Mothers In Jazz (58): Andrea Superstein

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.

Andrea Superstein. Photo by Sean McGuire

Andrea Superstein is a Canadian vocalist and composer. Like Gretchen Parlato and Sara Gazarek – with whom she studied – her original music is infused with contemporary traits. Andrea has performed around Canada, including repeat performances at the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and at the Calgary Jazz Festival. She’s collaborated with leading figures in the Canadian jazz community such as Jodi Proznick, Elizabeth Shepherd, and Jane Bunnett. Andrea was raised in Quebec but lives in Vancouver with her 7 year-old child.

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

Andrea Superstein: Not to feel guilty about leaving your kids at home when it comes time to touring again. In a way, I felt guilty about not feeling guilty. But I got over that! It’s important to celebrate oneself.

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)?

AS: People might say they understand what it’s like to be a working musician mom, but few are willing to offer support (childcare, flexibility with rehearsal schedules, funding or financial support for nannies/childcare on the road). Things are slowly changing, but you need to advocate for yourself right off the bat.

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

AS: There’s no playbook. Nobody can decide except for YOU when you’re ready to get back at it. If you’re ready to tour after 3 weeks, don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise. That being said, if you need 3 years, that’s ok too!

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

AS: I have never toured with my child. Touring in Canada is already challenging with long drives and potential weather issues. It’s a lot of work to tour-manage and perform every night. For me, adding kids to the mix has meant it’s never been feasible, logistically or financially.

Also, I think if we try to wear too many hats at once, something’s gotta give – either the music will suffer or the kid, or the mom! It’s ok to say, “ I’m going to go out on the road and be my musician self right now.” Mothers often bear the bulk of the child-raising responsibilities – this doesn’t have to be the case. There are lots of capable fathers/partners/relatives out there – they might not even know it until they are given the chance to try.

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

AS: Normalize being a mom. When my child was 10 months old and I was on the road without her, we had to stop the tour van at a gas station late at night so I could pump. I didn’t try to hide it – this was part of my everyday life. One of the band members was so curious, he even asked if he could taste it. I thought that was hilarious!

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

AS: Things take a lot more time now. My brain is consumed with a whole other person and setting aside time for creative work can be much more difficult and certainly less spontaneous. I’m learning to accept my ever-changing reality and continue to try and exercise patience with myself. This is a constant challenge as my musical goals and ambitions are as lofty as ever.

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.)?

AS: I am much more selective about who I choose to work with and what work I will take.

Andrea’s current album “Oh Mother” celebrates the shared experience of motherhood. Inspired by real life stories of over 50 mothers and featuring some of Canada’s most innovative musicians like Rachel Therrien and Ayelet Rose-Gottlieb, it is due for release in February 2024, with the first single in October.

LINKS: Andrea Superstein’s website
The complete LJN Mothers in Jazz archive

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