Mothers of Artists: the real rock stars (note by Val)
We love our music. We love our artists. But we rarely stop to think about how they got there. Who was behind them along the way? Did they always know they wanted to be a musician, or was it an unexpected detour from another well laid out plan? Chances are, an artists' biggest fans are the parents who raised him. But for any parent whose child announces "I want to be a rock star" I'm sure it isn't a cake walk. Parents just want their kids to be happy. But a little money along with it would be helpful. How do you encourage your artist child to "live your dream" and "follow your passion" when deep down you worry, hope and pray that they make it in this business. Parents of artists are the real rock stars. I know many of them. A few are dear friends of mine. I've listened to them dream with their child, then pull back a bit in a reality check. Even if your child is a prodigy (and my three friends' sons are) you still worry that the industry will eat him alive, change him, or fail him. I asked my friends what life was like raising an aspiring artist. I'd like to introduce you to them.
Meet Nan: mother of Peter Martin age 19, Chicago
(drummer/guitarist/pianist/ multi-instrumentalist / song writer / drummer of band Young Jesus / freshman at Loyola University New Orleans / Music Business major) He juggles college and his music career / "College degree is his "Plan B."
Meet Kirsten: mother of Zach Heckendorf age 18, Denver
(singer/songwriter / guitarist / launching career - discovered by music industry moguls, opened for John Butler Trio, One eskimO, played Red Rock Music Fest, cut first album last month.) Will be college freshman next year.
Meet Susan: mother of Andrew Belle age 26, Nashville/Chicago (singer/songwriter / guitarist / career has taken off, discovered by and moved to Nashville, tours extensively, music is on TV (90210, Grey's Anatomy, etc.) and Film.
Val: When did you know that your son had something special?
Nan: "When Peter was about 2 years old I played "Bring Him Home" from Les Miserables on the piano. I went upstairs and heard him play the melody line by ear. I froze in my tracks. He still plays everything by ear. I can pick out a 'tune' on the piano. Peter can hear the whole chord."
Val: What was your happiest moment with your aspiring artist?
Kirsten: Watching Zach perform, particularly on bigger stages, feels surreal. As soon as he starts to play I am into the music... but every now and then I shake myself when I realize that is my sweet, quiet kid down there getting all the applause. As an artist he tends to be quiet and introspective - so anytime he is engaged with us with a relaxed smile on his face makes me the most happy!"
Val: What about your son are you most proud of?
Susan: "We've been proud of him as a person all his life, but now it's been taken to a whole new level, as we are huge fans of his music! He has so many qualities we could boast about, but it's his HUMBLE attitude, in spite of all his success, that gives us the greatest joy. His music is on TV, he's won MTV awards, he performs in front of thousands, yet he has not changed one iota."
Val: What do you pray for?
Nan: "You don't "raise" a musician. You have to really let them go at an early age. If we "raised" him, we would have interfered with his creative spirit. If we didn't "let" him pursue his dreams, we might have lost him. I pray for the same thing for all of my children - to be passionate about something, work hard at it, be really good at it, and be happy doing it. I believe the rest will come."