TALLADEGA -- Ritz Executive Director George Culver has characterized the finale of the theatre’s Spring Season as one of the biggest shows the facility ever hosted: The Annie Moses Band, an eclectic sibling group of musicians that has performed on television, at Carnegie Hall, at the Grand Ole Opry and in small towns all over the country.
The show is set for Friday night at 7.
Annie Wolaver Dupre is the group’s violinist, vocalist and leader, but she is not Annie Moses. Dupre said the band is named for her great-grandmother, who lived her whole life as a sharecropper’s wife in Texas before dying of cancer at age 49.
“That was the root of music, family and faith that we come from,” Dupre said. “Now, for us to be able to play at the Opry, at Carnegie Hall and to have had all the opportunities we have had, I think she’d be proud. She’s our inspiration.”
Dupre and siblings Alex (viola, vocals, writing), Benjamin (cello), Camille (harp and piano), Gretchen (Mandolin and violin) and Jeremiah (guitar) all “grew up in a musical family,” Dupre said. “Our parents were award-winning songwriters. When I was 4 years old, they wrote ‘Make His Praise Glorious,’ which was a hit for Sandi Patti. We moved from Texas to Nashville, (Tennessee), and we all took up stringed instruments.”
At this point, it had more to do with their parents heartfelt love of music than any plan to play professionally, she added.
She and some of the other band members eventually made their way to New York to study at Julliard, but after about three years, the band came together and has been going strong ever since.
Obviously, she said, there is a difference in playing at the Opry or Carnegie Hall or in a town like Oxford, where the group performed in December. Tonight will be the band’s first visit to Talladega.
“The Opry is my favorite just because of that spirit of life, and people just expect an amazing, fun time,” Dupre said. “On the other hand, for someone who grew up playing violin concertos, Carnegie Hall is also a very special place, but the most important thing is that people are people and that they love great music and a fun time.”
The band’s music has been described as “genre-defying,” blending what Dupre calls “fiddle fusion” with singer-songwriter and folk elements. “You have that kind of ‘wow’ virtuosity that people see initially, but we are also telling our family’s story and we want people to leave feeling inspired and fulfilled and having had an amazing experience.”
Friday's performance will pull from several different projects, including “Rhapsody In Bluegrass,” a bluegrass reimagining of George Gershwin’s masterpiece, as well as more personal selections such as “Cherokee,” “Where You’ve Always Been” and “Orange Blossom Special.” The siblings will also be including selections from “The Art of the Love Song,” their PBS special that has broken rebroadcast records.
“We were asked to do a couple of PBS specials,” she said. “The first was a Christmas show eight or nine years ago, which turned out to be our first national platform. It was a great launch.
“Then, ‘The Art of The Love Song’ (was) filmed about three years ago and aired two years ago. We recorded at the Opry with a hotshot orchestra and choir, and it was a really simple concept. Just basically that people don’t write love songs the way they used to. If you turn on the radio today, you don’t hear the kind of songs that were around during the American songbook era or from the singer-songwriters in the 1960s and 1970s. We wanted to help bring those songs back to life again, through the lens of the Annie Moses Band.”
Dupre and the rest of the group are also active in music education. They have run a summer music festival and academy in Nashville for the last 15 years and have also, more recently, launched a one-day-per-week conservatory that now has about 50 students.
“We want to invest in the next generation,” she said. “With the academy, we play five shows in 10 days. It’s classical training, but with a commercial emphasis. It gives them an opportunity to rub shoulders with professional musicians and helps them to prepare for life as a professional musician themselves. It’s exciting, rewarding work, and it’s a mission. It will be part of our legacy.”
The Annie Moses Band’s collected works are available through iTunes. Its most recent releases include recordings of “Rhapsody in Bluegrass,” “The Art of the Love Song” and a special recording issued last fall, “What Every Child Needs to Know About God.”
Tickets are still available for Friday's performance at The Ritz, online at www.ritztalladega.com or by calling 256-315-0000. All seats are $22, but group discounts are available.