Pilgrims & Prodigals: Annie Moses Band

Perspectives on Roaming, Redemption, and the Next Generation from the Annie Moses Band

By Scott Rhoades

Published December 2012

SGNScoops Magazine

anniemoses As the blazing sun cast its blistering glow across the dry and dusty plantation fields of Texas, a young woman arched upwards to a kneeling position, rested on her knees, and lifted an arm to wipe away the beading drops of sweat streaming down her bronzed and tarnished face. The Great Depression was a difficult time for most and survival was the priority of the day. Work, when found, was cruel and ruthless. Life, if survived, was a tale of hardship and adversity. For Annie Moses, there was no exception. A hired field hand, she shaded her eyes with her arm and squinted as she stared across the vast cotton fields and watched as other workers moved wearily under the weight of the exhausting, afternoon heat. She bent her head down and coughed to clear her throat of the heavy, granular air, struggling to catch her next breath. Then she closed her eyes to rest. How could she go on like this? There was no progress. Life as a sharecropper was difficult and burdensome and the work nearly unbearable. But then her thoughts turned towards her children back in the old clapboard shack, especially her daughter Jane’s musical gift, in which she would sacrificially invest. Perhaps there was reason to go on. A flicker of hope kindled deep within her spirit and she opened her eyes, knelt over the next plant, and began to quietly hum the tune of a poor wayfaring pilgrim.

Decades later, on a black, rainy night in New York City, Annie Wolaver found herself sitting in a cab for the trip home. She wasn’t paying attention to the bustling busyness along the avenues or the stream of traffic that could make the journey longer than it should. Her mind was in a million places and she had a real dilemma on her hands. The proposition was risky at best. Should she continue pursuing a solo career in classical music or would she squander the years of dedication, hard work, and the musical legacy left to her through her parents, her grandmother Jane, and her great-grandmother and namesake, Annie Moses for a chance at something she had viewed as a “sideline gig” or something she and her family did “just for fun”? Annie reminisced about her past; the long hours she and her brothers and sisters had spent practicing and honing their skills and talents with their parents, at the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and Julliard. She thought about the times she and her family would perform together for family reunions or small events. Could they do something more? Could they successfully travel outside the boundaries of traditional classical music? Would it work? Could it work? Would they remain pilgrims or become prodigals?

Introducing The Annie Moses Band

In 2002, The Annie Moses Band embarked upon and initiated a musical renaissance unlike any other. Abandoning individual classical careers, Annie, along with her brothers and sisters, set out with their parents, noted songwriters and arrangers Bill and Robin Wolaver, for an exceptional journey with bold combinations of musical genres that remain unparalleled.  Named in honor of their great-grandmother, Annie Moses, the band’s philosophy and mission surround their family legacy and reclaim the arts by investing in the next generation of musicians to propagate the gospel of Christ.

Annie takes the lead on violin and performs most of the lead vocals. She is joined in this incredible fusion of musical styles and elements by brothers Alex (viola), Benjamin (cello), and Jeremiah (guitar), along with sisters Camille (harp and organ), and Gretchen (violin 2, and mandolin).While Annie’s father Bill (piano and keyboards) and mother Robin (background vocals) have traditionally rounded out the group, the band has recently grown to include sister-in-law Berklee (Alex’s wife and background vocalist) and musician Javier Santiago (drums.)

The pride of their heritage is evident, not only in name, but in their dedication to hard work and musical excellence. With eight musical CD and DVD projects (Legacy, Always Morning Somewhere, Bethlehem – House of Bread, Christmas Bright and Beautiful, Eden, Christmas with the Annie Moses Band, This Glorious Christmas, and Through the Looking Glass) and the song Love’s Legacy – a tribute to Annie Moses, the band has enjoyed over a decade of growth and success, preparing them for the next chapter of an exciting adventure!

Pilgrims and Prodigals

Pilgrims and Prodigals is the latest project from the Annie Moses Band and in spite of their past success, Annie believes “this is reallyblush our first release because it represents a dream in the making and a new chapter in our lives.” While the band has recorded numerous CDs and DVDs, Pilgrims and Prodigals represents the group’s first self-produced, commercial release. “This project explores the timeless themes of roaming and redemption. Everyone is going somewhere,” says Annie. “We are either finding our way back home or running away from it. The songs of this project tell one of those two stories.”

While the Pilgrims and Prodigals project is available as a double disk, CD/DVD combination package, complete with an amazing mix of classical, jazz, folk, Celtic, and pop arrangements with studio and live performances, it also reflects references to timeless works of literature and poetry, painting a portrait of the narrow path of the pilgrim and the well-traveled path of the prodigal. The songs selected represent the works of talented writers and musicians from times past, including members of the Wolaver family, and provide a refreshing perspective for the road of life.

Poor Wayfaring Stranger tops the list on this project and according to Annie is “the quintessential song of the pilgrim.” Described as a “slice of Americana, with a twist of Jazz,” Annie credits her father with reinventing and infusing this traditional classic with a fresh new sound.

I’ve Got A Name  brings back the familiar sounds of musician Jim Croce as the band receives a crash course in their parents’ favorites and highlights the importance of identity. “Identity is central to the concept of the pilgrim. You have to know where you have been to know where you are going,” says Annie.

sgnscoops1212_smLove’s Legacy is perhaps the theme song for the Annie Moses Band and pays tribute to their great-grandmother, Annie Moses. According to Annie, “She had a hard life and the perspective of her life led from a cotton field to the grave, but the perspective of eternity is that she blazed a trail from the cotton field to the concert hall.”

The Road Well Traveled (A Cautionary Tale), written by Alex Wolaver, is taken from the infamous Robert Frost poem Road Not Taken and invites the listener to once again take the road less traveled. The song features a vocal solo by Alex with a dynamic piano solo by Camille.

Blush is a call to traditional values, beauty and innocence. In addition to its performance on the CD/DVD project, the song is gaining additional exposure as the Annie Moses Band’s first music video premieres for television and the internet.

Catcher in the Rye, Progress, Read Between the Lies, and My Room, take messages from great works of literature (Catcher in the Rye, and Pilgrim’s Progress) and conveys the truth of hope in the midst of the pilgrim’s search for belonging and home and is augmented by the invigorating instrumental performances of Toss The Feather, Fiddlesticks, Moffat Jig, Girl of Constant Sorrow, Trail Mix, Shenandoah, and Blarney Pilgrim.

Annie Moses Ministries

While the Annie Moses Band celebrates their latest project, moves to a new chapter in their lives, and performs in concerts across North America, their passion, like that of their great-grandmother Annie Moses, is to invest in the next generation of musicians. In 2010, the band formed Annie Moses Ministries, a ministry dedicated to promote the pursuits of young musicians by providing artistic experiences that will “enrich and equip the next generation to obey the Biblical mandate to ‘make His praise glorious.'” Annie Moses Ministries includes The Fine Arts Summer Academy and the Annie Moses Conservatory.

The Fine Arts Summer Academy

The Fine Arts Summer Academy (FASA) is a two-week event held in Nashville, Tennessee for young artists, offering instruction in strings, brass, woodwinds, voice, dance, drama, guitar, piano, and percussion. Faculty include pedagogues and alumni from the Juilliard School, Cincinnati Conservatory, Berklee College of Music and other prestigious institutions. The Academy culminates in two original Broadway-style shows, tailor written for attending students: the Younger Division Musical (ages 3-10) and the Upper Division Gala Show (age 10-college sophomores). The FASA Gala Show is held on an arena stage with professional lighting, videography, audio, and orchestral accompaniment. “It’s Riverdance on steroids,” says Annie.

Annie Moses Ministries impacts the lives of over 300 students a year, and over 1,500 since the FASA began in 2003. FASA students come from over 27 states and three countries, with Annie Moses Ministries awarding more than $37,000 through FASA scholarship funds since 2010.

Applications for the 10th FASA are now available! This spectacular experience will take place at Lipscomb University July 13-27, 2013. Participants of the Academy will study and perform all styles of music and art, culminating in a Broadway-style extravaganza in the Allen Arena on July 27, 2013. This year, the Academy is proud to announce new tracks, including Composition, Creative Writing, Fine Arts, and Musical Theater for ages 10-13. For more information on the FASA, please visit: fineartssummeracademy.com

Annie Moses Conservatory

Annie Moses Conservatory, a mentor program for aspiring pre-college artists, specializes in solo instruction, commercial music theory, group performance, and artist development. Led by the musicians of the Annie Moses Band, the Conservatory nurtures the unique identity of each artist and prepares them for professional level involvement in the world of the arts.

Catch The Vision of Annie Moses

Annie Moses Ministries is a not-for-profit organization, and all donations are tax-deductible. By giving financially to Annie Moses Ministries, you could make a pivotal difference in the lives of young musicians. The students and families they serve are often isolated from excellent arts programs with a strong Christian emphasis. The work of Annie Moses Ministries brings these divergent lives together to form a community with a common vision and dedication to excellence. Each year, they receive testimonies from families and young musicians on the impact of the Fine Arts Summer Academy and Annie Moses Conservatory on their artistic horizons.

How can you help? Give (donations of any amount are needed and deeply appreciated).  Donate (instruments or musical supplies). Volunteer (become a part of the FASA). Pray. Giving may be done online, by phone or by mail. For more information you can contact Annie Moses Ministries at:

Annie Moses Ministries
PO Box 2473
Brentwood, TN 37024


For more information on the latest news and products from the Annie Moses Band, be sure to visit their website at: www.anniemosesband.com

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