Mama Muses with Nurit Siegel Smith | Executive Director of Music Forward
Nurit is the badass director of Music Forward as well as a performance artist in her own right. The reason we love Nurit AND Music Forward is that they work to empower and give opportunities WITH follow through to youth with a passion for music from under-resourced communities. They are committed to providing these opportunities and speaking up for children that are all too under-represented, giving them the tools that they need to open doors for their futures as “music industry leaders, influencers, and innovators of tomorrow!”. We are grateful to Music Forward and Nurit for all the work they do and it was such pleasure getting to know her.
Interview by Kacy Byxbee, editor, Your Zen Mama
Who is in your family?
Philip, Nurit, Maya (8), Zahava (6), and Ava the Dog (3)
Where are you from?
Israeli born Angeleno
Music Forward Foundation Executive Director
Can you tell us more about the mission and need for Music Forward?
Today’s youth face a nationwide crisis when it comes to education and employment. 1.2 million young people are disconnected, meaning they are not currently enrolled in school or working and as a result, face a variety of challenges. Music Forward assists in addressing these by helping youth turn their passion for music into professions, both on and off-stage. Through scholarships, mentoring, panels and workshops, our programs empower youth who have a love for music secure employment in the music industry and related fields, leading them to promising futures. Music Forward is also dedicated to making the music industry more accessible, diverse and equitable. We target outreach to ensure youth from under-resourced communities and under-represented voices in the industry have information and access to our services to provide them with the resources and opportunities they need to become music industry leaders, influencers, and innovators of tomorrow!
What are the biggest challenges you face with Music Forward?
I don’t know if I would characterize it as a challenge, as every organization gets tested in certain ways unsurprisingly. However, having been involved in the social sector for two decades, I feel a profound responsibility to ensure that the work we are undertaking has impact and is systemic in nature. And we continue to build as many pipelines into the music industry especially for under-represented voices. We are asking lots of questions and unlocking multiple doors in order to continue to evolve into a siginificant partner and advocate for all young people.
Can you tell us more about the South African philosophy of ubuntu (the south african philosophy that speaks to humanity being universally connected through the bond of sharing)? How has it informed your parenting style?
I married a South African and with it came insight into another culture and customs. The humanistic philosophy of ubuntu resonated deeply with me and reflected a vision of how I want to live my life, compassionate and empathetic. Taking these values into my parenting was essential…to not go mad. It helped advise me to tap into the crucial virtue of patience and better understand their needs, not just mine.
What is it like working as a performance artist? What is your preferred medium, and does it change?
Love that you are asking about this! I remember a decade or so ago when folks would ask what performance project I was working on, I began saying that I am working on my family project. And for the last ten years my creative focus has been on that and them. I have just started performing again. And it feels good! I originally started performing as a dancer a few decades ago, so my body will probably always be the instrument I know the most and construct from first. Layering the theater and voice work on top of that; finding a film maker to collaborate with; putting that all together is where the magic happens. Of course, there is a German word for this type of work: Gesamtkunstwerk, a work of art that makes use of all or many art forms or strives to do so.I strive to find new, unique ways to merge all these mediums and communicate a reflective, shared truth.
What is your favorite thing to do as a family?
We love lounging around the house together; in pajamas, reading, eating, cleaning, playing. Oh, and a lovely family bike ride is always good!
What are you reading?
My oldest and I are reading Kate Milford’s Greenglass House series together. Personally, I am rereading some classic Vonnegut for pure pleasure. I just find that I guffaw often while going through the books and that is exactly what I need right now, more guffawing.
Where do you feel most inspired?
In a hot bath.
How do you manage stress?
In a hot bath.
What’s the most challenging part about being a mom?
The balance of it all! I still have to manage so much of my children’s lives that the time and energy left to focus on my friends/husband/my/our lives together is drastically diminished. With time, I know this will change but with young kids in the house this will continue to be a challenge for a bit longer.
How do you maintain balance with work, a partner, kids, and yourself? Any tricks?
See above. I don’t 😉! Well, at least I now know that it will be an enduring pursuit and I am not caught up in the anxiety of it all. I will continue to strive for work/life/family/self/health/wealth-balance. But it’s okay to also just aim for a great massage every month!
What are you watching right now?
I am watching You vs. Wild with my girls. So adventurous and educational! And I am midway through Kal Penn’s This Giant Beast that is the Global Economy. Knowledge is power.
What advice do you have for young women?
Enjoy the journey. It always seems trite to say, but it truly is about the voyage. The destination sometimes shifts and definitions of success adjusts. So just hold tight and let go!
What advice do you have for mothers?
Just hold tight and let go!
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Don’t ever stop learning. I look at every situation, encounter or experience as an opportunity to gain knowledge.
What are 4 things you can't live without?
See who is in my family 😊.