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Stage Moms: Celebrating Local Women Who Juggle the Family and Music Life

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Being a musician is a balancing act. Along with late nights and erratic, demanding schedules, it often means running a business, working other jobs to make ends meet and squeezing in creativity, not to mention a social life.

Imagine adding the role of “mom” to the equation. There are a few dozen women in Kansas City who juggle their creative passions with the joys and responsibilities of motherhood. In honor of Mother’s Day, we’ve highlighted a handful of these sensational ladies.

Havilah Bruders + Georgia and Weston

Havilah Bruders and family | Photo submitted by artist
Havilah Bruders has one of the most authoritative voices in Kansas City, but she also sings with an empathic sincerity that takes listeners to emotional depths. It’s no surprise that she grew up singing in church and with her family, carrying on the tradition with her husband (and musical counterpart in Cadillac Flambé) Kris and their children, Georgia, 7, and Weston, 5.

What makes you a proud mom?
My kids see everyone. I’m proud of their passion for life and their compassion for others.

Do you encourage Georgia and Weston to follow a musical path like their parents did? Do they have any musical inclinations?
I think we encourage them musically mostly by being musical — it’s a way of living for us, singing and playing around the house. All my relatives sing together, too. They are both great singers but Georgia is more bold about it. She belts out vibrato like a little opera singer. Weston will sing when he thinks you’re not focused on him, but he really likes to drum and dance. Our kids attend some of our shows — usually festivals — and sometimes they come to Here’s to the Roots, the musician appreciation showcase we host weekly. Also, they’ve been going to Rural Grit with us since they were tiny. At those two weekly shows they get to take the stage and perform, so that’s had a huge impact.

How do you and Kris manage being musicians and raising children?
We have really great friends and family that help out. For Kris and I, performing is a good part of how we make a living. So instead of needing sitters in daytime hours, we usually need them in the evenings. It can get tricky, and sometimes I don’t know how it’s gonna work out, but it usually does.

How will you spend your Mother’s Day?
We’ll go to church to hear our kids sing for the mothers and later we’ll be at Here’s to the Roots at the Dubliner. So bring your mothers to a beautiful place to hear live music from 4 to 8 p.m.!

Three to five songs that hold special significance to you and your kids.
The “Buckle Up for Safety” song — my grandparents and parents used to sing this song whenever we’d get in a car.
“Georgia” — One of the reasons we named our daughter Georgia was because of this great classic that Ray Charles made timeless. I’ll always sing this one at my jazz gigs.
“Take Me Out To the Ballgame” — They just like this one and always ask me to sing it.
“What A Friend We Have in Jesus” — My dad passed away almost two years ago and he used to sing this to them, so I sing it to them now.
“Always” — This is a perfect song to sing to your loved ones. It was sung at my grandparents 50th anniversary party. The lyrics are “I’ll be loving you, always / When the things you planned, need a helping hand, I will understand… Always / Not for just an hour. Not for just a day. Not for just a year, but always.”

Kristin Conkright + William

Kristin Conkright and son William, 11 | Photo submitted by artist
Though her son William is 11, Kristin Conkright has been an integral part of several bands for a couple decades — including previous acts Onward Crispin Glover, Federation of Horsepower and Knife Crime. As bassist for KC’s dark-wave darlings Emmaline Twist, she pushes the band’s sound forward with a thick, distinctive low end. 

What makes you a proud mom?
What makes me proudest as a mom is his kindness. He is a good-natured guy all around and has extra patience and gentleness with younger kids. He’s also a good student and exhibits great sportsmanship on his multiple sports teams. And he’s really funny. There is a lot to be proud of.

Does William have any musical inclinations?
He played cello at school this year and has a knack for drums, but so far it hasn’t been a priority. He loves music, so maybe focus will come later if he decides he wants to pursue it. Right now he is really enjoying baseball and that is fine by me.

Does he enjoy seeing you perform?
He’s pretty used to going to shows. When he was little, he thought that all parents played in bands. He likes to go see music but would usually rather be doing other things. He does think it’s pretty cool that some local stations play Emmaline Twist songs.

How have you managed being a musician and raising a child?
I didn’t start playing again until he was 2, so that wasn’t a problem when he was a baby. The toughest part for me is having to be selective about accepting shows. Time with him is valuable and I don’t feel good about staying out late or missing time with him. It still happens sometimes, but I try to minimize it.

How will you spend your Mother’s Day?
This is going to be a great Mother’s Day. I am graduating from UMKC this weekend, so we will have lots of family in town. We will probably just hang out and go to William’s soccer game.

Three to five songs that hold special significance to you and William.
The Kinks, The Police and The Clash always have us singing in the car. Also, “Lonely Days” by The Bee Gees.

Tess Cuevas + Cruz Ignacio Bond

Tess Cuevas and son Cruz, 10 months old | Photo submitted by artist
Cruz Ignacio Bond has a vibrant musical lineage that leads back to his great-grandmother Teresa Cuevas, who formed one of the first all-female mariachi groups in the country, Mariachi Estrella. Her granddaughters, Tess and Maria, performed in the band for 10 years before forging their own mariachi- and rock-infused sound with Maria the Mexican. Last June, Tess became a new mom to baby Cruz.

What makes you a proud mom?
He is changing so fast these days. Crawling, feeding himself, and starting to walk. I am so proud of how curious and determined he is. He also is very laid back, which makes being a mom pretty rad.

Has Cruz seen you perform? Do you play music for him, and do you want him to follow a musical path like you did?
He doesn’t make it to a lot of my gigs because they’re always past his bedtime. I like to say he’s already tired of hearing me sing since he listened to me in the womb for almost 10 months. Before he was born I thought it would be cool if he played the trumpet. I LOVE the trumpet, especially in mariachi bands. Now however, we are thinking we might have a little drummer on our hands. My parents even found a drum my grandmother used in the band for him to play with.

How do you manage being a musician and raising an infant?
The only way I’m able to still perform is my family — during gigs he is either with my husband or parents. I have the most supportive family circle. My parents, husband, sister Maria and brother-in-law Garrett Nordstrom help me on a daily basis. Right before gigs I can get pretty stressed out about leaving Cruz and figuring out the logistics of the night — food, bottles, bedtime, etc. — but once I’m there and playing, I feel pretty good that I’m still able to perform as a mom

How will you spend your Mother’s Day?
I will be with my beautiful mother in Lawrence having a margarita! Maybe two!

Three to five songs that hold special significance to you and Cruz.
We mostly sing nursery rhymes and lullabies these days, but I do sing him the song “Gema” often, which means gemstone. It’s an old song in Spanish that my grandmother LOVED, and it will be on our upcoming album. It is so very beautiful. I’m definitely feeling the pressure of teaching Cruz about his heritage through our music.

Katelyn Jamison + Donovan

The newest mom on our list, Katelyn Jamison, gave birth to her son Donovan at the beginning of the year. Though she’s only performed once since he was born — singing and dancing with Talking Heads’ tribute band Found A Job (she’s also a member of Claire and the Crowded Stage) — Katelyn and her musician husband Brent have found plenty of opportunities to introduce the wonders of music to their newborn boy.

What makes you a proud mom?
He is reaching and grabbing, and almost rolled over today! And he’s doubled his birth weight.

Do you want or plan to encourage Donovan to follow a musical path like his parents did? Do you and Brent play music for him?
He hasn’t seen us perform but we have played and sung a lot for him already. He’s very interested in the guitar for sure! We’ve talked about starting him on piano early — it’s such a foundational skill and good for the brain in general. I think kids who grow up in musical households typically show interest in it, but we want to give him the opportunity to try lots of things besides music too… except football.

How do you manage being a musician and raising an infant?
Found A Job has already had one show, when Donovan was eight weeks old. The show and the rehearsals for it were the first times I’d really been away from him. It was hard, but I thought if I said no to the show then I’d let the whole band down, and I thought of moms who have to go back to work or have other obligations come up in their baby’s first months. In the end it wasn’t that hard to do for one night, but I don’t really see myself committing to a weekly rehearsal schedule again, or at least not until Donovan is much older. On the other hand, I’m still sort of still in the haze and he needs me so much; who knows how I’ll feel about it in six months.

Another issue for my family in particular is that Brent is in the same bands I’m in. Probably our best option right now is starting a family band! Found a Job’s next show is coming up in July, and by then I think Donovan will be more independent from me, and we visit his grandma a lot so when she babysits he hopefully remembers her.

How will you spend your Mother’s Day?
I don’t know! I’ll have to see what my boys (I love saying that) plan for me. Donovan is pretty much a mama’s boy so I won’t be getting the day off. I’d miss him anyway!

Three to five songs that hold special significance to you and Donovan.
“Big Rock Candy Mountain” has become our bathtime/bedtime ritual song. I sing it and Brent plays guitar for him every night. In the hospital my fried brain blanked on lullabies so the first song he heard was “A Long December,” but he was born January 8 so it sorta made sense! And I like to think he loves “Hamilton” as much as I do because he heard it so much in the womb. I even went to see it last summer on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s last day; I hope he thinks that’s cool someday.

Kasey Rausch + Kaya and Kai

Kasey Rausch with son Kai, 19 and daughter Kaya, 20 | photos submitted by artist
Chances are, if you’re in KC and enjoy live music, you’ve probably seen a member of the Rausch family perform. One of the city’s great roots songwriters is Kasey Rausch, a fourth-generation music maker who has played for more than two decades. She’s mama to 20-year-old daughter Kaya and 19-year-old son Kai, and you can catch her with The Country Duo and The Naughty Pines.

What makes you a proud mom?
I’m a recent empty nester, which was incredibly painful as the time approached. Now that it’s here, watching my kids kick ass in the world with their confidence, compassion and fantastic senses of humor make me an incredibly proud mama. My kids are healthy, happy and pursuing their dreams — everything I’ve wanted for them.

Have you encouraged your kids to follow a musical path like you did? Do they have any musical inclinations?
My daughter loves live music and has been a solid support system in my music-making. I never pushed her to make music — encouraged, occasionally, but never pushed. I figured she was surrounded enough by instruments that if she wanted to pursue it, she had every opportunity. As it is, she’d much rather be having a blast in the crowd or walking around a music festival listening to campfire pickin’. She’s now pursuing a career in fashion merchandising and marketing.

My son played guitar off and on from the time he was about 9 or 10. He even got noticed by Les Claypool and Mike Dillon when he was busking at Wakarusa around the age of 11. He ended up opening for Split Lip Rayfield that night, and shortly after played his first gig at Mike Kelly’s Westsider. He played upright bass through all of his high school years, but at the moment has put the instruments down to focus on a career in auto mechanics. Bonus: He left his Marshall half-stack at home for my rock and roll dreams! Ha!

How have you managed being a musician and raising children?
Raising kids and being a happy mama was incredibly challenging as a gigging musician. When I became pregnant at a young age, I knew I could still pursue music, but I’d have to be a little more patient. I went through a couple of burnout phases; getting home at 2 or 3 a.m. and waking up at 6:30 a.m. to get everyone to school made for a crabby mama. Ultimately, it helped me learn how to set my own boundaries and say, “Thanks, but no can do,” to some gig offers that came my way. It would have been a lot tougher without an amazingly supportive and trusting spouse walking with me through it all.

My kids gave me the inspiration to work hard, surround myself with great people and do my best to make smart choices. I knew I had to lead by example. If I told them to follow their dreams, but didn’t do the same for myself, then my advice could only go so far.

How will you spend your Mother’s Day?
Well, it’s a busy day! I’ll first host River Trade Radio with my BFFs Mikal Shapiro and Scott Stanton, then attend the wedding of some dear friends, and end the day at my mama’s house in Parkville, along with my 90-year-old Tiny Grama, having a simple dinner and watching a movie with my sister and our kids.

Three to five songs that hold special significance to you and your kids.
“Within You Without You” by The Beatles — Kaya was born to that song.
“Moonshadow” by Cat Stevens — a bedtime lullaby I would sing.
“Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” by Tammy Wynette — one of Kaya’s favorites that I sing with The Naughty Pines.
“Across the Universe” by The Beatles — This reminds me of both of my kids. It’s the song that 6-year-old Kaya sang in the backseat of the car when we moved back to KC after a stint in northern Missouri, and it’s one of the first songs Kai and I learned to play together on guitar.
“This One’s For the Girls” by Martina McBride, my daughter’s home girl.

Sara Teasley + Cheyanne

Sara & Chris Teasley w/daughter Cheyanne | photo submitted by artist
If you could make a list of KC’s most fun drummers to watch, Sara Teasley’s name would appear toward the top. With The Cave Girls and The Heavy Figs (which includes husband Chris), she can simultaneously pack a primordial punch or turn heads by flashing a smile and a bouncy pop groove. Sara and Chris adopted their daughter Cheyanne when she was 16 years old; she’s now 19.

Give me a little background on how you became a mom.
As part of my job at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, I was called to escort a very grumpy 14-year-old girl through the museum. During our walk, she asked if the empty wall space above the gift shop could be rented. I said no, but asked why. She wanted to put up a billboard to advertise that she was up for adoption. My heart kinda stopped, but I kept the conversation casual. She explained that she really wanted to go to art school, and felt that if a rich family saw the billboard, they’d adopt her and send her to school. I took the opportunity to explain that there were other ways to get into art school besides a rich family. The rest of our conversation was about scholarships, grants, portfolios and student loans. At the end of our walk, she told me her name was Cheyanne, and, just in case I had any friends that might like to adopt a teenage girl, she was with a Kansas foster care system called SRS (now KVC).

The next week she came back to my office; she was taking a Saturday art class at the museum, and had a favor to ask. I was sure she wanted me to walk her through the museum again, but instead she asked the question that set our lives on a completely unexpected path — “Will you please adopt me?” That was a little over 5 years ago; in some ways it feels like a lifetime, and in some ways it feels like a minute. The journey through foster care, the road to Chey’s adoption at age 16, and life after adoption day would be much harder to encapsulate. It has been the greatest gift in my life. One lesson learned: Show up for work!

What makes you a proud mom?
No one amazes or inspires me as much as Cheyanne. She’s more driven than anyone I know, and at a time in her life when her desire for knowledge is pushing her forward at such a rate that it’s hard to keep up. Chey is extremely gifted in the arts, and also incredibly funny — and I do mean an absolute cut-up. I am so proud of her worldview and enjoy that she can keep our family laughing. I love that when she wants something, she goes for it. She sets things in motion.

Have you encouraged Cheyanne to follow a musical path like her parents did? Does she have any musical inclinations?
I want Chey to do what she feels is right for her. She is an incredibly practiced guitar player, and an awesome songwriter, but if playing/writing music doesn’t make her as happy as it does me, it doesn’t need to be a priority for her. It certainly makes me happy to hear her play, but it’s her happiness that should determine the path she follows.

Do you and Cheyanne ever play music together?
Yes, but it’s been a little while — she’s been super focused on school. Chris and I have backed her up whenever she’s needed a band, and we’ll always support her that way, whenever she wants.

How will you spend your Mother’s Day?
Most likely with our extended Kansas City family. Nothing’s been planned, but I think it’s just assumed that we’ll be together. We always find ourselves enjoying each other’s company on Mother’s Day.

Three to five songs that hold special significance to you and Cheyanne.
“Run to Me” by The Bee Gees — A big, everybody-sing-out-loud-in-the-car song.
“Better Things” by The Kinks — The Heavy Figs cover it. The whole family (bandmates included) loves it.
“Power of Soul — Live at the Fillmore East” by Jimi Hendrix & Band of Gypsys
The following three were on repeat, coming out of Chey’s room for weeks on end. I will never forget these songs: “I’m Not Awake Yet” by Rory Gallagher, “Chinatown” by Thin Lizzy (Chey worked out this guitar solo for her first live performance) and “Wild One” by Thin Lizzy.

—Michelle Bacon wonders if her mother will be reading this. When pondering her mom’s favorite music, she’s reminded of The Beatles, Elvis and boring adult contemporary pop. Two out of three ain’t bad. 


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