Mothers in Jazz

Mothers In Jazz (12): Barbra Lica



Mothers In Jazz” is a new series, started by vocalist Nicky Schrire. The initiative aims to create an online resource for working jazz musicians with children, those contemplating parenthood, and jazz industry figures who work with and hire musicians who are parents. The insight of the musicians interviewed for this series provides valuable emotional, philosophical and logistical information and support that is easily accessible to all. “Mothers In Jazz” shines a light on the very specific role of being both a mother and a performing jazz musician.

Barbra Lica is a JUNO-nominated vocalist and singer-songwriter whose music seamlessly blends jazz, country and folk influences. A seasoned act on the North American club and festival circuits, she has performed everywhere from Birdland in New York to Toronto’s prestigious Koerner Hall. She has also headlined at festivals across the continent including Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, Vancouver International Jazz Festival and Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, and opened for the likes of Christian McBride, Pat Metheny, and Terence Blanchard. After releasing albums on labels like Universal Jazz Japan and Justin Time Records, she decided to produce and self-release her 2022 EP “Imposter Syndrome.” Recorded almost entirely in home studios and pieced together instrument by instrument, the recording represents a two-year production collaboration with some of Toronto’s most accomplished artists including Christine Bougie (Bahamas) and Drew Jurecka (Dua Lipa). Barbra lives in Toronto with her husband and one year-old child.

Barbra Lica. Photo credit Bendan George Ko

LondonJazz News: What is the best advice you received about balancing/juggling motherhood and career?

Barbra Lica: It takes a village. Make mom friends and research city resources! From community groups to daycare subsidies to toy libraries, I feel like somebody around me always has the answers, tools, or help I need to stay afloat and juggle momhood with career goals.

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)?

BL: It’s important to stop for at least a little while. There was so much focus on my career not ending while I was still pregnant that I had trouble bonding with my baby in the very beginning. It’s okay to take at least some time to discover the new kind of joy that bonding with your baby provides. If anything, having something besides music that’s so joyful balanced me in the long run and made me more selective and efficient with my work and time.

LJN: Your top tip(s) for other mothers in jazz:

BL: Share the work of motherhood as much as possible: partners, extended family, daycares, mom friends. Consider motherhood your other band-personally I like to play with at least a quintet! Also, compartmentalise. When you’re with your baby, really be with your baby. It’s easier to deal with the reality of travelling a lot with your work and having long hours being a publicist/producer/bandleader/composer/administrator for yourself when you know that the time you spend with your baby is meaningful and representative of your best self.

LJN: Baby/child gear tips for travel/touring:
BL: The maxi cosi coral xp was a total game changer. It converts to a super light carrier with a gym strap so if you accidentally keep the baby out past bedtime, you can easily carry him inside without lifting him out of his car seat  until the moment you transition to the crib.

LJN: Best general travel/tour-with-child advice:

BL: I haven’t done it without a husband in tow yet. I highly recommend convincing your husband to take off work to follow you on tour but it’s a limited resource.

LJN: What has surprised you about becoming a parent and remaining engaged with your professional activities and ambitions?

BL: It’s weird that motherhood has almost made me work harder and better. I think it comes from feeling more centred and less sad in general where music can’t totally bring me down when something doesn’t work out anymore. It’s not the be all and end all so I can pursue my career from a place of joy.

LJN: What boundaries have you set for yourself as a mother in jazz (could be related to travel/touring, riders, personal parameters, child care decisions, etc.)?

BL: I don’t take gigs that aren’t worth my time anymore. Time is precious and if the gig isn’t going to be truly rewarding in some way, I’d rather be home with my son. Like I said, I’m still working hard and feeling proud of what I make, so I don’t worry that great work won’t come if I say no sometimes.



Barba’s new self-produced EP “Imposter Syndrome” was released on 7 October 2022, with generous support from FACTOR. It’s available now.

LINK: Artist website

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