Christmas 2022 was a gift from God. 24 concerts in 25 days and an incredible week with the Cincinnati Symphony. It made us all remember why we were musicians in the first place.
It had been 3 years since we were on the road in any meaningful way. The pandemic and then the Christmas-time birth of my daughter had pushed away the annually epic Christmas tour of the Annie Moses Band.
It was great to be back performing, but this year something different was happening. Something we didn’t anticipate.
“Look! It’s Benjamin Cello!” It was a 4 year old boy with his finger pointed. He was wearing a bus boy hat with a vest. He looked like a little man. He looked like Benjamin Cello.
He was looking at my brother, Benjamin, the cellist, and he wasn't particularly interested in a picture with me and a sparkly dress. He wanted a picture with Benjamin Cello.
Now, perhaps you haven’t heard about our kids tv show, The Wonderful World of Benjamin Cello. If not, I like to tell folks that if you imagined Mr. Rogers and Mary Poppins found each other, it would be Benjamin Cello.
In 2019, the year before the pandemic we piloted the show. Robin Wolaver, our award-winning writer and mother, had an incredible catalog of scripts and songs she had written with our father Bill, from years of writing and directing the children’s productions at the Annie Moses Summer Music Festival. The material was beautiful and imaginative, funny and faith-filled. Robin wanted to develop a new tv show for children that would put that creativity to use.
When we pitched the pilot we received super-positive feedback and Apple TV, which was months away from its launch wanted a meeting about Benjamin Cello. But at the end of the day, there would be no show unless all the “God” was removed. As the representative at Apple said “that little word, ‘God’ how tied are you to that?”
Turns out, we were pretty tied.
So we set out to make Benjamin Cello without funding. To be honest, it was hard. My parents and our brother Alex and his wife sold their homes and bought 57 acres with a 5000 square foot steel building an hour outside of Nashville. They all crammed into the apartment at one end and began turning the building into a production facility to house Benjamin Cello’s wonderful world.
In the middle of the build out the pandemic hit and all our performances were cancelled. We had no visible means of support, but…we were ready to film season 1. It was a difficult time, but there was always oil in the jar and bread for the day.
When The Wonderful World of Benjamin Cello season 1 was finally released the reviews from parents were more than we could have imagined. Within a few months, it was streaming on all the faith-based platforms. I won’t belabor this little email with all those reviews, but if you want to read them and learn more about the show you can click here:)
Now, back to 2022 Christmas tour. The little boy standing before us didn’t see the Annie Moses Band. He saw the characters of the show: Benjamin Cello, Professor Wordsworth, Cowboy Roy, Cowgirl Pearl, Miss Gretchen, Annie Appleseed, and the Stump Jumpers. He knows all the words to all the songs. In fact, his mom has signed him up for piano lessons because he wants to play music like Benjamin Cello.
One mother stopped me and looked right into my eyes and said, “Thank you. Thank you for Benjamin Cello. We love it. It’s impossible to find something God breathed for my children. Thank you.” It wasn’t just a comment, it was like she wanted to stake a claim in my heart.
Attached is a picture of such a family. It made me so happy to receive them in the mail the other day.
These children weren't taking a picture with the Annie Moses Band - they were taking a picture with the cast of The Wonderful World of Benjamin Cello.
Help us keep making Benjamin Cello !