Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing, multi-tasking moms out there. In honor of this day, ETM interviewed 4 musician moms all of whom have recently released new albums of family-friendly music. We picked their brains about motherhood, touring, juggling career and family, self-care, as well as role models and traditions they’d like to pass on to their kids!
In good motherly egalitarian fashion, the artists appear in alphabetical order! Fair is fair.
A HUGE Thank you to these lovely, talented and hard-working moms for being so generous with their time!
“Motherhood is the forefront of my life, but I need to make music to survive.” ~Jessie Baylin, Nashville-based singer/ songwriter and mother of two
JB: Being a mother has been the most rewarding journey. I’ve learned more about myself in the past five years that I had in the first 29 (years)! That is not to say it hasn’t been incredibly challenging and difficult at times, but I think any (experience) that is this precious has both sides of the coin.
ETM: Congratulations also for the release of your new album Strawberry Wind, how has motherhood changed and influenced your musical work?
JB: We listen to a lot of music together as a family, whether that’s in the car or in our house and I definitely have paid attention to the music that has struck a chord with my daughter (Violet, 5 years old). When I decided to make Strawberry Wind, I thought about things that might appeal to her– lyrics that were extra descriptive, dripped with a bit more color while at the same time still (thematically) compelling to me as an adult. I wanted to be satisfied singing these songs while still delivering stories and universal themes.
ETM: Did you plan in advance for how motherhood would affect your work life? Any unexpected challenges?
JB: I’m all about the schedule & planning ahead. And then sometimes that falls apart and you just have to roll with it! I knew when I had my daughter that my family would be my number one (priority). That hasn’t changed, but I do relish the moments where I get to sneak away and make music. (The times) when I get to share (my songs) with my family all together– that’s the sweet spot. The only challenges I’ve come up against are my own personal anxieties. But that’s nothing new, really!
ETM: Motherhood is an all encompassing experience/ adventure, what do you do in terms of self-care to help give yourself much needed breaks?
JB: My husband and I try to take a long weekend for ourselves when we can, so we don’t forget who we once were to each other before (having) children. When we are home, I like to hike the trails near our house in Nashville. I also book myself a 90-minute massage once a month. Body work keeps me moving and (keeps me) in good form to take care of the people around me.
ETM: Is there a family tradition you grew up with that you are now sharing with your own family now?
JB: Sunday supper. I’m Italian-American, (Sunday supper) is something that is sacred!
The legendary Grammy winning solo recording artist Shawn Colvin has been making music for nearly 30 years. Among her many accomplishments, she is the proud mother of a daughter who is now all grown up!
SC: It amazes me that we all got this far as kids! People say it goes by fast, but these 20 years have been jam-packed, intense, glorious, and challenging. I’ve always said if I can see the day that (my daughter) lives on her own I’d feel like I accomplished something. That has happened! I’m very proud of us both and our relationship is better than ever.
ETM: Looking back on your body of work, what are some of the differences you have noticed about your music before and after having your daughter?
SC: There’s a fundamental shift in how we perceive ourselves, I think (once we become parents). We are now truly adults with a massive responsibility for a child. (After having my daughter) my work was no longer just about my romances and life as a person solely in service of themselves. I would never be single again. I’m forever and ever tied to this human.
My sense of vulnerability went off the charts, being in charge of a brand new person who was, for a long time, quite helpless. Now that (my daughter) is grown, despite the fact that always be looking out for her, I can relax a little. She’s become independent and it’s my job to trust her choices. But this journey (as a parent) has affected most of my work.
I imagine that (fans of my work who are mothers themselves) perceive my work on a different level. My album, Whole New You, is almost all about having my daughter– both the light and dark (aspects).
ETM: What are some of the greatest challenges about being a working musician and a parent at the same time?
SC: I knew I would take some ample time off to raise her when she was brand new. I knew that I would eventually travel with her on tour when she became old enough. It worked well and I just rose to the challenge of being a working mother. The biggest hurdle was when she started school and I had to go away without her. That hurt.
I think it’s important for women to talk about how to tour and be a mom, too. I feel like it’s harder for women to be away from their child than it is for men. Maybe that’s sexist, I don’t know. I felt such a keen sense of abandoning her and the guilt that came with it. At the same time I’ll admit that sometimes getting a break (from being a mother) was good for me, as long as it didn’t last too long. I am grateful that my daughter got to travel the world with me and sometimes still does. We’ve had some great adventures.
ETM: When your child was young, what did you do in terms of self-care?
SC: At first I did nothing. I was at it 24/7. The first kind of self-care I introduced (back into my life) was reclaiming exercise as part of my routine. I signed up for a triathlon and trained with other moms. I still exercise quite a lot. It starts my day off right, gives me energy, and makes me proud of myself.
ETM: What family traditions, if any, are you wanting to pass down to your daughter?
SC: This is an area I’ve always felt lacking in. We celebrate the usual holidays as a family. She’s very close to her cousins. I always sang her to sleep when she was little.We listen to music and sing in the car. Now that she’s older we still see each other quite a lot– we meet for dinner, go to movies, and visit each other’s cats. And we talk about everything!
“I’m old-school. I want to be there to drop off my daughter at school and pick her up.” ~ Lisa Loeb, Grammy winning singer/songwriter and mother
LL: I love being a mom! It almost feels like Christmas every morning (when) I wake up and get to see my kids and talk to them. I love getting to know these people. That being said, I’ve never balanced so many different things in a variety of areas in my life… and I could use some more sleep to stay as focused as I like in this lovely family life.
ETM: Has motherhood changed your creative process and musical work?
LL: I try to make sure my projects and travels are worth it! I’m even more picky than before (with new projects)— I don’t want to spend time away from the family if I don’t need to. I also feel more committed to my creativity and projects than ever before. I feel like I’m a role model and that impacts the seriousness of my attitude and approach.
ETM: I’m sure many of your fans are now mothers themselves. Do you find that you relate to those fans on a different level?
LL: (As a mom), I am in the other dimension now— it’s like being in a video game on a different level. I still relate to fans that don’t have kids, but there’s definitely a full world of conversations, thoughts, and issues relating to kids— from school lunch to sleeping habits and favorite toys (all the way through) to being a parent— setting limits, how to fit a date night in, and (coping with thoughts like) “Will I ever go shopping for clothes again in a store other than Target?!”
ETM: Do you have any role models on how to manage that delicate balance of motherhood and work?
ETM: Are you tired of being asked if it is hard being a mother and a touring artist?
LL: I love talking about being a mom and a touring musician! I ask other touring parents how they handle it, especially the moms. It is hard, but it’s also hard being a working parent who does any job that involves travel. We all do our best to make the most of the travel and the most of the family time.
ETM: How would you describe your parenting style?
LL: I’m very hands on, I love parenting books that encourage understanding your children, loving them, but also setting boundaries.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and learn time and time again that parenting isn’t a science and the plan is always changing. I (still) try to be super prepared, yet open to all kinds of changes.
LL:We celebrate Jewish holidays like Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, and often have Shabbat dinners (on Fridays). As a Star Wars family, our May the 4th traditions are coming together! At night, we read (together) and eat lots of meals together. We also love visiting with our families during vacations. Summer camp is also a big tradition with me (check out Camp Lisa*), and my daughter loves that!
*The CAMP LISA Foundation’s mission is to make it possible for kids, who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity, to go to summer camp. At camp, these kids are able to sing songs, play sports, make snacks, make friends, do arts and crafts, all the while learning about community, sharing, empathy, and having fun. The Camp Lisa Foundation aims to enrich the lives of children through the summer camp experience. They strive to create a greater public understanding of and support for the value of the summer camp experience and also to increase the number of children, youth, and adults of all social, cultural, and economic groups that will have a summer camp experience.
Parent’s Choice Gold Award Winning singer/ songwriter Sara Lovell lives in Berkeley, CA with her 8-year old son who loves to paint his face and dance in front of the mirror!
SL: I’ve been making music for children and families for (the past) 3 years. It just started coming out of me, directly from my everyday experiences with my son and being a parent. My son is now 8 1/2 and I’m just amazed at how the time seems to keep zooming by. Motherhood definitely changed my work in terms of when I’m able to create the music. Thankfully, the muse continues to meet me in those shorter time periods, like after I’ve gotten my son to bed and done the dishes and before I have to put my own self to bed.
ETM: Did you plan in advance for how motherhood would affect your work life?
SL: I planned to have a few months with no work schedule. I did end up composing some music early on, but it took a few years for me to go back to it and turn those bits and pieces into full songs and albums.
I told myself before beginning this adventure that I basically had no idea whatsoever what parenthood would be like, and I was right, I had no idea! Many unexpected challenges but also many unexpected gifts.
SL: I just look around and see that other people are doing it! Though most other moms I know have partners to co-parent with, we all have the same responsibilities and somehow just learn to juggle it all. It’s very helpful to share and receive tricks and tips, and sympathy for the challenging moments.
ETM: As we all know, motherhood is an all encompassing experience and adventure, what do you do for a bit of self-care to give yourself much needed breaks?
SL: I definitely could do a bit more in the self-care department! Scheduling a massage would be good! Though I have to say, creating and recording music is one of the most fulfilling things I could be doing. (As far as giving myself a break), I usually take one personal trip a year on my own and with other grownups.
ETM: Do you have any family traditions that you want to pass down to your son?
SL: I think for me, passing on values is what matters, helping to show my son the experience of connection– with each other and with the world around us. And to experience our own gifts and how to contribute to (community) and to this experience of living.