An Interview With Past Mouseketeer CHASEN HAMPTON On His Involvement With Disney’s All New Mickey Mouse Club Holiday Album ‘Why? Because It’s Christmas’!
The holiday season is a time to celebrate Christmas, reunite with family and give to those less fortunate. This year, Disney’s ‘All New’ Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers are doing all three! Members from all seven seasons of the beloved Disney show have reunited after 30 years to partner with Cast Member Pantry, MusiCares® and The Brave of Heart Fund and raise spirits and funds for those severely affected by COVID-19.
During the height of the pandemic, 17 of the Mouseketeers (or ‘Teers) from the far corners of the US came back together to record 15 Christmas holiday classics to create one special album, entitled Why? Because It’s Christmas. The album will be released on November 27 (Black Friday) by Always In The Club/M12/Universal and is available for pre-order at: www.MMCHolidays.com. The 17 ‘Teers will come together digitally for a Virtual Record Release Party that same day and will be streamed live on M12.tv.
The album will be available as a commemorative holiday CD and as a digital download. A portion of the proceeds from the album will be donated directly to Cast Member Pantry, MusiCares® and The Brave of Heart Fund. Cast Member Pantry supports thousands of Disney employees who were laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic, providing them with much needed grocery items every month. MusiCares® provides critical assistance to members of the music community in times of need. The Brave of Heart Fund provides much needed financial support to the families of frontline healthcare workers and volunteers who lost their lives due to COVID-19.
“Music has such a unique ability to heal and unify us, and we’re so grateful for our position to continue to support music creators and professionals in these uncertain times. The direct impact we’ve been able to make on our music community during the pandemic would not be possible without the generosity of partners like Always In The Club,” said Laura Segura, Executive Director of MusiCares®.
“We are grateful to Always in the Club for its efforts to raise awareness for the Brave of Heart Fund,” said Holly Welch Stubbing, president and CEO of E4E Relief. “Contributions like this one will allow the fund to support even more families of fallen healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic as they navigate their unimaginable losses.”
The project features traditional holiday songs, including “O Holy Night,” “The First Noel,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Away in a Manager,” “Go Tell It On the Mountain” and more featuring the 17 ‘Teers with their own spin on the songs. This diverse group of performers representing all regions of the country were all a part of The “All New” Mickey Mouse Club that also launched the careers of mega stars Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Ryan Gosling.
The artists include:
Rhona Bennett (of En Vogue) from Chicago, IL
Deedee Magno Hall (Miss Saigon, Wicked, Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe, Hollywood Record’s The Party) from San Diego, CA
Tony Lucca (NBC’s The Voice, Album’s Executive Producer) from Waterford, MI
Nikki DeLoach (Hallmark Channel, MTV’s Awkward) from Blackshear, GA
Dale Godboldo (The People v OJ Simpson, Album’s Executive Producer) from Plano, TX
Chasen Hampton (X-Files, Hollywood Record’s The Party, Album’s Executive Producer) from Oklahoma City, OK
Tasha Danner (Portlandia) from Indianapolis, IN
David Kater (Sister Act 2, Gnome Alone, Charming) from Los Angeles, CA
Lindsey Alley (How I Met Your Mother, Lethal Weapon, First Wives Club) from Lakeland, FL
Jason “Blain” Carson (Shiloh, The Carsons) from Salt Lake City, UT
Jennifer McGill (Speaker, Worship Leader and Inspirational Pop Recording Artist) from Denison, TX
Mylin Brooks-Stoddard (Writer, Musician, Mental Health Advocate) from Midwest City, OK
Raquel “Roque” Herring (Betsey Brown on Broadway, Sang Sista Sang national hit musical, National Star Search Champion) from Miami, FL
Nita Young (first African-American Miss Virginia) from Chesapeake, VA
Jason Minor (Shiloh, Top Financial Advisor) from Bowie, MD
TJ Fantini (Accomplished Theater Director and Board of Directors of ACT Theater in Washington) from Belleville, IL
Marc Worden (Voice of Iron Man/Tony Stark, Star Trek: DS9) from Toronto, Canada
Learn more about this special holiday album and one of the Micky Mouse alumni contributor’s, Chasen Hampton in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So how are you keeping busy and musical these days during the pandemic? How are you staying connected to your fans? Are you finding that social media is even more useful now?
First off, thank YOU so much.. right back at cha.
I have 2 lil ones, 2.5-year-old, Hayes, and my 4-year-old daughter, Everly. The pandemic has made my place even much more lively and loud than it was before, a lot of extra energy that needs to be burned off, so getting things done lately has been an extra challenge. That being said, it seemed that as soon as COVID hit us, everyone of my creative friends had a brilliant idea I was diving into. I’m blessed to have a little recording set up at the house (and that my wife puts up with it lol) like so many of us and that has afforded me to continue working on projects without having to put my family in any great danger.
We have an incredible fan base that has grown up with us on the show, along with fans from the pop group “The Party” and my years as a soloist. Disney being diverse (way before it was cool to be) always gave you someone you could identify with. Additionally an incredible connection was made by using our real names on TV and being on everyday at 5:30 when kids would get home from school. Now 30 years later, those same fans are the foundation for so much of what we have been able to accomplish, on and off the screen.
Social media is a miracle for those of us from the old music business and yes, now more than ever. Back in the early 90’s they used the teen magazines to get messages out for us, now it’s a whole different ball game and wields pretty serious power. As an example during this lockdown after 10 years of trying, we were able to get “The Party” catalog digitally released after 30 years. It has never been released digitally and has producers Dr Dre and Teddy Riley among many others. The fans went wild tweeting/tagging Hollywood Records and Disney letting them know there was still a demand. Sure enough it worked and I ended up on the phone with the greatest folks over at Disney Music Group. The timing was incredible, so during the most depressing times of the lockdown, The Party had 4 albums released, 48 songs with all 4 albums reaching top 10 on iTunes pop charts. The coolest moment ever was going live on IG and announcing those release dates as a surprise.
Learn more about Chasen Hampton in the following All Access interview:
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a musician? What do you think motivates you day in and day out? How has that drive changed since you first started writing songs?
I was a bit of an introverted only child from Oklahoma. My family is full of farmers and preachers and athletes. At school I noticed early on you were either a jock or…you weren’t. I didn’t really fit in other than with the music teachers. Around age 9, I found my way to a competition called Oklahoma Kids (funny enough, Blake Shelton was a part of this as well) In that competition you could enter different talent categories. I found a home there where we all spoke the same performance language and as soon as I received that first response from the crowd…it was over. I felt like I had just hacked the popularity system. At school I was a nobody, but at the competitions, I felt like a rock star. When the time came for me to audition years later for Disney I was able to showcase so many skills from knowing these folks.. I could sing, dance, spin rope, ride a 6 foot unicycle, dance all styles and had so much performance time under my belt already.
Feelings…Creating a moment out of nothing, I love the feel of music and evoking feelings in others…it’s my therapy, it’s my motivation and has saved my life many times.
The motivation has indeed changed over the years. When I first started writing round age 13, they were all usually love or heartbreak songs. My lack of real life experience was apparent in my writing and easy to hear when I revisit the old stuff. When in “The Party” it was a clinic, we were being dropped off at Diane Warren’s or having recording sessions with Delicious Vinyl, Andre Cymone and could even be found writing at Stephen Bray’s studio Saturn Sound. Working with Teddy Riley and Dr Dre during this time was priceless. To be a fly on the wall as Snoop and The DOC are writing out your song with Dre was the most surreal experience ever.
Once out of the show, round 18 living on my own out in LA, slugging out on the Sunset Strip and working with different writers, I really began to gain some substance in the music that was missing before and was able to reel all those life experiences in to find a style that defined me.
I later found myself as an MD for two music schools in Agoura Hills and Los Angeles teaching hundreds of students, being a teacher helped to teach me about myself even more. Helping those kids write and perform songs, break them down and study them made me so much better in every way. Some of these kids today have actually gone platinum, out playing Lollapalooza and winning Billboard Music Awards… So proud!
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Was your family and friends always supportive of this career choice? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing?
My parents noticed me singing my little heart out as a baby so they entered me into a music preschool. It’s how I expressed myself then and I still haven’t changed. I remember sneaking into my parents’ record collection, checking out all the cool artwork, reading the lyrics and rockin’ out in the mirror. I had the full size door posters of KISS and Guns n Roses, and when life wasn’t going well, I could put my headphones on and depend on music to pull me out of a funk.
My parents…Kenyan and Bill. God Bless them! They are incredible and recognized I had a skill that was worth picking up and moving the entire family for. I think from the competitions and dedication I had shown, they knew I was all in.. But still I recognize now as an adult how incredible of a sacrifice that was and that so many amazingly talented kids don’t have that same support. As far as friends, most of my great friends were also performers so yes they felt the excitement with me and I always tried sharing the spotlight with them when I could. Of course there were people telling me I’d never do anything worthwhile, including some school teachers. I always tell people, “Don’t ask for directions from someone who hasn’t been where you are going.” So if someone wasn’t seeing my vision, I usually never asked them for advice. I had amazing mentors and teachers in the Oklahoma performing community who all wanted to see me do good things. They were extremely important to my success.
If I wasn’t a musician today I could see myself.. In a dream scenario running an Island Resort (I’m in Boston right now and it’s so cold) I love the outdoors and doing adventure type activities. But realistically I probably would never have left Oklahoma, and I would have helped to keep the family farm going. I’m sure I would find myself helping people on some level, for me, all roads lead to providing for those who can’t.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? Is there anything you wish you could go back and tell your younger self about this industry?
The surprise is just the never-ending gifts that music has brought. I’m just a kid from Oklahoma. The places it has taken me is unbelievable! The more I would put myself out there, the crazier the ride got. We were blessed to tour Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Shanghai all over Europe and have represented America in front of Presidents and World Leaders. All things I couldn’t have ever imagined would happen… The dedication and love from our fans has been incredible too, I’ve made so many great friends.
A challenge I had was the sacrifice of your time and schedule. A lot less family time and being home for the holidays.. Some say they lose their childhood but we literally grew up in a theme park so I don’t think that would ever fly with anyone. LOL! I didn’t get to go to prom or experience graduation like most of my friends back home but I have 0 regrets. The friends I made on that show are still my best friends on the planet…brothers and sisters.
Hindsight… Oh my goodness…absolutely! There was a long period when I was in Hollywood in my 20s, I had all this experience and the internet wasn’t invented yet. The days of Thomas Guides and Yellow Pages… In those days I regretted not paying more attention to the people I met along the way, The radio DJs, the music supervisors, the investors, the lighting and sound companies, people in management or at the label, the fringe that would later all be in positions of power. I wish I would have collected more business cards and found a way to keep connected. The old saying, “Your Network Is Your Net Worth.” Why no one told us that while we were out swinging in the big leagues, I have no idea, but it’s so important. Your community is everything and that’s what I have with my fellow cast members that is priceless.
Let’s talk about your involvement with the all new Mickey Mouse Club Holiday Album. How were you first approached to be part of it? Did you immediately jump at the opportunity?
Fellow Mouseketeer Dale Godboldo and I teamed up in 2019 to pull off the 30th Reunion of The MMC in Orlando Florida. We told ourselves if we don’t try to do it we are gonna regret it for a lifetime. He brought in his partner Lisa Cannata to help organize our many ideas. We learned very young on the show that sometimes you get the most help by giving, so Dale and I marched ourselves down to a town hall for the Pulse Foundation who we thought would be a great charity partner because of their mission of diversity and inclusion. While looking to talk with board members we ended up face to face with the president of Walt Disney World who unbeknownst to us was on the board. We poured our hearts out to him and promised him we have continued to be lifetime ambassadors for the Disney company. He just smiled at us, opened his arms for a big hug and hooked us up with an incredible team that would carry us over the finish line. The event was beyond incredible with a parade in our honor down mainstreet and a three day extravaganza hosted by Joey Fatone.
Right after the event we were all so hyped up and convinced that that was only the beginning, when we are together it’s like a super power.. I have now joined Dale Godbolda and Lisa Cannata as a co-owner of Always In The Club LLC with many more projects in the works.
I would jump to help these guys and girls out for anything! Flat tire, move a piano up a flight of stairs, do a Christmas album…ANYTHING! We are all each other’s biggest supporters.
Where did the idea to create this collection first come from? What was it like being an executive producer on it?
The idea for a Christmas album came from fellow ‘teer Tasha who after joining us for a Soul Sunday service at our MMC30 event, saw very clearly not only that it would be a fun endeavor but it would be well received by the fans.
Being an Executive Producer on this project is actually more stressful than if it was just mine. Carrying the weight of not wanting to disappoint our fans and of course want to make sure I put a killer shine on all these guys. I mean we all know Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, Christina, Justin Timberlake and JC, but trust me, each one of these guys and girls are just as fierce. Over 100,000 kids were auditioned to get that final cast so you can imagine there is plenty of untapped talent waiting to pop off. I love being able to adjust that spotlight and brag on some of my best friends.
Can you elaborate on how this collection is going to be giving a portion of the gross proceeds to Cast Member Pantry, MusiCares and The Brave of Heart Fund? What makes these three organizations so important?
As entertainers and event organizers, our industry has been stunted deeply and we recognized a lot of our fans are first responders and essential workers. When you’re just sitting round watching it all on the internet and TV, it leaves you feeling so helpless, watching our fellow colleagues lose their businesses, houses and jobs…it has been heartbreaking. This was the perfect way to not only bring attention to these amazing charities but guarantee they get money off the top, in perpetuity for the life of the album. As long as you are downloading, purchasing and streaming the music you will directly be supporting these incredible charities.
The Brave of Heart Fund provides financial and emotional services and support to the families of healthcare workers who lose their lives to Covid-19
Musicares created by The Grammy organization provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. Beyond the wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, Musicares also focuses their resources and attention on human service issues that influence the health and welfare of the music community.
Cast Member Pantry The non-profit was founded by Disney cast member Emily Lartigue in response to the now over 28,000 employees of Disney’s theme parks whose lives were disrupted by the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to the worldwide economy.
This one hits especially close, these related layoffs have been excruciating for our MMC family, Our beloved magic makers are at the heart of any memory ever made in the place we all call home. The amount of smiles they’ve created, memories they’ve made and dreams they’ve granted… that’s forever, and we couldn’t be more proud to call them family. We are so proud to be supporting these amazing charities.
What can fans expect from the virtual Album Release Party coming up later this month on November 27th?
On Black Friday the 27th, we will go live for our virtual release party. This will include special Christmas messages from the ‘Teers along with guests and live performances. We would love for you to join us and remind you that by doing so, you are supporting our charity partners.
Do you think there will be more albums like this in the future that feature past Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeers?
I absolutely believe so, and as the world starts to open up again, I can’t wait to see the music up on its feet in live performances and future releases. It’s so cool too that we all come with our own individual fan bases now, cross promoting and lifting each other up. But in fairness many of us have been jumping in on each other’s projects for a while now. We love doing it and I know by doing this album we have just fed the addiction big time…LOL!
What do you hope people take away from this all new Mickey Mouse Club Holiday Album?
For our fans it’s going to be like hearing old friends sing your favorite songs, and I know will leave you with a smile. For the new listener, I look forward to them discovering the incredible talent on this album and walk away with some new favorite versions of the holiday classics. Most importantly, I hope you feel a part of it because without the support from YOU, the charities would not receive what we know they need. Thanks so much! We had such a great time doing this project and treated it with the respect of the greatest Christmas present that we could ever create.
For artist development inquires I can be reached at chasenlife.com
Thanks so much for the interview and helping us spread the word! We are very appreciative! =) -Chasen