Have a wonderful time at Disney World…I love you, Grandma.’ I looked up and saw that the room was staring at me, reading this card. My Mom whispered, ‘we’re leaving first thing in the morning.’ I was SHOCKED, and sure enough, the next day, we were off landing in Orlando, Florida, just hours later.
My senses couldn’t take it in fast enough, the lights, the details, the music, the feel of hitting Main Street for the very first time. Riding the monorail, watching the Christmas parades to my very first character breakfast at Downtown Disney. That precious time with my Mom and Dad was one of the greatest ever. I was HOOKED, seed planted, but would have never imagined then that it would become a calling many years later when asked to be on ‘The Mickey Mouse Club…’
Not only have I gained best friends and incredible opportunities while filming with Disney, but I met my wife during one of the shows when we were just 14. We always kept in touch, and over 20 years later, I asked her to marry me right in front of Walt’s iconic statue in front of the castle. We were married at the Grand Floridian Wedding Pavilion and are now blessed with the most beautiful children, 2.5-year-old Hayes, and four-year-old Everly Love. Disney has become a tradition, a symbol of our family, and without that magic that was planted in me as a little boy that very first trip, I wouldn’t have the beautiful family I have today.
Thanks, Grandma, that Christmas present has blessed me with a lifetime of magic.
I chose ‘Away In A Manger,’ sometimes known as the ‘cradle song’ for my lil ones. As you can tell by the interlude prior to the song, my daughter Everly and I are talking about what Christmas is and means. She loves asking questions, and I cherish having those talks, instilling in them the importance of our traditions and holidays. As well, they both love to sing nursery rhymes before bed, so I hope very much daddy’s ‘Away In A Manger’ makes the nightly rotation.”
“One of my favorite Christmas memories was when I was ten years old, and I received the seven-foot-long GI Joe aircraft carrier. The idea of a toy being that large was just mind-blowing to me, and I probably begged my parents for it every day leading up to Christmas. We didn’t have a lot of money, and it wasn’t cheap, so I didn’t really think it would happen. But on Christmas morning, there was the box of my dreams. There were also hundreds of little parts to put together, and it really did look like a daunting task. My Dad told me we’d ‘make a project’ out of it and work on it bit by bit over the next few weeks… he then went to bed for a nap! For a ten-year-old boy, that was absolutely unacceptable, so by the time he woke up, I had put the whole thing together myself (poorly, I might add). My Dad had to buckle in and help me fix all of the crazy things I’d done to it because there was no way I was going to bed without getting some good playing time in. That whole experience of working hand in hand with my Dad to build that aircraft carrier is something I’ll never forget.
We knew we wanted to do a group song like we did on Mickey Mouse Club, and Tony had suggested he could produce ‘Go Tell It On The Mountain’ for us. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, and, given the incredible voices we have on the record, I knew what that song could be. I got really excited about that one. I think I mentioned to Tony that I could probably bring a little something to it, but it was really his vision to have me take a verse.”
Deedee Magno Hall
“16 years ago, a few months before Christmas 2004, I asked my doctor to write down the sex of my unborn child on a piece of paper. He scribbled something down, then quickly folded it and stuck it into an envelope I provided. When I got home, I put it in a box, wrapped it, and kept it safe until Christmas Eve when I gave it to my husband to open as a gift to us both…the moment we found out we were going to be parents of a baby boy!
When I think of Christmas, I think of family, food, twinkling lights, decorations, last-minute shopping, late-night gift wrapping, holiday music, and THE reason for the season, the birth of Jesus. That is why I chose to sing ‘Birthday of a King’ for our Mickey Mouse Club Christmas album. To be honest, I had never heard the song before, but the moment I did, I knew that I wanted to honor the King of all kings with this song.”
Jason “Blain” Carson
“For me, Christmas has always been about celebrating the people I love most and reflecting on the year that has passed. After I became a Christian over a decade ago, the season became even more meaningful to me. It represents a time when Christ humbled himself and came to this earth as an infant to one day bring salvation for all men – this is GOOD news!
When choosing a song for this project, I wanted to focus on this good news. 2020 has been such a tumultuous and trying year. In this season, I pray we can find rest, comfort, and joy in the hope that Christ makes available to each and every one of us.”
“Christmas is very important to me in terms of what it means. As a believer, I appreciate the true meaning of Christmas as we choose to mark this as the time of Jesus’ birth. It does not get lost on me as to what the season truly means. Additionally, it brings out such joy in most people, and we see humanity in a different light. It means time for friends and family. Hopefully, people learn to forgive, give, and receive grace from others while also spending time with those they care about the most.
This year will be the first year since I have been married that we don’t have to worry about Santa gifts as my crew has passed that age. It allowed us to set up a chance to go to Disney during the Christmas break. This is a major change for us, but also the elephant in the room of COVID. We probably will not do our normal visit down to my wife’s grandmother in West TN. We want to make sure all is well before we get our entire crew around her, as she is about 95 years old. I am also sure we will do quite a few Zooms, which is something we have never done before except with my sister and her family in the Northeast.
I chose the song I was a part of because that is what Carson told me we were doing, LOL. I like so many that it was hard to make a choice, so when Carson said we were doing ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,’ I fell in line and did not argue.”
“Putting up the Christmas tree is my favorite part of getting into the Christmas season. During my Mickey Mouse Club years, my mother and I brought home a Christmas ornament from each place I worked around the world. I decorate my tree with those same ornaments and reminisce about those special times every year.
I will never forget the first time I decorated the family Christmas tree after Mom passed. I had many more painful Christmases after that one until I was able to center myself back into the core of what I believe Christmas is all about…Jesus.
I chose ‘It Came Upon A Midnight Clear’ as my solo because it reminds me of the difficult steps it took to get to the manger of Christ. Pushing through the challenges of this world to draw nearer to the love of God is part of what strengthens the joy in my heart. (Joy is also my mother’s name!)”
“To me, Christmas is a feeling. A feeling that I try to carry with me all year. That feeling of unconditional love and joy and togetherness. It’s my mom’s warm embrace. It’s the smell of shoepeg corn casserole in the oven. It’s the congregation singing ‘Silent Night’ at the Christmas Eve church service. It’s all the coziest things. But mostly, it’s that distinct feeling of hope in the air, that something good is coming and all things are possible.
While we won’t be with our families this year, we still have our wonderful memories and the power of our imaginations to take us there in our hearts and minds. Though we’ll miss our people and our traditions, Lee and I are going to try to start some new traditions with our three-year-old son, Owen. Like maybe decorating with too many lights a bit too early in the season! We’re trying not to focus on all the things that are missing but rather on all that we have right here and right now.
I grew up in the Methodist church, so I love hymns. I love all the Christmas hymns, especially ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem.’ The picture that the first verse paints is just so gorgeous. It’s not a giant song vocally, but I love the quiet storytelling and the sense of hope it imparts.”
“Growing up, Christmas was always a magical time of both reminiscing and family bonding. Now that we have our own kids, that torch has been passed along to us to continue the wonderment of the holidays. Although our circus has grown, there’s still plenty of joy and surprises in store for our boys.
One of our fans suggested I have a go at the iconic holiday tradition, which is ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas’ for the record, and I had a blast bringing it to life!”
“I had a huge imagination as a kid. It’s crazy, but I remember wishing that Santa was real until the age of 10! One of my favorite memories was a Christmas Eve when my dad really went above and beyond to ‘keep the dream alive.’ My brothers and I were all in bed, waiting for Santa. Of course, we weren’t able to sleep because of the excitement. All of a sudden, we heard a loud thud. My dad actually told us it was Santa and his reindeer on the roof, and we’d better go to bed, or we wouldn’t get our presents. In the morning, our carefully placed cookies had a bite mark in one of them, and we found a card that was from Santa and his reindeer. It was signed and had little reindeer hoof prints on it. My sweet dad had written the card and used chocolate candy to make “footprints.” I can still see the prints on the card like it was yesterday! The magic of Christmas was alive and well in our home and helped fuel my love for the Christmas season.
I chose to sing ‘O Holy Night’ because I’ve always loved the melody. The message about Jesus, as the Savior of the world, is deep and truthfully powerful. If you really listen to the lyrics, you will see that there is so much hope in this song.”
“Christmas means a time to reflect on who you were at the start of the year and the person you became along the way. It means Christmas Eve church service where everyone gathers with the most open of hearts to honor those that are no longer, give gratitude for the ones who are still here and praise God for carrying you through it all. Christmas means slowing down and taking the time to enjoy all the small and extraordinary joys of laughter, good food, and great company. It reminds you of what it felt like to be a child and that imagination, delight, hope, and faith still exist. Christmas means being with the ones you love most… your family.
This year will look very different for many of us. It has been a brutal year. There is no doubt about that. However, I’ve learned that where there is the brutal, there is also the beautiful. If we can have the courage to stay open, we might be surprised by what unfolds this Christmas season. We might experience miracles. We might experience magic. Always allow the space for surprise and a Christmas miracle.”
Raquel “Roque” Herring
“Christmas to me is the special time of year that we all come together to celebrate, worship, and praise the birth of the risen King, Jesus, an opportunity for family and friends to all, take part in joyous communion.
I felt strongly about singing a song that means something to me personally. It seems as if Christmas has become commercialized and disconnected from why we celebrate during this time of year. ‘Angels From the Realms of Glory’ reminds us that Jesus Christ, the newborn King, is the reason for the season. It’s also an invitation of sorts to come together at such a time when our country is experiencing great pangs, overt hatred, and division, to cry out in worship.”
“If I were to talk about a Christmas memory, it’s probably what I just discussed with my mom the other day. It’s how my sister and I used to get up, and instead of unwrapping gifts, we would just come down to things already assembled. I remember being so excited about what we would see when I would turn the corner. A very vivid thought is seeing this huge dollhouse that my dad put together for me one Christmas and the Cabbage Patch Kids underneath the tree.
Christmas is a very special time for me. Hopefully, you’re able to pull some really special moments for yourself, and I hope that this album can be a part of Christmas for you this time and moving forward. I hope you enjoy it.
For my song, it was a choice between ‘O’ Come, All Ye Faithful’ and ‘The First Noel.’ Both songs have beautiful melodies and are staples in a Christmas repertoire. My Mouseketeer brother David had more of an affinity to ‘The First Noel’; therefore, ‘O’ Come All Ye Faithful’ became my classic to recreate. I am pleased with the choice.
I’m so very excited to be a part of this project. It’s like old times when we used to go into the studio back in the day and do these ensemble records, and it’s really fantastic to come back together with my brothers and sisters and make something so special.”
“Christmas is a time for hope, light, joy, and promise. No matter your religion, this time of year has traditions representing those things: the return of light during the solstice, Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanza, etc. It is a time for re-connecting to that light, hope, and promise, spending time with loved ones, and sharing love.
This year will be tough; many won’t be able to spend it with their friends or families due to COVID restrictions. They might have lost someone in the pandemic or have lost a job. In reflecting on loss and sorrow, the hope, light, and promise that Christmas represents is even more important. That’s why it is very special that the proceeds from this album are helping those in need.
The chorus of ‘Rejoice, Rejoice, Emanuel,’ against the juxtaposition of a minor key, represents what Christmas is to me. A ray of light and hope during the darkest time of year (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere!). The verses I chose are also about coming together, healing divides and peace, which we all crave in our current world.”
“Christmas was always like this great equalizer for the year that preceded it. If it had been a great year, then Christmas somehow seemed to emphasize that. If it was a more challenging year, kinda like the one we’re all itching to get past now, well, then Christmas wound up being more of a salve and a chance to reflect on the silver linings of all that transpired in the months prior. As a husband and now father, Christmas has become so much more than gifts and decorations. Fortunately, it has grown increasingly more and more about gratitude, a time of year to truly take stock in all that we have. Isn’t it amazing how that list grows increasingly with smaller and smaller things?
I chose ‘Auld Lang Syne’ because I feel it reflects a sense of togetherness rooted in shared history. It offers a sense of reflection and nostalgia that I personally let fuel my participation and contributions in helping make this incredible record. That and because I first learned and sang this classic while on the Mickey Mouse Club, portraying the character Jeff Chambers in the band High Density on Emerald Cove.”
“Why? Because It’s Christmas” is now available digitally and will be available physically on Nov. 27, 2020. Click here to purchase.
A Virtual Record Release Party will be streamed on Nov. 27, with a portion of the album’s proceeds benefiting MusiCares, The Brave of Heart Fund, and the Cast Member Pantry. Click here for more information.