#mothersday

Melodies of Motherhood: Stories of North Carolina’s Working Musician Mothers with Shannon Whitworth

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Melodies of Motherhood 

Stories of North Carolina’s Working Musician Mothers 

Story by Carly Jones, N.C. Arts Council Music Director

As a little girl who grew up playing house in tree forts while also staging living room concerts with a hairbrush as a microphone, I was taught by the world around me that these two paths were mutually exclusive. Later, as I ventured into my twenties majoring in music and pursuing a career in the arts, I was told by a mentor of mine, “You can have it all – you just can’t have it all at once.” Times are changing. Recently, I have worked with several artists who have been able to balance motherhood and a creative career. Many young artists, like myself, who hope to one day have families of our own, marvel at the women who somehow manage to balance it all. In this limited Mother’s Day series, you’ll hear from North Carolina musicians who are inspiring examples of women who have embraced motherhood and their artistry and are defying the odds. 

Shannon Whitworth

Transylvania County, N.C.

Singer-Songwriter, Americana

Name and age of your child:

Rivers, 3

What is your child's favorite song?

Rivers loves music. His most consistent favorite song during the daytime is 'Radio' by his Dad's (Woody Platt) band The Steep Canyon Rangers. He asks to listen to it often and grabs his instruments and plays along. However, at nighttime he loves for me or Woody to sing a song called 'Baby Boy' that we wrote for him when he was in my belly. It helps put him to sleep. 

What does your child think of your own music?

He appreciates my music and cheers really hard when I finish a song if he is watching me perform, which always cracks me up. The best is when he is building a fort or walking to the river in the backyard and singing a song. If he is singing a new one that I have been working on it always gets me and I think "Wow – I had no idea he was even listening and could say those words!” We don't realize he is paying so much attention. It's pretty funny to hear a three-year-old sing out some heavy words or a juicy ballad unprompted. 

What’s the coolest part about being both a musician and a mother?

The coolest thing about being both a musician and a mother is to be able to share that art with your child. To be able to connect in that way is so fun. It is pretty magical watching Rivs play various instruments and watching his musical soul blossom. Hearing him make up his own songs and asking me to write with him is surreal and hilarious. It is an incredible thing to share with your child or any human really. 

What challenges have you faced being both a musician and a mother? 

There have been some challenges being both a musician and a mother. The moment Rivers was born I could not fathom leaving him or throwing him into my touring life. I had no idea I was going to feel that way. It was as if my life as I knew it had to stop so it could rebuild in a new form with this new being. Redefining that new form has been both scary and wonderful and super hard. Woody tours full time - I felt the need to say goodbye to the road full time and stay at home and be still for Rivers in the early part of his life. It was the scenario for us that felt right. With the birth of a new life there was sort of a mourning period of the old way, but I think lots of moms experience this. It feels even better than before now. Time with Rivs and the stillness allowed me to find new ways to incorporate everything my creative-side, mama-side and wife-side needs. I paint almost every day which I never got to do on tour. It is always a balancing act, but it feels like it's getting a bit easier every day. 

How does being a mother change the way you approach your music and your career? 

Being a mother has for sure changed the way I approach my music and career. I do not tour like I used to but when I do it is special and very fun. I have more time to write now and paint which is as or more rewarding for me right now because it works with our lives and feeds my soul. Rivers is at the center of all my decisions and if it doesn't jive with our world than it doesn't feel right. 

What advice would you give young musicians who would like to one day also be mothers? 

Be patient. There is a season for everything. My art and writing suffered for the first two years of Rivers life. I wasn't inspired to create which was foreign and scary for me. Eventually something switched. Rivers got older and I became more at ease in my new world I guess. Having a child has brought me to a whole new muse with a fresh new palette of colors to paint with.  

About the Artist

Shannon Whitworth’s swoon-inducing musical style found its first showcase in her Asheville-produced solo debut, 2007’s "No Expectations." Followed by 2009’s critically-acclaimed "Water Bound" (an album that drew comparisons to Emmylou Harris’ "Wrecking Ball"), Whitworth garnered praise in outlets ranging from People magazine to Garden & Gun. Her honest reinterpretation of ‘Americana,’ a la Mark Knopfler meets Norah Jones and the ghost of Julie London, has garnered Whitworth prime appearances from Philadelphia Folk Festival to Yosemite’s Strawberry Music Festival to Nashville’s own Ryman Auditorium. For Shannon, art is music and music is art. They come together effortlessly, much like the river confluence in the backyard of her picturesque Carolina farm. A self-proclaimed mermaid, you’ll often see and hear water as a theme that runs through her creations,further echoing her love for fluidity in all things.

Melodies of Motherhood: Stories of North Carolina’s Working Musician Mothers with Shana Tucker

Monday, May 13, 2019

Melodies of Motherhood 

Stories of North Carolina’s Working Musician Mothers 

Story by Carly Jones, N.C. Arts Council Music Director

As a little girl who grew up playing house in tree forts while also staging living room concerts with a hairbrush as a microphone, I was taught by the world around me that these two paths were mutually exclusive. Later, as I ventured into my twenties majoring in music and pursuing a career in the arts, I was told by a mentor of mine, “You can have it all – you just can’t have it all at once.” Times are changing. Recently, I have worked with several artists who have been able to balance motherhood and a creative career. Many young artists, like myself, who hope to one day have families of our own, marvel at the women who somehow manage to balance it all. In this limited Mother’s Day series, you’ll hear from North Carolina musicians who are inspiring examples of women who have embraced motherhood and their artistry and are defying the odds. 

Shana Tucker

Durham, N.C.

Cellist / Singer-Songwriter, ChamberSoul

Name and age of your child:

Sebastian, 18

What is your child's favorite song?

"Touch" by Omarion

What does your child think of your own music?

Sebastian knows the words and melodies to many of my songs, which always surprises me. I mean, I know he hears them all the time because I'm writing or rehearsing or performing them and he's around...osmosis-like. But they sound so sweet when he sings them back to me, the way I sing them, same articulation and nuances as I do, or I would, but in his ‘Sebastian-voice.’ The fact that he knows so much about my music tells me that he holds space in his heart for it.

What’s the coolest part about being both a musician and a mother?

I think it's cool that Sebastian has grown up knowing that it's entirely possible to live a happy, sustainable life as an artist. Sebastian has played several different instruments over time: piano, cello, Native American flute, electric bass, and now he's a DJ (old-school/vinyl records only). But he has chosen to follow the professional path of Visual Art, attending UNC Greensboro in the fall (Go Spartans!). In our home, Sebastian has witnessed the power that music has to help and to heal the mind, body and spirit...and he also knows about the many ways that music has contributed to the sustainability of our household, too. It's truly a gift to be able to lead by example and show Sebastian that choosing a career in the arts is a viable, rewarding path, beneficial to both his personal well-being and the communities where he will live and share his talents.

What challenges have you faced being both a musician and a mother? 

I remember having a conversation with a prospective manager, and I don't even know if this was a legal thing for him to ask me, but he asked how old my son was, and told me that if he were "too young, that might affect your ability to work and be gone a lot". That right there told me that this was *not* the manager for me. For my entire professional career, I have seen my colleagues' children on stage, back stage, in the green room, at rehearsal, in the audience...and Sebastian has been right there with them. Sometimes he's the only one; sometimes he's chilling with all the other artists' kids. Yes, it requires more planning and scheduling to execute my career while also taking into consideration my child's schedule, but it's definitely not a prohibiting factor to my success or my ability to show up and be great. It actually adds to my ability to be great, if I'm being honest!

Shana Tucker with her son, Sebastian

How does being a mother change the way you approach your music and your career?

When Sebastian was born up until he was about seven years old, I really couldn't figure out how to split my brain and my heart to accommodate both music and motherhood. Songwriting didn't come as easy to me as it did pre-motherhood; making time to practice or finding performance opportunities was not the priority it once was, certainly not in the shadow of nursing and naps and play dates and Marbles and dinosaur museums. But interestingly enough, the first song I wrote after five years of nothingness was a song called "Just A Moment," where I talk about finding Shana the Musician again, figuring out a way to give energy and light to her while effectively holding down Shana the Mom status. For me, it's about balance. Once I realized that it isn't necessarily either/or, it became easier to figure out how to balance both essential components of who I am: Mother and Musician. That realization thankfully filtered into other areas of my life and helped me to be able to say "yes" and "no" with more authenticity and, at least with the no's, less guilt. And those are yes/no choices for both career *and* motherhood, by the way!

What advice would you give young musicians who would like to one day also be mothers? 

Mothers spend so much time nurturing and caring for others that we ofttimes lose sight of self-care. There's a whole lot of truth to the saying, “When Momma's not happy, nobody's happy!" Take time for yourself, listen to yourself, share your dreams with yourself, and be your own best advocate for the things that you need and want. Whether you're already a mom or a someday mom, remember to keep a sacred space in your heart and carve out space in your schedule and your life for Happiness...and make it your theme song, your main melody, your jam!

About the Artist

Lyrical storyteller. Soulful cellist. Dynamic singer-songwriter. That’s Shana Tucker. Her unique genre of ChamberSoul™ weaves together jazz, roots folk, acoustic pop, and a touch of R&B, into melodies that echo in your head for days. A Long Island native, Shana studied classical cello at Howard University in Washington, DC, where she dove into improvisational jazz and honed her singer-songwriting skills, and received her degree in Violoncello Performance from CUNY-Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music, where she studied with master cellist Marion Feldman. After Cirque du Soleil heard an NPR interview with Shana about her debut CD, SHiNE and her ChamberSoul style, they invited her to be cellist/vocalist for their show, KÀ in LasVegas, where she performed for five years before returning to North Carolina. A sought-after collaborator, Shana performs and records with legendary jazz saxophonist/composer Bennie Maupin, jazz drummer/composer Shirazette Tinnin, jazz flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell, and Grammy-nominated NuSoul collective The Foreign Exchange. Shana’s newest project, Women’s Work, is a female-led collective of jazz, soul, and pop singer-songwriters and musicians representing both east and west coasts. Shana is a recipient of two Nevada Arts Council grants, including the prestigious Artist Fellowship for her exemplary work as a Performing Artist. She serves on review panels and advisory committees for arts organizations across the country, including United Arts (Raleigh, NC), South Arts (Atlanta, GA), and Nevada Arts Council (Carson City, NV). A front-line advocate for arts education, Shana is an accomplished teaching artist as well, incorporating community engagement, workshops, and teaching residencies into her touring schedule. Working with students from Pre-Kindergarten through college and lifelong learners, Shana is a North Carolina A+ Schools Fellow and has been a teaching artist with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts since 2015. She is also a teaching artist with United Arts Council of Raleigh/Wake County (NC) and The Smith Center for Performing Arts in Las Vegas.

Melodies of Motherhood: Stories of North Carolina’s Working Musician Mothers with Andrea Edith Moore

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Melodies of Motherhood 

Stories of North Carolina’s Working Musician Mothers 

Story by Carly Jones, N.C. Arts Council Music Director

As a little girl who grew up playing house in tree forts while also staging living room concerts with a hairbrush as a microphone, I was taught by the world around me that these two paths were mutually exclusive. Later, as I ventured into my twenties majoring in music and pursuing a career in the arts, I was told by a mentor of mine, “You can have it all – you just can’t have it all at once.” Times are changing. Recently, I have worked with several artists who have been able to balance motherhood and a creative career. Many young artists, like myself, who hope to one day have families of our own, marvel at the women who somehow manage to balance it all. In this limited Mother’s Day series, you’ll hear from North Carolina musicians who are inspiring examples of women who have embraced motherhood and their artistry and are defying the odds. 

Andrea Edith Moore

Durham County, N.C.

Soprano, Opera

Name and age of your child:

Michael, 3 1/2 

What is your child's favorite song? 

His favorite song is definitely Bob Dylan’s "Blowing in the Wind” with “Blueberry Hill” by Fats Domino as a close second. 

What does your child think of your own music?

He seems to love it when I practice at home and goes about his playing or his own business while I’m singing away. If I’m at the piano, Michael will sometimes come up and try to accompany me which usually results in us making stomping dinosaurs or fluttering butterfly sounds on the keys. 

What’s the coolest part about being both a musician and a mother?

We’ve been fortunate to host several artists in residence at our home: several pianists, a banjo player, a violinist, a conductor from Germany and even a Grammy Award-winning producer. We also have salon concerts in our living room from time to time, and I teach at home weekly. From those salon recitals to impromptu jam sessions, Michael has seen many performances. He's even had a few personal serenades sung to him. I think having a home full of music is a pretty special and magical thing for a child to experience, and I’m grateful for all of my musician friends and colleagues who share themselves and their music with him so graciously. 

Just yesterday Michael attended a concert of mine at the Carolina Theater and afterwards he said to me, “Mommy, when you were singing I was sending you all the love in my heart! Did you feel it?” The answer is YES, I truly felt it! So beautiful!

Andrea Edith Moore and her family
Andrea Edith Moore and her family

What challenges have you faced being both a musician and a mother? 

Time management is always the biggest challenge. In addition to my own schedule, which can be all over the map from evening concerts and rehearsals to sometimes weeks away, my husband also owns and runs two restaurants and has a completely wild schedule. Somehow, we manage it all and are good partners in parenting, but we do it with a LOT of support from family nearby. We’re extremely fortunate that my parents and sister are nearby, and they’re is rarely a week that passes when we don’t count on them for some sort of childcare support. Of course that also means Michael is very close with and has special bonds with his extended family, cousins and grandparents and that is wonderful.

How does being a mother change the way you approach your music and your career? 

I think I’m better at both planning and being spontaneous. I’ve become more efficient at practicing and preparation and I’ve also learned to let go of some extraneous nerves and anxieties. For example, I spent most of the morning yesterday at the playground with Michael before an afternoon concert. I think before I was a parent, I might have spent that earlier part of the day with my nerves. It makes me a better musician in general, I believe. 

What advice would you give young musicians who would like to one day also be mothers? 

You can do it! It’s not easy, but I have many friends and colleagues who are amazing women with vibrant careers and are succeeding at motherhood as well. I do think it helps to have a spouse who can truly co-parent and be near family or a great support system since the realities of performing mean that your schedule will likely be non-traditional and possibly involve travel for extended periods. It’s so worth it! 

About the Artist

Soprano Andrea Edith Moore is a singing artist, music creator, actress, dynamic collaborator and educator who approaches all things vocal with a fearless excellence. She brings a “certain opalescence that is particularly served by her impressive phrasing and inherent musicality” (operagasm.com) and comfortably traverses repertoire from opera roles such as the Countess to Anne Trulove to chamber music spanning the gamut of Monteverdi to Kate Soper and singing backup vocals for pop genre-bender My Brightest Diamond. Moore has been a principle artist with North Carolina Opera, Hamburg Kammeroper, Central City Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Greensboro Opera, Long Leaf Opera Festival, Yale Opera, and Peabody Opera Theater. Moore is a prize-winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a grant recipient from the Anna Sosenko Assist Trust and has been twice awarded the Yale School of Music Alumni Award. For her commission Family Secrets: Kith and Kin Moore was granted the Performing Arts Special Activities Fund from UNC-CH and the Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artist Grant from the Durham and NC Arts Councils. Ms. Moore holds degrees from Yale University, the Peabody Conservatory of Music at The Johns Hopkins University and UNCSA. She served on the voice faculty of UNC at Chapel Hill for seven years. Ms. Moore now performs full time, teaches privately and, with her husband, is a mom to an energetic 3 year old and owns two restaurants in Durham and Chapel Hill, NC.

Melodies of Motherhood: Stories of North Carolina’s Working Musician Mothers with Laurelyn Dossett

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Melodies of Motherhood 

Stories of North Carolina’s Working Musician Mothers 

Story by Carly Jones, N.C. Arts Council Music Director

As a little girl who grew up playing house in tree forts while also staging living room concerts with a hairbrush as a microphone, I was taught by the world around me that these two paths were mutually exclusive. Later, as I ventured into my twenties majoring in music and pursuing a career in the arts, I was told by a mentor of mine, “You can have it all – you just can’t have it all at once.” Times are changing. Recently, I have worked with several artists who have been able to balance motherhood and a creative career. Many young artists, like myself, who hope to one day have families of our own, marvel at the women who somehow manage to balance it all. In this limited Mother’s Day series, you’ll hear from North Carolina musicians who are inspiring examples of women who have embraced motherhood and their artistry and are defying the odds.

Laurelyn Dossett

Stokes County, N.C.

Composer/Songwriter, Americana

Name and age of your child/children: 

Emilia, 30

Rosalie, 28

Sophie, 25

What is your child's favorite song? 

They are all three voracious music fans and listen to lots of different genres and eras of music. One of them has a “Keep on the Sunny Side” tattoo, so that probably says something. 

What do your children think of your own music?

A lot of my work is writing and performing music for plays, so they have grown up exposed to theater and music as story-telling. I think they have all enjoyed that and they remain supportive of whatever crazy project I may be working on!

What’s the coolest part about being both a musician and a mother?

Being the mother of Emilia, Rosalie and Sophia is just the coolest thing ever. They are smart and funny and beautiful and loving - they are such bright lights! Being a musician is also wonderful. I get to do two things I love.

What challenges have you faced being both a musician and a mother? 

I am not sure my challenges were much different than those of any other working mother, except for perhaps the ridiculous yet prevalent notion that doing music as a job isn’t really “work.” That attitude seems to be changing and that is good for everyone, not just mothers.  

How does being a mother change the way you approach your music and your career?

I was a mother before I was a musician, and in some ways that fact informs everything about my music. I try to write music that tells true stories, songs that connect us to ourselves and to one another.  I try to write from an open heart, and this old heart of mine is open because it has had a lot of practice loving my girls.

What advice would you give young musicians who would like to one day also be mothers? 

The same that I would give young musicians who want to be fathers! If you are ready to love a little human deeper and wider than you can imagine and keep doing that for the rest of your days, go for it. Being a successful parent and a successful musician require similar skills:  creativity, open-heartedness, discipline, vision, tenacity, a supportive network, a sense of humor and the ability to stay up all night!

About the Artist

Laurelyn Dossett has partnered with Preston Lane on six plays featuring regional folklore and original music: Brother Wolf, Beautiful Star: An Appalachian Nativity, Bloody Blackbeard, Providence Gap, Snow Queen and Radiunt Abundunt. Commissioned by the NC Symphony, she composed and performed “The Gathering: A Winter’s Tale in Six Songs” in 2011. A song from Brother Wolf, “Anna Lee,” was featured on Levon Helm’s Grammy-winning record Dirt Farmer; her song “Leaving Eden” is the title track of the Grammy-nominated recording by the Carolina Chocolate Drops. She collaborated with playwright Mike Wiley on a new play called Leaving Eden, which premiered at Playmakers Rep in April 2018. She has received the Betty Cone Medal of Arts and the NC Arts Council Fellowship for songwriting. She lives in Stokes County.

Melodies of Motherhood: Stories of North Carolina’s Working Musician Mothers with Rissi Palmer

Friday, May 10, 2019

Melodies of Motherhood 

Stories of North Carolina’s Working Musician Mothers 

Story by Carly Jones, N.C. Arts Council Music Director

As a little girl who grew up playing house in tree forts while also staging living room concerts with a hairbrush as a microphone, I was taught by the world around me that these two paths were mutually exclusive. Later, as I ventured into my twenties majoring in music and pursuing a career in the arts, I was told by a mentor of mine, “You can have it all – you just can’t have it all at once.” Times are changing. Recently, I have worked with several artists who have been able to balance motherhood and a creative career. Many young artists, like myself, who hope to one day have families of our own, marvel at the women who somehow manage to balance it all. In this limited Mother’s Day series, you’ll hear from North Carolina musicians who are inspiring examples of women who have embraced motherhood and their artistry and are defying the odds. 

Rissi Palmer

Durham County, N.C.

Singer-Songwriter, Southern Soul

Name and age of your child/children: 

Grace, age 7 1/2

Nova, due June 6

What is your child's favorite song? 

Grace: "My favorite song is 'Seven Rings' by Ariana Grande." (deep eye roll from mom)

What does your child think of your own music?

Grace: "It's good and has a nice tune. It's cool having a mom that's a musician. She's a little bit famous." (LOL)

What’s the coolest part about being both a musician and a mother?

I love being able to share my love of music with my daughter and watch her develop her own. Grace can stand in front of anyone and speak or sing and isn't the least bit scared because she's used to it. 

What challenges have you faced being both a musician and a mother? 

It’s important to me that my children have a consistent schedule and stable home life. I also want to be there when the big things happen, so sometimes there are opportunities that I have to pass on because they don’t fit my family’s schedule. For example, I mostly play on the weekends and try to be home either late Sunday night or early Monday morning, so my family can either travel with me or I can at least pick her up from school. If it’s something that I absolutely can't pass up, then my husband and I will figure out how to make it work so that our home life isn't disrupted. I couldn't do any of the things I do if it weren't for my husband. His help is imperative. 

How does being a mother change the way you approach your music and your career?

In so many ways. For one, I’m hyper-aware of the fact that I have two daughters that are learning how to be women by watching me, so I’m cognizant of the example I set. They see me in charge of my band, running my own business behind the scenes, loving every moment of being onstage, working hard to make my dreams come true...I want them to know they can have families AND a career they love. 

I also know that because I’m mom, my sacrifice is a little different from if I were dad. My children depend on me in ways my husband just can’t fill, so I have to adjust. My ambitions haven’t taken a back seat, they’re just prioritized differently. 

What advice would you give young musicians who would like to one day also be mothers? 

There’s no one way to be a mother and musician. My way works for me and mine, but may not work for others. The type of partner you have is extremely important. You have to have someone who is supportive and respectful of your dreams and work. Also, before the babies come, sit down and really consider what motherhood looks like to you. Does it mean helping with homework every night? Chaperoning Scout camping trips? Or is it riding in a van around the country, playing shows with car seats in the back? Now... think about how a family fits into that vision. Is your vision sustainable? Is it healthy for you, your partner, and your child? If you can make it make sense, go for it. Just know that it takes lots of planning, consideration, and trial and error, but it is possible. 

As a mother, I've recorded three albums, one when my daughter Grace slept in a crib in the vocal booth while I did vocals and the other during the first trimester of my pregnancy with Nova. I have toured with a toddler and while pregnant. You can do this. Women are capable of so much, motherhood isn't an obstacle, it's a pathway. 

About the Artist

Rissi Palmer experienced a lifetime of milestones when she released her self-titled debut album in 2007. Rissi received widespread attention, including Ebony, Parade, Vibe, and The Wall Street Journal, to name a few. She made national television and radio appearances such as the CBS Early Show, PBS’ Tavis Smiley Show, and Sirius XM's Dr. Maya Angelou's Show on "Oprah & Friends." She was invited to perform at the White House and the Grand Ole Opry upon numerous occasions. And as if all that wasn't enough, Rissi also made music history as the first African-American female to chart a country song since 1987 with the release of her debut single, "Country Girl." Rissi has since released two projects independently, a children’s LP Best Day Ever in 2013 and 2015’s The Back Porch Sessions. Best Day Ever earned her an invite to play Lincoln Center in New York City and two of its tracks were featured on Smiles Ahead and Heart Beats, compilations made by Hallmark. The Back Porch Sessions, an EP described as “Southern Soul”, has received attention from publications such as Rolling Stone, PerezHilton.com, People Magazine, and NPR’s The State of Things.  She is now preparing for the release of a new project, entitled Revival, in September 2019. 

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