Join electric harpist & vocalist Deborah Henson-Conant from her studio for a LIVE STUDIO CONCERT on Saturday May 11, 2019 at 8PM EDT. Sign up HERE to get reminders AND  a replay link if you missed the show!

[First posted May 14, 2017, updated May 11, 2019]

This is a special Mother’s Day message – and a question: Where is your mother in you, now?

This picture is my mother and me when I was little.  My biggest childhood heroes were my mother, my aunt, our post-mistress who had a wooden leg, and my dad’s dog. I think about my mother a lot, and I talk about her in my shows.

That used to embarrass me – how much I think about her – but now I accept it.

My mother gave me music, taught me to harmonize, to play the ukulele, to read chords on the piano. She was the most compelling performer I ever experienced, and she taught me to watch for heartbreaking, mind-blowing, unexpected performances to happen anywhere – in kitchens, on street corners and sometimes even in concert halls –  and to sit breathless and watch them with all your heart when they happen.

For Mother’s Day each year I like to republish this post where I collect memories about her and add new ones each year. Below you’ll find: The story of the Nightingale, my mini-music video “Favorite Aunt” (about my mother’s little sister), Mother’s Day Revisited, the fine art of Falling Short, The Butterfly Glass, One Mom’s Legacy of Music & Burnt Food, My Mother’s Mexican Hat, Two Horses Running and Anna Bella & Piano Man Sam about my mother’s mother and father.

My mother died many years ago, much younger than I am now – and our tumultuous relationship has improved every year since then.

I hope you enjoy these memories.  And I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day, wherever your mother is in you.

And by the way … where is she in you, now?

Mother’s Day Eve LIVE Concert Replay

Last weekend I continued a long-held tradition of performing a concert in honor of my mother – and this time I did it direct from my studio on Facebook LIVE. My fans and friends got to enjoy the show in their living rooms, kitchens, decks – wherever they were. I performed favorites, a couple requests, and talked about how the music comes together. Watch the replay HERE

My Mother taught me MUSIC

My mother was both a performer and a teacher. She took teaching me how to DO things very seriously – and one of the passions I got from my her is to share what I KNOW about how to DO THINGS… Read more HERE

 

The Fine Art of Falling Short

My relationship with my mother has improved greatly since she died nearly 30 years ago.  She left me a legacy of  fierce passion for truth,  music as a first language –  and a tangled conundrum of inspiration and shame for simply existing.  In other words – a human experience. – See more HERE

People have to Sing…

That’s what my grandmother Edith said. “They have to eat their vegetables. They have to know they’re useful. And they have to sing. And someone’s got to keep them together. That’s me. That’s why I play the piano.”

See more HERE

My Favorite Aunt – A Music Video

My mother died long ago.  After that, I declared the night before Mother’s Day as “Aunty’s Eve.”  Read about my favorite aunt and see our 90-second Music Video is called “Favorite Aunt” which was featured on an NPR show about Aunts.  I wrote the song in 2007.

See more HERE

Mother’s Day Revisited

Mother’s Day never meant much to me until one year I suddenly thought: wait!  What does my MOM really want???  Oh sure, finger paintings are always a big hit, but … is there something else?  I remember the year the light bulb went on for me. I was 9.

See more HERE

One mom’s Legacy of Music and Burnt Food

My mother left me two legacies at the end of her short life, both sprung from the same idea: great art can spontaneously appear anywhere, anytime. The first legacy was her music, which was impromptu and spectacular. The other was her cooking…  See more HERE

My Mother’s Mexican Hat

After the divorce my mother and I went to live with my Aunt.  After a year or so the three of us went to live with THEIR mother, my grandmother.  A few years later my mother started dating again.  Then one day, she went to Tijuana, Mexico.  See more HERE

Two Horses Running

Because she died so young, I’m now older than my mother.  But she’s still my mother.  That’s non-negotiable.  I’m still struggling to be exactly like her and nothing like her.  She was – for me – paradox embodied… Like, the horses…  See more HERE

The Butterfly Glass

 

We’re sitting at a table, with a cheap waterglass and a set of watercolor paints.  I’m about to go to a birthday party.  My mother is painting an exquisite butterfly onto the bottom of the glass… a present for my friend… and I know it’ll disappear the minute they wash the glass.  See more HERE

Anna Bella and Piano Man Sam

For years, my grandparents pretended to be leading a normal life … but in the dark of night they each had a secret life.  See more HERE

(This one is about my mother’s mother and father.)

The Nightingale

“The Nightingale” is one of my most-requested songs.  I wrote it in memory of my mother’s voice.  On this page you can purchase the sheet music via download, listen & share the audio, see my “Behind the Scenes” video about the song and see YouTube performances by other harpists.  See more HERE

The Nightingale around the World

I wrote it in memory of my mother’s voice – and since I published it years ago, harpists all over the world now play it. I’ve seen it performed on a Tedx stage, in ensemble, with harp and cello, with handbells.  On tiny toy harps, and on concert grand instruments, and I’ve collected a few of those videos HERE

Für Elise – My Mom’s one Classical Piece

My mom could only play ONE classical piece on the piano, but hearing it over and over as a child had a profound affect on me as a composer, and I decided to arrange it for harp. Hear and see that arrangement HERE

 

Counting Fish

We were at a state park when we saw the forest ranger with his hands in the stream, looking intently into the water. I learned he was doing something we all need to do. Read more HERE

 

This is the gift

I was riding my bike home from the local cafe along the bike path in mid-April when I saw a group of people walking ahead of me who looked a lot like me.  Read more HERE

 

In this Room Heaven Bloomed

When I was in my early teens, one day my grandmother Edith, a no-nonsense farmer and grade-school teacher, sat me down with a pincushion full of needles and a spool of thread and told me to thread every needle so she could use them when she wanted to sew. I didn’t know then that she was sharing her vulnerability, and by doing that, opening my heart to her. Read more HERE

 

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