When I first heard of the Annie Moses Band, I was excited by the Darke County connection. Well, actually, no real connection exists, but, as most Darke countians are aware, Annie Oakley’s real name was Phoebe Ann Moses (or Mosey, or Mozee – as more history is unearthed, facts from the past can become murkier.) But in any case, the Annie Moses Band seemed like a great fit for Darke County Center for the Arts’ Artists Series, simply because the group’s name directly connects to the heritage of our community.
But that’s hardly the only cultural connection. The music performed by the Annie Moses Band is a highly listenable hybrid fusing American roots, folk rock, jazz and classical into an intriguing, beautiful and universally appealing sound that can be appreciated by all those who enjoy good music. Our community thrives on music rooted in the past, is ambivalent about jazz but loves the Great American Songbook from which much of that genre springs, and appreciates the classical tradition upon which almost all Western musical forms are based. All of that and more is what the Annie Moses Band will bring to the stage of Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall when they open DCCA’s 36th Artists Series season on Sept. 13. Their show, entitled “Rhapsody In Bluegrass,” offers Gershwin, bluegrass, and more - encompassing the best of America’s musical heritage.
Many local residents are already familiar with the Annie Moses Band, due to their best-selling Christmas albums and their PBS special, which has been aired on the network many, many times. And the group’s composer/arranger/co-founder Bill Wolaver is well-known for his arrangements of sacred music beloved by generations of church keyboardists. Robin Wolaver, wife of Bill and the other band co-founder, is an award-winning lyricist and an ardent advocate for arts education that elevates the mind and soul. And it is Robin’s grandmother who provided the inspiration for the performing group’s name.
Annie Moses endured harsh poverty as a field hand in the cotton fields of Texas; but in spite of many hardships, this hard-working woman did all she could to nurture the musical abilities of her daughter. Her shining example inspired granddaughter Robin to assure that her children had the opportunity to excel in music. And excel they did! Daughter Annie and sons Alex and Benjamin earned scholarships to famed Juilliard School of Music, and that was the start of a never-ending succession of musical achievement.
Singer/violinist Annie Wolaver Dupree, great-granddaughter of Annie Moses, daughter of Bill and Robin Wolaver, and sometimes assumed to be the ensemble’s namesake, fronts the band. In addition to brothers Alex (also a fiddler) and Benjamin, who plays the cello, other members of this family band extraordinaire are keyboardist Camille, and guitarists Gretchen and Jeremiah.
George Gershwin once revealed that Rhapsody In Blue was inspired by the noise of a train.
“Then I suddenly heard and even saw on paper the complete construction of the Rhapsody… I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, and of our unduplicated national pep,” Gershwin explained.
The Annie Moses Band will expand this “musical kaleidoscope” to create “Rhapsody in Bluegrass,” a transformative musical experience that imaginatively embodies American values and aspirations. The show starts at 8 p.m. Don’t miss it!
Tickets for the concert by the Annie Moses Band are $25, and can be reserved by contacting DCCA at 937-547-0908 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or purchased online at www.centerforarts.net. Tickets are also available at Bread of Life Bookstore in downtown Greenville.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.