Mothers In Jazz ( 35): Luciana Souza

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.

Vocalist Luciana Souza grew up in a family of Bossa Nova innovators – her father, a singer and songwriter, and her mother, a poet and lyricist. Her work as a performer transcends traditional musical boundaries, offering authentic jazz insight, sophisticated lineage in world music, and an enlightened approach to new music. While Luciana is a lover of words, having set the poems of Pablo Neruda and Elizabeth Bishop to music, she is also an expert in the art of wordless singing, effortlessly becoming another instrument and texture in small and large ensembles. Her work in this arena has seen her collaborate with Maria Schneider, the Yellowjackets and Vince Mendoza. Luciana and her husband, producer and musician Larry Klein, live in Los Angeles with their 13 year-old son.

Luciana Souza. Photo credit Kim Fox

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

Luciana Souza: That there is no balance. To be present in whatever I am doing.

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)?  

LS: I believe I got great advice and information as needed.

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

LS: Children are competent and capable.  Don’t rob them of their ability to discover and explore.

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

LS: Breastfeed if you can. Don’t bring everything you think you will need but always bring an extra set of clothes for everyone. Always bring food and water.

LJN: Best general travel/tour-with-child advice:
LS: Book your hotel based on proximity to a good market and a good park/beach. A happy child means a happy mom on the road. Keep naps and feeding on a schedule – don’t wing it. Pay your sitters well.  

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

LS: That so many millions of people do it. I am not special nor different.

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.)? 

LS: One of the parents is always home. Be generous to other parents and create a village with other parents so they can cover you when needed. Children grow and so must we.

Luciana’s most recent album as bandleader is “Storytellers” (Sunnyside Records) and sees her team up with Vince Mendoza and the WDR Big Band. She features on Cuban-American drummer Dafnis Prieto’s new record “Cantar”, out 16 September 2022. Alongside James Taylor, Norah Jones, Gregory Porter and others, she lends her voice to “Here It Is: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen”, produced by Larry Klein and out on Blue Note Records on 14 October 2022.

LINK: Artist Website

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