Joy Rose, on Mamapalooza, Motherhood and Turning up the Volume

By Rew Starr

JOY ROSE is one of a kind. I knew I had a unique connection with her before we even met because my middle name is “Joy” and my Grandmother’s name was Rose!

After meeting at a MaMaPaLooZa gig on the waterfront on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, I knew I was hooked. It was my first time joining this festival, I felt so honored to be counted as a mom that rocked! I found my new religion with Joy at the helm… she has continued to inspire, celebrate and give Moms all the glitter, respect and pizazz they deserve. 

I recently caught up with this mom of four — where Zena (26), Brody (31) and Blaze (29), are gathering in Florida to support their brother, Ali Marpet (27), Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive lineman, who is heading to the Super Bowl. 

Joy Rose and daughter Zena, 2003 (Joy is also mother to Ali, Brody, and Blaze)

Rockmommy: What have you been doing these days?

Joy Rose: I am greatly looking forward to a better and brighter 2021! I spent the summer farming a remote plot of land during the summer season, and then trying to survive the ‘vid’ as I circled back to New York, all while mentoring interns at the Museum of Motherhood, and cultivating personal creativity whenever possible.

Rockmommy: Meeting you for me was love at first sight with MAMAPALOOZA. How did you come up with this concept?

Joy Rose: The feeling is mutual. The concept for Mamapalooza was born out of multiple brainstorming sessions with friends about how to address the absent voices of women in the arts at the time. I write about this in my chapter in Motherhood and Music for Demeter Press (2018). One of the things that made Mamapalooza so amazing for me was that I was (and remain) an authentic fan of each of the women I promoted. 

Their courage, fortitude, creativity, and ability wowed me again and again. We all came together at a very special time in the world when our generation of women, born and raised out of the feminist movement of the 1970s, emerged into motherhood in the 80s and 90s believing Helen Reddy’s anthem “we are women, hear us roar.” 

We were all hungry to connect, poised to make noise, and ready for the challenges that came from both the personal and professional world. 

Joy Rose and Zena, 2019

Rockmommy: You have been a pioneer for moms in my eyes for Museum of Motherhood, can you elaborate on this endeavor?

Joy Rose: Women have a sad history of being “disappeared”. We make advances, get written out of the books, and the patriarchy goes marching on. MOM is committed to putting Motherhood on the map by elucidating the art, science, and history of m/others. We’ve done a LOT to champion the art and the scholarship of motherhood in the last 20 years. By curating these knowledge(s), I aim to keep these advances and reflections available to those interested in the subject. It’s important for me to also state that I am as invested in championing the subject as I am in deconstructing persistent and damaging stereotypes. There is no one perfect mother. There is no perfect family. We are all on a journey of discovery.

Rockmommy: Are you making any new music?

Joy Rose: I’m writing songs for my new grandbaby, but that’s about it. I am still very interested in hearing other people’s music though, so send it to me!

Rockmommy: What about playing out? Do you see ever in the future?

Joy Rose: I am currently gestating on an art/music/performance project. It needs to be something visible and international and I’m starting to mentally gather people. However, let me also be honest that it is very difficult to do everything and the museum keeps me extremely busy.

Rockmommy: Tell us something we don’t know about you?

Joy Rose: I’m very shy. It takes everything in my soul to step out into the public arena as I am extremely insecure. I also went back to graduate school in 2014 earning my Master’s in Mother Studies from the Women and Gender Studies Dept. at CUNY The Graduate Center in NY (2015). 

Rockmommy: What’s the greatest part about being a rockmommy?

Joy Rose: Making noise. Raising your voice and speaking your truth is the most important thing! It’s the equivalent of shining your soul light. Don’t die with the music still inside you. I dragged myself onto the stage, trembling, doubting, and ultimately victorious by standing with my two feet on the ground and lifting my throat to the stars and then sharing those victories with others.

Rew Starr is an actor and musician in who lives in New York.  

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