Sue Drew, Music Publisher

Image Credit: Sue Drew

A Solo Mom finds success in the music industry

Born and raised in Southern California, University of Southern California graduate Sue Drew is the quintessential fresh-faced California girl. She’s also the poster child for solo motherhood. She’s successfully raised her daughter, Catherine Jones (15), while ascending the creative and corporate ladder in the über-competitive world of music—and she found her happy ending in the process.

Currently the general manager of creative and acquisitions at Kobalt Music Publishing, Drew is responsible for managing Kobalt’s growing roster by signing songwriters, acquiring catalogues, and finding creative opportunities, as well as pitching songs, facilitating collaborations, and exploring film and TV opportunities. Prior to this, Drew worked in artists and repertoire (A&R) for more than 20 years and held executive positions at Elektra Records, Chrysalis Records/EMI, and Reprise Records.

She met her current husband at a party celebrating her divorce from her daughter’s father.

She chatted with ESME about her work, being a mom, and finding joy.

What musicians are you excited about right now?

I just signed the Lionel Richie catalogue. That’s a big one. I’m excited about a young songwriter I’m developing named Jackson Morgan who is a tremendous top-liner. And I signed two bands that I think are amazing: The Punch Brothers and The Lone Bellow. Oh, and I signed Giorgio Moroder for his new album. Super fun.

Can you recommend any resources for Solo Moms wanting to get into the music industry?

The ASCAP Expo is an incredible resource. It’s a three-day conference that takes place in Los Angeles in April where they have songwriting panels, master sessions, and mentoring—an amazing experience. Take advantage of these opportunities to connect and learn. If you’re going to invest in a sitter, this would be the time.

When did you become a Solo Mom?

I was briefly married to a musician turned TV show-runner. We broke up around 2002 when Catherine was two, but it took many years for the divorce to be final.

Did you find that being a Solo Mom impacted your career?

Being a mom in general impacted my career. When I had my daughter, I quit working full time and started doing consulting. I had already been in the business for twenty years so I had that flexibility. I was able to work from home and take her to and from school, lessons, and playdates. In all honesty, I don’t know how much help I got from my husband to begin with, so it wasn’t that much different.

How are you managing now with a teenager?

It became more difficult when I went back to work full time. Catherine was nine, and I needed to hire someone to drive her around and stay with her until I got home from work. And that’s still the case because she’s not able to drive yet. In a pinch, [my husband] Jon will pick her up.

When you went from being married to being a Solo Mom, did you feel a shift in your community?

Yes, definitely. It was far more isolating for me during that time because I was living in Lake Tahoe for the first two to three years. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I didn’t have family nearby. So it was just me and a toddler. It was lonely. When I moved back to Los Angeles, my community became other single moms.

Has being a Solo Mom posed any detriment to furthering your career?

I manage it as best I can. I’ve been fortunate to work for people that have children and understand the obligation.

Was there a defining moment that drove home the realization that you were raising a child on your own?

The worst would have to be when we were robbed. I came home from picking Catherine up at camp and they were still in the house. They ran out the back. I truly didn’t know what to do or where to take her. She needed to spend the night somewhere. I had this feeling of, “Oh my goodness: I’m alone in this house with this seven-year-old girl and there were robbers just in it.” The capper was when I got my cable bill and they had ordered porn. One was called, “Hot Moms and their Sexy Daughters.” Can you believe it?!

What are you the most proud of as a Solo Mom?

I’m proud that my daughter is a very solid, consistent, easy-going, flexible, and wonderful person. Raising her is probably the most important thing I’ve done. And she is so far, so good.

What’s your favorite solo parenting tip?

I think letting her help me in the kitchen is a good thing to do because I’m a control freak and I like to do it all myself. But letting her be involved in things is my best tip—so she learns how to do things on her own and doesn’t need me to do everything for her.

E.G. Daily: A Winning Voice

Image via s_bukley / Shutterstock.com

E.G. Daily, voice of Rugrats’ Tommy Pickles and participant on The Voice, shares her optimistic approach to work and solo parenting

E.G. Daily has starred in movies, topped the charts as a singer/songwriter, is the voice of Tommy Pickles from Rugrats, and has voiced other notable characters. In 2013, Daily sauntered onto the stage of The Voice and blew everyone away with her rendition of “Breathe,” joining Team Blake after the performance. Yet Daily’s greatest success is solo-mothering daughters Hunter (19) and Tyson (16). Seriously, how many kids can say their mom is a Powerpuff Girl?

Which career came first—singing or acting?

It’s really one career with all sorts of tentacles. It all goes back to my voice.

When I was young I’d make up pretend voices. And I loved to sing. I taught myself how to play the guitar so I could sing and write songs. I starred in the school musicals. Then right after high school, I started booking movies.

But no matter what I was doing, I was singing and developing my voice. My voice had been so developed as a singer, and my acting so developed as an actor, that the voice-over made sense. It contorted everything together into animation, radio, TV, and commercials.

How did you land in the voice-over business?

I was doing a musical about female wrestlers. The play involved my character’s voice at different ages. Jeff Danis saw me at a performance and told me I should pursue voice-over. He’s still my agent to this day.

But I did not do the play for any reason other than I wanted to be singing. My motives were clean. And I ended up getting all these accolades, getting a record deal, breaking into voice-over. All these great things happened because I did something solely because I loved it. I talk about this in my seminars.

When and how did you become a Solo Mom?

I always had a feeling I would be a single mom. There was too much pressure to meet guys. At 32 I decided to do it myself. I made the plan with my doctor. The pressure was off. Then I went to a barbecue, met this guy, and five weeks later got married in Vegas. I got knocked up on my wedding night. Completely unplanned!

I loved him. We had two kids. But he had a problem with drugs—so I ultimately left him. I knew it wasn’t healthy for the kids and me. Years later he got sober, and over time we learned to care about each other. Now he’s my best friend. It was painful at first, but I feel blessed that I got way more from the universe than I’d asked.

How did you manage being in a creative field while solo parenting?

I could do voice-over and bring the babies with me. I literally nursed while I was working. If I was working remotely, I could have a baby on the boob and they never knew. I did not sacrifice anything to take care of my kids.

Was there a defining moment that drove home you were raising kids alone?

My youngest had baby asthma. I’d have to grab both babies, throw them in the car, and rush to the hospital. I cried all the time because I never slept. I’d have one baby on the boob and the other on a nebulizer, and I would move my arms around like an octopus, grabbing this and that. That’s when I decided to ask for help. My family was amazing. If I had $80, I’d hire someone. Peace at any cost.

Can you recommend resources for women trying to break into voice-over or music?

My voice-over seminar is great and teaches a spiritual approach. As for singing, if you love it, sing! Take lessons. Do open mics. Bigger things will start happening.

What are you most proud of as a Solo Mom?

I’m proud of the work I’ve done on myself so I could be the parent I wanted for my girls. I didn’t follow the pattern and I think my kids are amazing because of it. I taught them to believe that if life alters things, it’s for the better. It’s not happening to you, it’s happening for you. There are no rules—it’s only what is beautiful and fantastic. Having a miserable married couple as parents is not fantastic, as opposed to pure mama love. I want my kids to not just tolerate—but to lean into all joy.

What’s your favorite single-parenting tip?

Write little notes with beautiful affirmations. Color them up and sparkle them out and put them in their lunch box and backpacks. “You’re beautiful.” “You are magical.” “You are everything I could have ever dreamed I’d want for a kid.”

Music-Publishing Powerhouse, Wende Crowley, Talks About Her Experience in the Industry

Photo Credit: Wende Crowley

Kathleen Laccinole interviews Wende Crowley, Senior Vice President of Film and TV at Sony/ATV Music, about being a Solo Mom in the music business

Music-publishing powerhouse, Wende Crowley works at Sony/ATV Music—the company that controls copyrights for more than two million of our favorite songs by artists such as The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Kanye West, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga, to name a few. She is a Solo Mom with the dream job of music supervisor—the person who places pop music in film, television, and video games. Her credits include Annie, Easy A, Freaks and Geeks, and Arrested Development, among others.

Q: How did you get into the music business?

A: I drove cross-country from Boston to Los Angeles two days after graduating college to do an internship at Sony Records. After my internship ended, I got a job working in promotions and marketing for Nederlander Concerts and the Greek Theatre—but my dream was to become a music supervisor. There was an ad in the Hollywood Reporter as an assistant to a music supervisor. I applied and actually got the job!

Q: When and how did you become a Solo Mom?

A: I became a single mom in 2010. My ex and I decided it was time to end the marriage, but, luckily, we have remained great friends and coparents.

Q: Did being a Solo Mom impact your career in the music business?

A: Time management became a challenge. I became aware of how precious my time is with my son. It’s a constant balancing act between work and family life.

Q: How do you manage?

A: I evaluate and separate the work events I have to attend and plan accordingly. If there is something I can’t miss because we’re dealing with a big client or signing, my ex will usually help cover for me—and I do the same for him. We accommodate each other’s schedules, and we are very flexible when one of us needs coverage. I realize how rare this can be in divorce, and I am grateful for it.

Q: When your status shifted from being married to being a Solo Mom, did you feel a shift in your community?

A: No. If anything, I felt a lot of love and support from everyone. Luckily, no friends were lost in this divorce(!), although I definitely find myself seeking out other single moms or just mom friends in general. I’m always trying to pull my friends together to do things with the kids—trying to expand the circle. More people to love in your life is always a good thing.

Q: Are there specific resources that help you?

A: Having friends with kids helps. Build your network of moms, and help each other. You’ll make close friendships and so will your kids. Working in the music business means nights out from time to time. There is no way around it, so get your support system in place. There are a lot of moms in the music business. Find them!

Q: Has being a Solo Mom posed any sort of detriment to furthering your career?

A: In between the time I’ve become a single mom and now, I’ve been promoted twice, so I can say with certainly that it hasn’t held me back from furthering my career, and because I have a great relationship with my ex, he’s willing to help out if it’s “my night” and I have an important work event I need to attend. I do the same for him. We both love the extra time we get with our son, so if covering each other means we get extra time, we always take it.

Q: Was there a defining moment when you realized you were a Solo Mom?

A: My son was with his dad, and it was one of my first nights after my ex moved out. I pulled up to my house, and it was empty and dark. I sat in the driveway feeling so alone. I’ve never felt lonely as a parent, but in that moment, I felt alone as a person realizing that I was thirtysomething and single again. The feeling stunned me with deep sadness. I remember not wanting to go into the house. I think right after that I decided to throw a big party to fill up the house with people and happiness. I’ve come a long way from that night, and I can say it does get better.

Q: What are you most proud of as a Solo Mom?

A: I’m proud of how my relationship with my son only grew stronger out of this experience. Since I only have him half of the time, when I’m with him, I’m fully with him. We have more quality time, and hanging out with him is my favorite thing.

Q: What is one of your favorite single-parenting tips?

A: Sleepovers! And put your damn phone away, and be present!


 

Dreams Reimagined

A single mother contends with saying goodbye to her college-bound child.

Originally published September 2016 Ventura BLVD Magazine
Written by Kathleen Laccinole | Illustrated by Christine Georgiades

My marriage was spent dreaming of a baby—my perfect, nuclear family. I painted a buttery-yellow nursery, added crystal pulls to my childhood dresser, stenciled the rocking chair where I would breast-feed my child. If you build it, she will come … She didn’t.

After seven years of infertility treatments, I got pregnant.

Then came nine months of misery. Not the fairy tale “let’s do yoga and photo shoots with my magnificent belly” pregnancy. Instead, I got three trimesters of rampant vomiting; wore the same cheap dress every day; and showered maybe twice.
When overly ripe with child, despondent and wretched, my mother told me, “I know you want her out now, but in three months you’ll want to shove her back in.”

Mom was right: My fantasy baby was born with colic; my marriage fell apart, as did my life.

Three became two and my dreams shifted to new ones. Now I imagined all the things we would do together; what I would become as a mother, a woman, a writer—my daughter by my side.

The next year, I dipped my toe back into the dating pool. Nine months later my son arrived. (It happens.) Two again became three—thousands of miles, stratospheres from the life I’d envisioned.

My daughter excelled in school, music, and life in general. Still, at home it felt like her colic lasted well into her 16th year. And since I could not “shove her back in,” I began to quietly entertain the idea of her leaving for college. But I blinked, she turned 18, and somewhere along the way we’d become friends. We shopped, talked about boys, got mani-pedis. Then POOF! She was accepted to USC. And so began the countdown …

I started looking backwards, at all the things we hadn’t done: road trips, Ireland, Africa. I never French-braided her hair, made chocolate chip pancakes, pierced her ears. I never met Mr. Right. She never saw me in love, wouldn’t be the flower girl at my wedding. She deserved better. But does life ever turn out the way we envision in 10-year-old dreams? My emotions are fractured. I try to rein in scattered merry-go-round ponies, search for hidden answers in sock drawers. If college is a good thing, why do I feel so bad? Suddenly, every moment is precious. I hold on tight. And when she’s cranky, I endure because the stomping feet will leave a ghostly silence in a few short weeks. Three will become two … then eventually one. I resist the urge to buy a cat—or seven.

I shift my focus to what we did do: our non-nuclear life—biking in Paris, cooking classes in Barcelona, watching a Rolling Stones concert from the rooftop of our hotel in Rome.
We made magic.

I feel a tingly excitement for my daughter and all she will become. I worry about what can go wrong and long for what can go right. And when I drop her off at the collegiate city that holds the next phase of her magnificent life, I will drive away, lumpy throat, like yesterday’s first day of kindergarten.

Still, I will always be her mother. And like I endured childbirth, I will endure this. It might require corpulent Netflix viewing, extra martinis, and yes—God forbid—a cat.

Because no matter how hard it hurt to push that baby out, this will hurt more.
But I will survive.
Like my mom did.
And her mother before.
Because my mom says I will.
And Mom is always right.

Kathleen Laccinole is a freelance writer and regular contributor to ESME.com. She resides in Sherman Oaks with her son—and so far—no cat.

(First published in Ventura Boulevard Magazine, September, 2016)

 

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