NYC’s DonBlackCat, Rockdaddy and Longtime Guitarist, Plays on

interview by Rew Starr, Rockmommy contributor

It’s been a rough year for so many of us, including NYC-area musician DonBlackCat ( Donald Sztabnik), who lost his brother from the disease. But the guitarist, a frequent guest on the Pandemic Party/Rew & Who Show and the #rockdaddy of on-air personality/Z100 host Erica America, is still playing virtually and looking forward to a better 2021. 

DonBlackCat playing guitar

Rew: What have you been doing these days?

DonBlackCat: We all are suffering and trying to navigate through the challenges of the Covid-19 maelstrom … I lost my brother from this terrifying disease. I know many people who felt this pain up close and personal. But somehow we keep going and the music is always our friend, sometimes our only friend. To me the Guitar is like a Rubic’s Cube … simple yet a mystery that gets more Byzantine each time I pick one up. I have many laying around all over my house whispering to me ‘I dare you to try and play me !’ I continue to take bait… like Sirens wailing in the storm tempting me into frustration… I need to put wax into my ears to get some peace of mind. 

Rew Starr: Can you tell us about your kids?

DonBlackCat: My daughter Erica ( aka Erica America ) and my son Brian both look like me and for that I apologize to them both! I could not have asked for better kids who are now adults… ( Rew, are we adults yet… please let me know?). They like different music than me, but I do like what they listen to…

Rew Starr: How many major concerts and backstages have you been to thanks to her?

DonBlackCat: Erica is an on air personality for Z-100 so I have been to all the Z-100 Jingle Ball Concerts since she joined the on air roster a decade ago… so many great pop artists have graced the Madison Square Garden Stage. Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Pitbull, the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Camilla Cabello, Justin Bieber, Bebe Rexa, Ed Sheeran, among many others. My new favorite is Dua Lipa, with a sultry voice and great dance songs… one year backstage at MSG I got to meet the very special Christy Turlington who was gracious, funny and very down to earth… and she laughed at my jokes!

DonBlackCat and his daughter Erica America (of Z-100)

Rew Starr: How old were you when you realized you wanted to be a Rockstar? 

DonBlackCat: I was just 13 when I heard the Beatles on the radio for the first time on Thanksgiving night in 1963. It was on a small radio in the office of a local gas station. The WABC disc jockey said these lads from Liverpool had long hair and wore leather jackets and were called … The Beatles. 

I was struck by lightning, frozen in place staring at a tiny radio with a single speaker hearing ‘I wan to hold your hand’… that was the moment of moments for me. From then on it was the Beatles and all that followed, The Stones, The Yardbirds, The Kinks, The Who, along with my folk and blues favorites like Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzey.  

To me, the guitar was a magical instrument. How could so many artists playing guitar sound so different and so good? I borrowed an older acoustic guitar and struggled to learn a few chords. I have never stopped since and my guitars are my friends… they frustrate me one day and bring me immense joy the next! … ha!… just like kids!

Rew Starr: What’s the greatest part about being a ROCKDADDY?

DonBlackCat: The greatest thing about being a rockdaddy is having two kids that gained me entry into this esteemed club. They are my greatest songs and they keep me younger every day. I give sincere thanks that I have remained active in music and that the thrill is not gone. I’m blessed and I appreciate every note!

Rew Starr is a musician, actor and mom who lives in New York City.

Monique DeBose, on Creating New, Purposeful Art on the Heels of 2020’s Urgent ‘Rally Call’

By Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Monique DeBose’s song ‘Rally Call’ was one of the most impactful pieces of art to emerge from the most tumultuous year in recent history — but creating the song, and other music in 2020, was a process wrought with challenges.

With two young sons at home all the time amid the pandemic and the broader fight against racial injustice, finding the quiet moments for art sometimes felt impossible, according to the musician mama.

Monique DeBose

“Raising children through all the turmoil and racial reckoning required surgeon-like skills with how I shared information and life lessons with my 9-year-old and 7-year-old,” Monique tells Rockmommy. “I had a hard time carving out space for me to restore, meditate, be with my Self.”

[SEE RELATED: Monique DeBose: On Creating ‘Rally Call’ and Music That Inspires Change]

But with spring right around the corner, there is a renewed sense of hope in the air. We recently connected with Monique to talk about the re-release of her 2018 project (The Sovereign One), a new podcast (coming this spring!) and how she’s meeting the challenges of motherhood during the ongoing pandemic.  

Rockmommy: For those who might not be familiar with your music, how would you describe your sound?

Monique DeBose: Some would call my music jazzy pop infused with soul. I call it medicine. I create it to speak truth to power, to fear, to doubt. Everything I do is about owning all the parts of yourself. I believe that until we own all the parts of ourselves, only then can we truly be free. I am about creating more space in our nervous systems to be more loving to the things we’ve been ashamed of, embarrassed by and outright hated about ourselves. I do that through music, the written word and performance. 

Rockmommy: What were the biggest challenges you encountered in the last 12 months? 

Monique DeBose: The biggest challenge has been confronting the fact that many of my fellow Americans choose (consciously or unconsciously) to turn away from the injustices that are our country. It’s such a mindf*ck to know that everything we’ve built our lives on is so much more complex than the narrative that America was founded by the underdogs who worked hard and found prosperity. Having to accept that this bitter pill has colored every aspect of my life — raising my mixed/remixed boys, how I create art and what themes my works have, being married to a white, English, Jewish man, how I stand and support people who look like me- everything. 

That being said, raising children through all the turmoil and racial reckoning required surgeon-like skills with how I shared information and life lessons with my 9-year-old and 7-year-old. 

I had to face things with them that I didn’t think was fair to have to share with such young souls. Some people have the ‘privilege’ of not having to share the facts of life (as we presently know to be true) and I choose not to use that privilege. Using it only keeps the world in the state of denial that has brought all of what the summer of racial reckoning brought. 

Having kids at home 24/7 because of the global pandemic has also been ridiculous. There is no space to have the quiet moments I need as an artist. There is a constant piece of my consciousness with them — if they need homework help, emotional support, food — I begrudgingly made the choice to support them instead of keeping boundaries to be in my art/work. Each person who is blessed to be a parent must face this choice, pandemic or not- it’s a tough one. 

Also, regarding mental health, I had a hard time carving out space for me to restore, meditate, be with my Self. 

Rockmommy: What are you most hopeful for in 2021?

Monique DeBose: I’m most hopeful that people will continue down the path of taking an honest look at our lives — looking at the limiting beliefs we are letting run us at the detriment of our fellow community members. I am most hopeful that our nervous systems will keep expanding to be able to hold seemingly diametrically opposed beliefs so that we can be more loving with each other. That’s the 30,000 foot hope. Here on the ground, in my own life, I am hopeful that my voice will reach thousands upon thousands of people who feel fed by the medicine I’m sharing through song, the written and spoken word- through all my creative projects. 

Monique DeBose (credit: JQ Williams)

Rockmommy: Any recent or upcoming projects you’d like to share?

Monique DeBose: I am working on the re-release of my 2018 project, the Sovereign One. It was such a beautiful accomplishment to put this project out. The collection of songs are all about integrating all the parts of ourselves that we often compartmentalize for survival’s sake. It debuted at #2 on the iTunes charts. I cried ugly tears as I watched that happen! I’ve teamed back up with my songwriting partners, Isaac and Thorald Koren of the Kin fame, and we’re adding to the story. After all that transpired this past summer and the need for us to come together — to integrate all of our history — there is more of this story to tell. That will be released later this summer 2021. 

I’m also in the midst of recording a podcast called ‘More with Monique.’ After the success of my song ‘More,’ which was released in October 2020, we saw there was a global movement where women were inspired to choose more for themselves. Women around the world participated by declaring what they wanted to choose more of in their lives and held up signs letting their community know to hold them accountable. We’ve got the first season mapped out with some extraordinary and extra ordinary women sharing stories of when they chose more for themselves. We will release the project late spring 2021. 

Rockmommy: What advice do you have on balancing parenthood with creative life? 

Monique DeBose: There is no balance in my life if I’m honest. I find I put my attention on one thing and the other may suffer. It’s just part of the game. What I do attempt to do is accept that this is part of life, do my best to be gentle with myself, and remember, that there is something much bigger at play here. Whether I’m being the best, or the ‘crap’ parent, it is my job to remember that these precious souls that AGREED to come in and be parented by me, are resilient. They have their own entelechy, their own internal intelligence that will unfold, independent of me putting them to bed seven nights a week or four.

Please remember that we are all divine beings having a human experience and at this particular time, there is so much we are processing and integrating. And … we were built for this time — all of us, including our little ones. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

What’s Next for Natalie Schlabs

By Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Nashville singer-songwriter Natalie Schlabs made one of my favorite records in 2020, Don’t Look Too Close, a collection of intimate synth-pop and alt-country tunes infused with gorgeous, sublime vocals (I’ve listened to the soaring, melancholy “Eye of the Storm” on repeat this week). We caught up with the indie artist to find out what’s next for 2021, in motherhood and music and beyond. 

Natalie Schlabs (photo by Fairlight Hubbard)

Rockmommy: For those who might not be familiar with your music, how would you describe your sound?

Natalie Schlabs: I like to say that I’m a blend between singer-songwriter, Americana, and Indie. At the heart, I value the lyricism and story that is true to form for most singer-songwriters. I love the timelessness and deep roots and the wide umbrella of Americana music. And more recently, I have been inspired by the interesting sounds and quirks of indie music. 

[SEE RELATED: Getting Close with Natalie Schlabs: Nashville Singer-Songwriter Discusses Life, Music and Motherhood in Quarantine]

Rockmommy: What were the biggest challenges you encountered in the last 12 months? 

Natalie Schlabs: I am trying to stick to a schedule, but with the pandemic and limited childcare, it’s tough. Raising a child is such a ride. So much mystery and exploration every day. But finding time for self can be a huge challenge that I would like to find more time for.

Rockmommy: How did 2020 influence your music and creative process? 

Natalie Schlabs: I have learned a lot more about Pro Tools and producing my own music in 2020, which has been really interesting and fun. I didn’t think that was something I wanted to learn, but now I am fantasizing about producing someone else’s record one day. I think it has made me feel more capable and informed as an artist. Even if I don’t record my own record, I think I can take that knowledge with me into the studio. 

Rockmommy: Any recent or upcoming projects you’d like to share?

Natalie Schlabs: I’m hoping to get into the studio in the near year to record some singles or a small EP. I haven’t decided how I’ll release it, but I’m really looking forward to getting back into the studio. 2019 was the last time I was working on my own music in the studio! 

Rockmommy: What advice do you have on balancing parenthood with creative life? 

Natalie Schlabs: This is SO hard, but I think it’s been helpful to remember that I can make a decision now and then change it later. I can decide something for my music or family life and then change when it’s no longer working. This can keep me from freezing up or feeling stuck.  If something isn’t working, you can change it. Or, you can make a decision now, and then make a different decision later. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

Pierce Freelon’s 2021 to-Do List: Music, Media, and Helping Others

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

The start of every new year is full of hope — I knew this the moment I watched creative renaissance dad Pierce Freelon’s ‘Daddy Daughter Day’ video (featuring J Gunn). We recently caught up with Freelon to talk about his biggest hopes for 2021, and what the perfect summer looks like.

Rockmommy: For those who might not be familiar with your music, how would you describe your sound? 

Pierce Freelon: My sound is millennial Hip Hop head rapping at my home studio with two kids in my lap. Or electronic jazz and soul beats that sample voice memos from my iPhone. My sound is also family-friendly music about inspired by real situations that young Black parents have to deal with. 

Rockmommy: What were the biggest challenges you encountered in the last 12 months?

Pierce Freelon: My biggest challenge in the last 12 months was adjusting my life so I can serve on Durham City Council. As a husband, father, musician and business person I already had my hands full. Taking on a new job virtually (during a Panny) was a heavy lift. But I’m still here!

Rockmommy: How did 2020 influence your music and creative process?

Pierce Freelon: 2020 was the year of virtual collaboration. I’ve worked with so many artists that I never see in person. I’m not used to that. Usually, we get together and vibe out in the studio. These days, I’m emailing tracks, and getting WeTransfer links back full of magic. I kind of dig it. It’s like opening a birthday present. 

Rockmommy: What are you most hopeful for in 2021?

Pierce Freelon: In 2021 I hope to get better every day. I hope to learn from the silence and solitude and slowness of 2020 and make that part of my everyday, intentional practice. 2021 is the year of affirmations and speaking things into existence. What affirmations do you say to yourself every day? 

Rockmommy: If you could plan the perfect summer for 2021, what would that look like?

Pierce Freelon: A perfect summer looks like no one running against me in my re-election bid for City Council! Let me go ahead and speak that into existence right quick 🙂 I was appointed back in August and I’ve been doing a great job (if I must say so myself, lol). Real talk, it would be nice to chill this summer after we approve the city budget and not be in full campaign mode. 

Rockmommy: Any recent or upcoming projects you’d like to share?

Pierce Freelon: One project I’m really excited about is an educational television show for K-3rd graders I’m producing with PBS North Carolina in 2021 called Classroom Connection. This show will be a crucial lifeline for kids, especially in the rural part of our state where schools have been closed and internet is limited. There will be lessons from real public school teachers, music, puppetry, animation and conversations with kids! 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy

Anna Wilson and Monty Powell, on Connecting in Love and Music

By Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Anna Wilson and her husband Monty Powell — who’ve been writing music together practically since the day they met — make collaboration look easy. But the longtime lovebirds, married 20 years, admit there are moments of disharmony. 

Anna Wilson and Monty Powell

“The creative tension is real, and we do bicker about creative vision,” Anna admits to Rockmommy. “But when the work phase passes it’s all about the love and we just go have a nice dinner together.” 

Their chemistry is obvious onstage too. The couple, longtime Nashville dwellers who relocated to Utah a few years ago, are the driving force behind the musical duo Troubadour 77, which infuses gorgeous rock vocal harmonies with Monty’s layered, often intricate, guitar playing and Anna’s piano melodies. As American Songwriter noted, Troubadour 77 came together as a sort of “tribute to the legendary Troubadour club in LA,” where artists of the ’60s and ’70s like Carole King and The Eagles made a name for themselves. 

It’s a beautiful transition from their former life, as a songwriter-and-producer team behind some of the greatest songs performed by stars like Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, and Lady Antebellum.

And while the pandemic put touring on hold, Troubadour 77 still managed to pull together weekly 15-minute Facebook Live-streamed “T77 Squared” concerts. When I asked Monty about them in mid-April — at the tail end of a conversation about which home-recording gear I should buy — he told me the shorter duration of these sets was intentional. A couple could enjoy a glass of wine, listen to a few songs, relax, and then move on to the rest of their night. No strings attached.

We recently caught up with Anna and Monty to learn more about timing, parenthood (they’ve got two daughters), and what’s next in the post-quarantine world. 

Rockmommy: For those who might not be familiar with your music, how would you describe it?

Anna Wilson: I’d say our ‘sound’ captures the spirit of the SoCal Laurel Canyon era of the 70s. Folks like Carole King, Jackson Browne, CSNY and others who graced the stage of Doug Weston’s Troubadour club in West Hollywood. I am continually trying to keep the flame alive of what that community represented musically, lyrically and artistically.

Monty Powell: Organic, classic singer songwriter — pop/rock with an Americana palette. 

Rockmommy: Can you tell us a little but about how you met? 

Anna Wilson: We met backstage at a Diamond Rio concert in Nashville in September 1993. Monty was the band’s producer and I was the band’s publicist. I was trying to sound all cool and deep and told Monty I wanted to make a concept album about the “Seasons”. It’s amazing he continued to talk to me. I swear this was not drug induced!

Rockmommy: Let’s talk about the challenges of 2020 for musicians. What was that like for you two?

Monty Powell: Learning how to entertain over virtual platforms with no audience was hard. 

Anna Wilson: I’d also say learning how to keep our fan base engaged in a meaningful way via social media since we could not tour and interact with them like we normally always have. The reinvention of how to bring quality virtual concerts and content to our followers, and the technical aspects that go along with that pursuit, was a definite learning curve. 

Anna Wilson (Photo credit: Juan Pont Lezica)

Rockmommy: The Facebook Live series was brilliant. How did that come about? 

Anna Wilson: The virtual two-song session that we called “T77 Squared Concerts” was born out of the pandemic and not being able to be out on the road and performing live. With everyone online and screen weary we thought the short format would be welcome. After 6 months of that series, lots of folks mentioned they wanted longer sets so we moved to an hour long, once a month concert that we call The 777 Show that featured 7 songs on the 7th of the month at 7pm EST. Both series have been great but in some ways the virtual concert is starting to feel like it’s run its course. Everyone is fatigued by the online virtual experience from just all content in general. In light of this observation, we are doing our last episode on March 7, 2021, and that will complete a one-year cycle of virtual concerts for us. We will still do some special episodes of virtual concerts but just not a regular series and we hope to get back to live performing and touring by Fall 2021.

Rockmommy: How did the past year’s challenges influence your music and creative process? 

Anna Wilson: We definitely wrote and released songs that matched the moments we were in and the experiences we were all collectively going through. Troubadour 77 wound up adding two bonus tracks, The Love Forward Project, to our existing album Revolution & Redemption to create a Deluxe release. These songs were my artistic and creative reaction to the virus, social justice conversation, the political climate and other issues that were swirling throughout 2020.

Monty Powell: It definitely pushed our writing into a more socially active space with more commentary on current events.

Rockmommy: Any recent or upcoming projects you’d like to share? 

Anna Wilson: Monty and I are writing a play similar in format of what Bruce Springsteen did with his “Springsteen on Broadway.” It will weave in songs spanning our careers along with a unique and compelling narrative that ties it all together. We hope to have it written by the end of this winter, rehearse it in the spring, record it over the summer and find a way to begin touring it in 2022.  

Rockmommy: What advice do you have on balancing parenthood with creative life? 

Monty Powell: Involve your kids in your creative process. Make them understand that it’s not a mystery, that is mostly just hard work ethic. 

Anna Wilson: Just because you are spending time helping your kids do homework or driving them in carpool doesn’t mean you aren’t feeding your creative soul. In fact, it may be the very portal that you draw inspiration from and where your next song idea or melody comes from. Creativity can exist in the midst of the chaos. In fact, it is often sparked in the midst of it. When it hits, grab it, write it down until you do get some quiet time to refocus on it. It will still be there for you to access when you do. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

The 6 Most Rock n’ Roll Moments of Super Bowl LV

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Super Bowl LV promised to be exciting, with conversations about #GOAT quarterback Tom Brady (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) versus younger hotshot quarterback Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs) dominating every corner of the sports internet. 

But yesterday’s game was also pretty groundbreaking, music-wise, too.

Here are the five most rock n’ roll moments of Super Bowl LV. 

Miley Cyrus and Joan Jett. Before Sunday, everyone was pumped for the showdown between 43-year-old Brady and 25-year-old Mahomes. But I was more excited over another convergence of classic and new talent: the pre-game show with Miley Cyrus and Joan Jett.Miley Cyrus might be vying for the title of Rock n’ Roll princess, but Joan Jett with her killer guitar playing, raspy vocals and punk rock legacy, is already The Queen. Seeing Joan and Miley work it on stage, during their duet ‘Bad Karma’ off Miley’s ‘Plastic Hearts’ album was eye candy, ear candy, and just the sweetest treat. 

[SEE RELATED: 7 Reasons I’m Pumped About Miley Cyrus’ New Record ‘Plastic Hearts’]

Billy Idol’s ‘White Wedding’ 

The performance of 65-year-old Billy Idol’s most famous tune is deserving a paragraph of its own. And as much as I love Miley, I kind of wanted her to step down so I could experience Billy Idol, solo, in his element. His voice and his energy were spot on, and his band killed it.

H.E.R. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

H.E.R’s ‘America the Beautiful’. H.E.R. is rock music’s new Renaissance woman. She can sing, play guitar, and perform. Her music, a blending of classic rock, R&B, reggae, and other styles — is beyond definition. And in September, H.E.R. became the first black woman with her own signature guitar — a gorgeous “chrome glow” Fender Stratocaster. She blew me away with that guitar solo.

[SEE RELATED: H.E.R.’s New Signature Guitar with Fender is All I Want to Think About]

That Block by Ali Marpet

Every game features a handful of plays worthy of “we will rock you” chants. A key block by Buccaneers offensive guard Ali Marpet in the third quarter enabled running back Leonard Fournette to dash 27 yards to touchdown, securing Tampa Bay’s 31-9 win. So why are we including a brilliant sports play in a #rockmommy blog (and highlighting an offensive guard instead of a running back or QB)? Because Marpet is a rock n’ roll kid, the son of musician, Mamapalooza creator, and Museum of Motherhood founder Joy Rose. 

[SEE RELATED: Joy Rose, on Mamapalooza, Motherhood and Turning up the Volume]

The Weeknd’s weird, cool halftime show

Everyone in my inner circle knows I am obsessed with The Weeknd, whose moody, cool tunes, bad boy persona and Stevie Wonder-level vocals has me swooning every time. During the halftime show, he moved from ‘Starboy’ to his classic ‘The Hills’ (my favorite) and ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’ to his newer tracks, including the danceable, New Wave-y ‘Blinding Lights’ with such finesse, that I didn’t feel put off by the weirdness of his bandaged dancers. I didn’t think about social statements or symbolism. I just lost myself in the music and the performance. 

Female Coaches FTW

Rock n’ roll, done right, is a break from the status quo. So is coaching football, when you’re a woman! This year, Buccaneers coaches Maral Javadifar and Lori Locust made history as the first female coaches to win a Super Bowl. Sarah Thomas also made history as the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl, working as the down judge. We think that’s pretty epic. 

There were some funny commercials too (though the State Farm ad with Drake and Patrick Mahomes was a bit over-played). But it was the music and rock n’ roll moments stretched across seven hours, that made this Bowl one of my favorites. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy

Laurie Berkner, Rockstar to Preschoolers Everywhere, Talks Live-streaming and New Tunes for 2021

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

So many parents have a Laurie Berkner memory that gives them the warm and fuzzies. I have several — the nights I’d play “Bubbles” and my then-toddler sons would gleefully splash along in their bath, or the time I played “Silly Brushing Song” to motivate my older kid to spend more than 15 seconds at the sink, brushing his teeth. My favorite two tunes, hands down, are “We are The Dinosaurs” and “Monster Boogie,” but my kids love “Superhero” the most.  

Laurie Berkner (Photo by Jayme Thornton)

And even as my kids grow older and discover grown-up music, they’ve still got a special place in their hearts (and on their playlists) for Laurie Berkner. It’s a good thing, too, since we really relied on artists like Laurie to livestream like crazy since March 2020, the month that things began to change. 

[SEE RELATED: Superhero Mom Laurie Berkner: 20 Years of Making Cool Tunes in the Ever-Evolving Kids Music Soundscape]

Laurie’s daily Facebook Live concert series, which featured singalongs and stories and a ton of cool virtual content, was a much-needed reprieve from “homeschool” with mom and dad for my 5-year-old son. And while things aren’t back to “normal” or “2019-ish” quite yet, Laurie’s cooking up some awesome new tunes. 

We recently caught up with the performer and mom to find out what’s next. 

Rockmommy: What were the biggest challenges you encountered in the last 12 months?

Laurie Berkner: I know there are many people who have had many more devastating experiences than I have over the last year, but for me, being a parent during this pandemic has been very emotionally distressing. My teenage daughter has been trying to find ways to handle the difficulties of remote learning, being separated from her friends and teachers, and missing all of the hands-on aspects of school that made it fun and challenging, but as I witness her struggling, not being able to personally help her or do much about it, has been quite painful for me. 

As far as my career goes, all of my live performances since last March have, of course, been either canceled or postponed. Suddenly having to wear so many hats (videographer, photographer, recording engineer, set designer, administrative assistant, etc.) on top of running my business and being the performer and composer/musician, has been exhausting and quickly became unsustainable. Luckily, I have an incredible person as my COO who decided to buy an RV with her partner, and they moved into my driveway in July. This has meant that I actually have help now with a lot of what I was trying to do entirely by myself — and it has been amazing.

Rockmommy: How did 2020 influence your music and creative process?

Laurie Berkner: In response to the fact that schools were closed in the spring, I started doing daily Facebook Live concerts for a couple of months. The interaction with people all over the country (and the world, actually) was really inspiring — and I wrote songs that I might not have otherwise. I also finished an album that I had started before the pandemic, doing the final recordings remotely. That was a harder process, and I found myself paring down some of the instrumentation of a few of the songs, as well as singing some of my own background vocals in order to simplify things. I went through intense periods of creativity and intense periods of feeling like I had nothing in me. It has been an exhausting, roller coaster of a year.

[SEE RELATED: Laurie Berkner’s Daily Livestream is Exactly What Kids and Homeschooling Parents Need Right Now

Rockmommy: What are you most hopeful for in 2021?

Laurie Berkner: I am hoping that my daughter will be able to go back to school in a somewhat “normal” way. I hope that I’ll be able to hug the people I work with and that I will be able to make live music with the people in my band again!! And I hope that as a country we truly start to hold each other accountable for the racism that has been built into our culture and make meaningful, conscious, changes towards equity.

Rockmommy: Any recent or upcoming projects you’d like to share?

Laurie Berkner: I have been doing Livestream Family Concerts every six weeks that will be continuing into 2021. The next one is on Valentine’s Day (tickets at live.laurieberkner.com). Also, the album I mentioned that I just completed is called Let’s Go! and it will be released on March 5th (pre-sale starts on February 5th).

Rockmommy: What advice do you have on balancing parenthood with creative life?

Laurie Berkner: I’m basically still trying to figure this one out, but I do find that allowing myself to explore and enjoy my own creativity while I’m with my daughter, as well as when I find time to be alone, means that I almost end up having enough time to do both. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy