Get ready ladies and gents, because Disney just made this Christmas a whooole lot more magical! The original cast members of the Mickey Mouse Club have teamed up to create a new reunion Christmas album, Why? Because It’s Christmas. Not only are the cast members spreading Christmas cheer, the proceeds will be going to MusiCares, The Brave of Heart Fund on Music for COVID-19 relief, and the Cast Member Pantry.
The Cast Member Pantry provides grocery items to Disney employees who were furloughed and laid off due to COVID-19.
The new album let’s us take a trip down memory lane featuring holiday classics from 17 original Mouseketeers, including En Vogue’s Rhona Bennett, The Voice’s Tony Lucca, and MTV’s Awkward, Nikki DeLoach among others.
We spoke to En Vogue’s Rhona Bennett to hear her thoughts on the new album, reminisce about her days filming on set at “the most magical place on Earth” and how she got to spend every day at Hollywood Studios. Casual. Check out the full interview with Rhona Bennett below.
The Knockturnal: What are you most excited about with the new reunion Christmas album?
Rhona Bennett: I might be most excited about the fact that people I have a beautiful bond with have come together, once again, to share something that we all love…music. It warms my heart to be working with them. And, I have thoroughly enjoyed discovering the magic and individuality everybody brought to their songs on the record.
The Knockturnal: How did this reunion album come about? How did you feel when you were asked to participate? What was your first reaction?
Rhona Bennett: I actually thought it was a great idea. I thought it was so cute and ingenious; all of the components that come together to make up the inspiration behind this creation, as well as the charities that it’s supporting, and the beautiful gift we get to give to loyal fans… I thought it was an awesome idea. I didn’t hesitate to be a part of it.
The Knockturnal: Tell us about Cast Member Pantry. How does it make you feel that by participating in the album you are helping so many Cast Members in need?
Rhona Bennett: It makes me feel like we are right in step with the example that was set for us so many years ago… to give back. To always be vigilant and ready to be of service to people who could be in need, and also to recognize people who are doing great deeds.
The Knockturnal: What is one of your favorite holiday traditions with friends or family?
Rhona Bennett: One of my favorite holiday traditions is simply coming together. I enjoy time with my family and friends. It is the one thing that I truly look forward to, beyond the gift giving.
The Knockturnal: What is one of your favorite memories from the set of Mickey Mouse Club?
Rhona Bennett: That’s a tough question because there are several memories that I am fond of. I did enjoy interviewing Jesse Jackson for Hall of Fame day. The All New Mickey Mouse Club seemed to be on the cutting edge of bringing attention to racial inequality at such a young age on a progressive show.
The Knockturnal: Since Mickey Mouse Club was taken at Hollywood Studios, what was it like being at Disney World everyday?
Rhona Bennett: It was pretty cool. I don’t know that I was fully aware of how special what I was experiencing was at the time. We did get to visit what they call “the happiest place on Earth”, regularly. I can say that I am glad it is a part of my story, and linked to people I love.
The Knockturnal: Recently your song “Free Your Mind” made it to the R&B Top 10 list on iTunes, (congrats!) so what does the future hold for En Vogue? Can fans expect any new releases coming soon?
Rhona Bennett: We are hoping to release music as soon as we can. We did have intentions on releasing a couple singles this year in 2020, however, Covid altered a lot of plans, as you know. We are definitely looking forward to getting back in the studio, and sharing more music.
The Knockturnal: Recently you have been performing live-streams for fans and even a drive-in concert in LA. What has this been like? Do you enjoy the live streams? How are the live streams/drive-in concerts different than performing during pre-covid times?
Rhona Bennett: Different indeed. I will say that the drive-in concert was special because for me it was truly a marker of the times we’re in. Cars were socially distanced across the expanse of a University parking lot. Because of the chillier temperatures in California before show time, people were still sitting in their vehicles warming up while music was wafting amidst the night air. Sounds like I’m writing a book right now.
In all seriousness though, it was interesting to witness the music industry doing its best to be resilient. I feel like we are one of the hardest hit from the backlash of Covid. So it was rewarding to have the opportunity to perform again. For those who were more daring to enjoy the night chill, they were outside of their cars dancing and partying with us. Others decided to stay inside and honk their horns. It is an experience I won’t forget.
Live streaming was also very interesting in that there was no audience for the concert. So, the space in between songs was quite a different feeling. Regardless of those things, any opportunity we have to share the gift of music is welcomed by me. I’m sure we will find our new and working normal soon. Shout out to all the music industry and music lovers who are doing their best at this time.
Want to hear the new Christmas album? Well, of course you do. Check out the Mickey Mouse Club reunion CD here.