Mothers In Jazz (46): Cecilie Strange

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.

Cecilie Strange is a Danish tenor saxophonist and composer. She first studied with the great jazz saxophonist Hans Ulrik in Odense, and later with saxophonist Chris Cheek in New York. An exciting new voice in today’s dynamic Copenhagen jazz scene, her deep and soulful tenor sound has gained international acclaim. Her fourth album “Beyond” (9 June, April Records) is a musical statement of peace, relaxation and contemplation inspired by the arrival of motherhood.  Cecilie lives in Denmark with her husband and their three children, aged five, two, and eight months old.

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Cecilie Strange. Photo credit: Soren Ronhold

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

Cecilie Strange: When I was a child my parents (who both had music careers) took my sister and myself along to gigs they had. We were listening, reading, drawing or something else. And sometimes we fell asleep if it was late. But they let us come along and be a part of their work life as musicians. That inspired me so much. So my advice is to let your children come along when it is possible.

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)?

CS: The only thing is that I miss my kids very much if I am gone for several days in a row. So I try not to be gone for too many days.

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

CS: It is definitely possible to be a mother and a musician at the same time. You will have a lot on your plate and in your mind but it is truly the most amazing and beautiful thing to become a mother. And that will inspire your musical journey and life in general as well. And the fact that you can share your job with your children and your partner and grandparents when they are babysitting on the go is unique.

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

CS: Good things for them to do on the go-reading books, drawing books, toys, something to watch and listen to. And yeah, let them be a part of it all.

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

Depending on the age of the child, you can let them help you with small things. Carry a small bag, help unpack your instrument or something like that. And really be with your child(ren) when you have the chance. Don’t think about music related things – just let them feel you really want to be around them and play and have fun.

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

CS: I get a lot done because the feeling of time changes. Before you have kids time is just shared between you and your partner(or just yourself), so you need to be a good planner. My husband and I try to plan our schedule really well, which for me means that I get a lot done.

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.)?

CS: It is important to me that I balance my life in a triangle between being a mother, a musician and a partner. If there is too little on one side, it will tip. I am really lucky to have a husband that likes to come along and help with our kids on the go or being home with them while I am on tour. That is amazing and I am very grateful for that. So sometimes we need to do things just the two of us as well. Go out for dinner, to a concert or on a romantic getaway.  And it is also important for me not to be away from home for too long and to do things with all five of us. For example, right now my family and I are on a five-week long adventure in Bali. We are having the most amazing experiences together and it is so wonderful to be around each other for every hour of every day. 

Cecilie’s fourth album “Beyond” came out on 9 June 2023 on April Records. The record is a melancholic, spacious, Nordic ode to the circle of life, both literally and conceptually. It features pianist Peter Rosendal, Thommy Andersson on bass, drummer Jakob Høyer and special guest Josefine Cronholm on vocals & percussion.

LINKS: Artist website / Beyond on Bandcamp

The complete archive of Nicky Schrire’s Mothers in Jazz series

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