Mothers in Jazz

Mothers In Jazz (15): Júlia Karosi

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

Júlia Karosi is a Hungarian vocalist whose original music marries jazz and an array of influences from the Hungarian folk-influenced melodies of Bartók and Kodály to the songs of Gershwin and Sondheim. Her latest album “Without Dimensions” features guitarist Ben Monder and was released on Challenge Records and Double Moon Records. She lives in Budapest with her husband and their son who is six and a half years old.

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Júlia Karosi. Photo credit: Kis Kata

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

Júlia Karosi: I feel lucky because my mother, Júlia Pászthy is an opera singer, who has had a very successful career. She set an example for me of how to balance the challenging roles of being a mother and a performer. Mostly, the difficulty lies in making the right practical decisions and dealing with logistics. 

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)?

JK: In early motherhood, I had a hard time sleeping at night and the constant fatigue really wore me down. Concentration on my work became challenging because that required focusing on music completely and being able to exclude everything else. Even before my concerts, the biggest challenge was to be ready mentally and emotionally. I could have used some advice about autogenic training or any other relaxation techniques. Those would have definitely helped me. 

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

JK:  Everyone is different and every child is different so I don’t have a one-for-all tip. The most important thing for me is that when I’m with my son, I can focus on him, and when I’m doing my creative work, I can be fully present there. This is what our genre is all about anyway: being present in the moment.

LJN: Baby/child gear tips for travel/touring:

JK: I do not travel much with my son, but when it happens, I pack the whole house to make sure we have all the supplies. There is always something that we end up leaving at home. I would also advise to be flexible and don’t worry too much about unimportant things.

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

JK: My advice is to try to find someone to help take care of your child when you have professional tasks. Someone who you fully trust, and then you can relax and do your job. 

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

JK: My dedication to music has become more profound since I became a mother. I started to practice a lot in my head and think about music even when I was not singing.  When I perform or rehearse music live now, it’s a great joy and a real celebration. My experience of giving birth to a life brought out deeper and visceral emotions in me that are reflected in my music and singing. 

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.)?

JK: Until now, luckily, I have not felt the need to set any boundaries. My husband and my family helped me to realize my goals, so I feel extremely lucky. Without their help, I would have had to make more difficult decisions in my career. 

Júlia’s new album, to be recorded this Fall in Budapest with the Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu, will be released in 2023.

LINK: Júlia Karosi’s website

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