Annie Moses Band: Chamber pop siblings taking in bluegrass to classical

Friday 17th October 2008

Tony Cummings reports on the ANNIE MOSES BAND whose 'This Glorious Christmas' breaks new ground in Christmas music

Annie Moses Band
Annie Moses Band

With Christmas music often being rock acts losing their way as they wimp out with Santa songs or over-the-hill crooners warbling on about open fires and chestnuts, 'This Glorious Christmas' by the Annie Moses Band (released this month through Integrity-Provident) stands like a beacon of creative integrity. With music sometimes labelled "chamber pop" - an amalgam of classical, jazz, pop, bluegrass and adult contemporary - the sibling group sing songs of the incarnation with spectacular originality. The group's Annie Wolaver spoke to CCM magazine about 'This Glorious Christmas'. "As a group we have always been drawn to concept projects, and a Christmas album is certainly the original concept project. In that way, I have found working on this Christmas music to be one of the most enjoyable, creative and, in many ways, easiest projects we have ever put together. The focus of the Christmas theme lends a simplicity that I find awe-inspiring, as we delve into the subject spiritually; and liberating, as we explore the wealth of sonic imagination the season offers."

The group is named after the great-grandmother of the five members that form the core of the group: Annie (lead vocals, violin), Alex (viola, background vocals), Benjamin (cello), Gretchen (violin, mandolin) and Camille (harp, keyboards). The precocious siblings handle their father's dazzling arrangements (Bill Wolaver composes, arranges and plays piano) under the watchful eye of Robin (mom) Wolaver, who is also a vocalist and lyricist with the group. If that wasn't sufficient, 10 year old Jeremiah also occasionally plays guitar with the band.

Annie Wolaver told christianpost website about the decision to honour their great grandmother in their band name. "Annie Moses was the eldest of 10 children. She married young and worked the whole course of her life as a hired field hand picking cotton. Despite the difficulties of an impoverished life, she was a tenacious and faithful woman who invested all she had in her daughter, Jane - who would grow up to be my grandmother. Jane was very musically gifted and she passed her passion for music on to my mother, who passed it on to me. Unfortunately Annie Moses died in her mid-40s of cancer, so I never knew her. But we wanted to remember and honour the legacy Annie Moses passed down to us."

While the Wolaver family were growing up, father Bill Wolaver worked for Word Records in Waco, Texas where he and his wife Robin wrote songs. They relocated to Nashville when Word moved there before finally settling in New York where three of the siblings, Annie, Benjamin and Alex, attended the famed Juilliard School Of Music. Said Annie, "Our time at Juilliard was one of tremendous growth. Juilliard is very competitive and you have to keep your eyes on the reason you are there in the first place, ie, the love of music. Alex and I studied with Masao Kawasaki, while Benjamin studied with Ardith and Ann Alton. They were all very demanding, but their depth of knowledge was at a level we had never experienced."

Annie Moses Band: Chamber pop siblings taking in bluegrass to classical

After completing their studies the Annie Moses Band came together. Remembered Annie, "The AMB was launched in the spring of 2002, but it was a long time in coming. We have been playing together since we were little. My father arranged pieces for us at our individual levels of skill. We performed quite a bit, but our focus was always our classical studies. In 2001 we started talking about beginning a group. We wanted to do something unique - that combined both our spiritual walk and our musical artistry."

Touring continually typically playing around 100 shows or more a year the group built up a large grassroots following, occasionally releasing albums on their own ManAlive Records. Two of these albums, 'Eden' (2004) and 'Bethlehem, House Of Bread' (2005) - a Christmas forerunner of 'This Glorious Christmas', got spasmodic distribution in the UK through ICC Records though largely it was their gruelling touring schedule which saw those albums and the later 'Always Morning Somewhere' (2006) and 'Through The Looking Glass' (2007) clocked up sizeable sales.

Through all their touring their Christian faith is pivotal to the band. Said Annie, "My parents and their heart for Jesus have always been a defining factor. But now my family life itself is what propels my spiritual growth. We pray and talk and read and talk some more - we have a run-on conversation with God and each other. We want to know even as we are fully known. I believe this constant state of connection has meant more to my personal growth than any other thing."

Now at last a big record company is taking the band's extraordinarily eclectic sound to a mass audience. On 'This Glorious Christmas' as well as standards like "We Three Kings" and "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear' there are originals like "Bethlehem, House Of Bread". Explained Annie, "The word 'Bethlehem' means 'house of bread' so the whole concept of the song is the great strategy of God in that Jesus would be born in the house of bread.

Annie Moses Band: Chamber pop siblings taking in bluegrass to classical

In the new year Reunion Records are set to release the Annie Moses Band's 'Make His Praise Glorious', the title track being a Bill and Robin Wolaver composition penned in 1988. One thing is sure, their music will continue to touch people of a wide range of ages and musical tastes. Said Annie, "We create music that speaks of how the Spirit of God touches our everyday experiences - whether it be through a generational legacy, the relationship between a father and a daughter, or simply stating the amazing nature of who God is." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


Reader Comments

Posted by sharon m in Columbus Ohio @ 03:00 on Dec 27 2014

Oh my God I have love all of them there music is so up lifting I can listen to a the Annie Moses band all year around their music take my depression away and just make me so very happy may they continue blessing the world with their beautiful music and may God the Father bless them all

Posted by Rhoda Kamchacha in London @ 00:53 on Dec 28 2012

Great music and great individual family talents

Posted by Sarah in Tiberius, Israel @ 17:00 on Dec 25 2012

I just watched a heart-warming concert by the Annie Moses Band on Middle East TV that has been broadcast throughout the Middle East. What a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas with such beautiful music. I was so blessed and thankful I got to see and hear this program. Thank you Annie Moses Band for the beautiful worship you offer to the Lord and share with us! Many blessings to you always from the land where it all began, Sarah

Posted by Bill Vollrath in Colorado Springs CO @ 14:50 on Apr 19 2009

Annie Moses Band has become one of my new favorite groups. We spent the winter in south TX in 09 and drove 400 miles one way to see and hear them in person twice on a Sunday. It was worth every mile and would do it again. This is a group dedicated to God and to each other. I wish them the very best as they share their gifts, talents and dedication with the world. Being one of two Christian groups to perform in North Korea in spring os f009 is a crowning achievement. Can't wait to hear their reports of this experience. Love you Annie Moses Band.

Posted by Sharon @ 03:49 on Dec 26 2008

They are great!

Posted by Steve Best in Medford, Oregon @ 23:40 on Dec 19 2008

Wonderful band. Truly original. Their music never fails to stir my emotions.

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

Add your comment

We welcome your opinions but libellous and abusive comments are not allowed.

We are committed to protecting your privacy. By clicking 'Send comment' you consent to Cross Rhythms storing and processing your personal data. For more information about how we care for your data please see our privacy policy.