Rhiannon Giddens is a vocalist, banjoist and fiddler from Greensborough, North Carolina. Rhiannon’s music draws from old-time, gospel, celtic, folk and jazz. She’s won Grammys with her string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops, she won the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, and she won a recent MacArthur Genius Grant. She’s a cast member of the TV show “Nashville” and is also the mother of two young children, Aoife and Caoimhín. Topics include: touring for 200 days with a baby in a minivan, her children’s idyllic life in Ireland, letting go of ego, music as activism and how motherhood has changed her creative approach.
Amanda Bergman hails from the Swedish countryside and began her professional music career in 2010. She’s a member of the Swedish band Amason and has collaborated with The Tallest Man on Earth and Lykee Li. In 2016 Amanda released her first solo album, “Docks”, and also performed at the Polar Music Prize Ceremony. Now age 29, she and her musician partner Petter Winnberg are new parents to a 5 month old baby named Flora. In this episode we discuss swedish maternity leave, sleep deprivation, running a farm, and differing cultural expectations for mother musicians as compared to fathers. I spoke to Amanda over Skype from her farm in Sweden in September of 2017.
Shara Nova graduated from the University of North Texas with a BA in vocal performance and went on to compose works for opera, youth choirs and her own baroque pop band, My Brightest Diamond. She has recorded as a guest vocalist with David Byrne, Laurie Anderson, The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens and The Blind Boys of Alabama, and she’s collaborated with visual artists Matthew Ritchie and Matthew Barney. She’s also the mother of 7 year old Cozzie. In this episode we discuss artistic fear vs freedom, touring 60% of the year, how Shara organizes her time when not on tour, being present for her child, and the dedication required to pull it all off. I spoke to Shara over Skype from her studio in Detroit in September of 2017.
As the daughter of country music icon Johnny Cash and a musician parent herself, Rosanne is the perfect fit for this podcast. She’s won multiple Grammys, she’s had two gold records, and in 2015 she was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. She’s also a great writer. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Mother Jones and Rolling Stone, and she wrote a beautiful memoir which I read and loved. She’s also the mother of four children. In this episode we discuss how growing up as a child of a touring musician affected her career choices, how she structured her time when her kids were young, touring with the Carter Family, how to deal with maternal guilt, and gun control activism as an extension of mothering. I spoke with Rosanne in my home studio in Portland, OR in November of 2017.
Meshell Ndegeocello’s music spans genres, from funk to soul to jazz to hip-hop and rock. She’s been credited for sparking the “neo-soul” movement and has received 10 Grammy nominations throughout her lifelong career. Her current projects include a new album and scoring the music for the TV series “Queen Sugar.” Meshell is also the mother of two sons, Solomon and Atticus. In this episode we discuss raising her first son as a young single mother working nightclubs in DC, and her second son much later in life, and in a committed relationship. We also talk about the value of saying “no”, wanting to do something other than music and the importance of choosing a good partner if you decide to tour a lot. I spoke to Meshell over Skype when she was in LA in October of 2017.
Corin Tucker is best known for her role as singer, songwriter and guitarist for the band Sleater-Kinney. She’s also made albums under her own name and has collaborated with members of REM on a new project called “Filthy Friends.” She’s also the mother to two children, Marshall and Glory. In this episode we discuss the early days of the riot grrrl scene in Olympia, being mentored by Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, balancing responsibilities with a creative husband and how motherhood has deepened Corin’s work. I spoke to Corin in Portland, OR in October of 2017.
Carol Kaye was a member of the “Wrecking Crew”, a group of top notch session musicians who played on many of the hit records of the 60s and 70s. Carol recorded with Simon and Garfunkel, Sonny and Cher, Ike and Tina Turner, Quincy Jones, Barbara Streisand, JJ Cale and many, many more. Carol accidentally became a studio musician when she was invited to record with Sam Cooke in 1957. She went on to play on over 10,000 recording sessions. Throughout her career, Carol was also a single mother of three children. Now an 82 year old grandmother, Carol still teaches bass and guitar and recently self-published her memoir. In this episode we discuss Carol’s first guitar, what it was like playing in the LA jazz clubs in the 50s, how music was a lifeline for Carol, and how she balanced her demanding studio schedule with raising three children. I spoke with Carol in her home north of LA in September 2017.
Over the course of ten solo albums, countless tours, and some high-profile collaborations, Laura Veirs has built a loyal audience and garnered the respect of critics and peers alike. Still, as the mother of two young boys, she struggles to juggle her responsibilities to her family and the demands of her art. This struggle led Laura on a quest to see how other musician mothers navigate through life and to document their stories for this podcast series, Midnight Lightning. Laura talks to her co-producer, Joe Wong, about her own story and she attempts to answer many of the same questions she poses to her guests. Topics include: partnership, parenthood, musicianship, fear and love. Stay tuned for Season One of Midnight Lightning, premiering January 3, 2018 with legendary bass player Carol Kaye.