Words: Eve Watling
BEYONCÉ DIDN’T JUST announce her pregnancy: she made it into a record-breaking moment in the history of pop culture. Her iconic Instagram post framed her as a 21st-century Virgin Mary. Under a translucent green veil, surrounded by multi-coloured roses, the post provoked a slew of think-pieces and garnered 11 million likes. An extension of her Lemonade-era vision, it is an exploration and celebration of black femininity.
In recent years, we’ve seen motherhood play an increasing part in the musical aesthetic of female artists. M.I.A. famously demonstrated this when performing T.I.’s single, “Swagga Like Us” at the 2009 Grammy Awards, while she was nine months pregnant. At the awards ceremony, she revealed her huge belly in a polka-dot mini dress and rock-star shades. Surrounded by four of the world’s most famous rappers, she continued her anti-establishment aesthetic and ethos.
Musicians are always pioneering ways to combine parenthood and music, so that the mother isn’t short-changed. Jessica Moss and Efrim Menuck, of Canadian post-rock group Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, are parents to eight-year-old Ezra Steamtrain Moss Menuck. The 2013 documentary Come Worry With Us! follows their lifestyle on the road. On tours, their son accompanies them, the band evenly sharing their profits, along with paying for a nanny and a tour bus to ensure that the family that tours together stays together.
We see motherhood shape musical output, as well. Björk had the first of two children at 20, and her experiences have shaped her artistic vision since. The nets of maternal love permeate her 2004 albums Medúlla and 2011’s Biophilia. Mothers in the music industry have never seemed so powerful – yet when I sent out a tweet seeking musicians who are also mothers, a flood of women responded, willing to share their experiences. It instantly became clear that the experiences of famous musical mothers – such as Björk and Beyoncé – are not representative of the lives of ordinary women.
Read more on Issue 1 of GIRL FIEND, which you can purchase here.