“Mothers In Jazz” is a valuable initiative created by vocalist Nicky Schrire, aiming to establish an online resource for working jazz musicians with children, artists contemplating parenthood, and industry figures who collaborate with and hire musicians who are parents. This series offers valuable emotional, philosophical, and logistical support and information through the insights of interviewed musicians. In this article, we shed light on the unique role of being both a mother and a performing jazz musician, with a focus on Canadian pianist, singer, and songwriter Sarah Silverman.
Sarah Silverman: A Brief Introduction
Sarah Silverman is a talented Canadian artist with roots in classical and jazz traditions. A graduate of the Glenn Gould School of Music in Toronto and the Manhattan School of Music in New York (MMus), she was mentored by vocalist Luciana Souza and pianist Bruce Barth. Sarah made her Broadway debut as a pianist for the Tony Award-winning production. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and their twelve and eight-year-old children.
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Balancing Motherhood and a Career in Jazz
LondonJazz News: What is the best advice you received about balancing/juggling motherhood and career?
Sarah Silverman: The best advice came from my mother, who has four children and juggled multiple careers. She told me there is no perfect time to start a family. The point was that there is no way to predict how motherhood will change your life or your artistic path. It’s messy, ever-evolving, and at some point, you take the leap and figure out the details as you go!
LJN: What information or advice do you wish you’d received but didn’t (and had to learn through trial and error or on the go)?
SS: I wish I’d been told to relax and go with the flow. I was so worried about losing my identity as a musician and holding on tightly to the way things were before my babies that I created more stress and exhaustion for myself. It’s taken me twelve years of motherhood to finally realize that my children and my role as a mother are constantly growing and changing. There have been times where music has taken a back seat, and that’s okay – it’s something I always come back to.
Top Tips for Mothers in Jazz
- Protect and value your practice/writing/creative time – consider hiring a babysitter to be fully present with your work.
- Create a special space for yourself where you can be creative, preferably with a door that closes to avoid disturbances.
LJN: Baby/child gear tips for travel/touring/gigging:
SS: The Ergo baby carrier was the most valuable thing for getting around when my kids were younger.
LJN: Best general travel/gigging/tour-with-child advice:
SS: Focus on food, water, and outdoor play space—find those wherever you go, and everyone will be happier.
LJN: What has surprised you about becoming a parent and remaining engaged with your professional activities and ambitions?
SS: I’ve been surprised by how precarious it has felt at times. I’ve questioned my identity and whether I could even call myself a musician anymore. I’ve realized there is no “supposed to be” in this crazy life/music/motherhood balance, and it’s forever evolving.
Setting Boundaries in Motherhood and Jazz
LJN: What boundaries have you set for yourself as a mother in jazz (related to travel/touring, riders, personal parameters, child care decisions, etc.)?
SS: I have always prioritized my practice/creative time, and my husband and I decided early on to hire a babysitter for a few hours a day so that I could have this time and space. I often felt guilty spending the money, especially when not working a paid job. However, it was because of this decision that I could start writing and working on the music that became my first album.
Sarah’s New Album: Lyric Pieces
Sarah Silverman’s new album “Lyric Pieces” is produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Luciana Souza). Together, they recorded an innovative re-imagining of the music of Edvard Grieg. Lyric Pieces intertwines Sarah’s voice, lyrics, and arrangements with Grieg’s music and was released by Adhyaropa Records on 16 June 2023.