Mothers in Jazz

Mothers In Jazz (25): Kim Nazarian

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.

Kim Nazarian is a Grammy nominated musician, educator and clinician. Besides her work as a sought-after solo vocalist, she has spent over 30 years performing and recording with the vocal group “New York Voices“ (NYV). She has collaborated with musicians including Bobby McFerrin, Paquito D’Rivera, and Gary Burton, and she teaches jazz vocalists (virtually) at Ithaca College in New York. Kim lives in Oberlin, Ohio, with her husband and she is a mother to their 22 year-old son and two stepsons, aged 31 and 38.

Kim Nazarian. Photo credit: Publicity photo by Rosen-Jones Photography

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

Kim Nazarian: Don’t do it alone!

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)?

KN: My son needed a little more time to make adjustments than I did. Allow for their transitions.

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

KN: Don’t let people say you can’t. Children are resilient. They want to be with you and feed off of your passion. We can raise artists to be good productive people; like any other profession.

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

KN: The one piece of gear that saved me was the little vibrating bed. A must!

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

KN: Bring a nanny! Set up child care in other countries. You will need help to do your best work. Your band will help you-they love being Aunts and Uncles.

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

KN: Two things. I only had one child but that seems to be the pattern of many professional women. And, my son is getting his Masters Degree in Music! Go figure! He’s one of my favorite bass players-what a feel!

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.)?

KN: I had dietary restrictions for the first two years of his life. I nursed as long as he would let me. His safety always came first, andI tried to put him first as much as possible. I tried not to miss too many holidays or birthdays. That would’ve been too depressing for me!

Aside from being on tour with New York Voices, Kim is the Artistic Director of the DeMiero Jazz Festival in Washington State. The festival is made possible through the generous support of hundreds of volunteers and dozens of businesses who give their time and money. You can visit the link below to find out more about donations to the festival.

LINKS: Kim Nazarian’s website

Support the DeMiero Jazz Festival (celebrating vocal jazz since 1977)

Nicky Schrire was interviewed by Women in Jazz Media for their December 2022 magazine

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