Today I have a modern woman for you to meet who is not letting BS or burnout stop her: Meet Saundra Williams. Some of you may have heard her name before; others may have heard her voice. For those of you who are not in the know, Saundra is a humble, hardworking singer from the Bronx. She got her start working her way up through amateur night at the Apollo Theater (yes, that one). She's toured, performed, and recorded for an array of artists such as Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Victor Wooten, Mavis Staples, Amy Winehouse, Moby, Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Lady Wray, and Low Cut Connie. Saundra has also written her own music, has had a solo career, and makes up one half of the group, Saun and Starr (who are signed to Daptone Records).
Saundra has a lot of professional cred. Yet, she’s here today to talk about Saundra - the woman and working mom. While I know Saundra believes music has a real healing power to it, I happen to think her story does, too. In this episode, you’ll hear Saundra share stories of being a young girl growing up in the Bronx and singing into her “microphone” (a hairbrush). She also opens up about being a working teenage mom and experiencing some working mom guilt. Plus, she talks about her time at the Apollo Theater and lessons learned about recognizing your own worth. Saundra also talks about the grind of the music industry and how she’s navigated it. (This kind of persistence is transferable for those of you not in the music industry.)
If you dig this episode, want to lift and amplify Saundra’s voice, and help support this podcast, please share it with 1 person. Text it, email it or heck, send it by carrier pigeon.
If you want to see Saundra perform live, she will be touring with Mavis Staples this Spring! You can find the tour dates and information here.
Selected link love + resources from the episode:
Saundra Williams on Sharon (video)
Kesha - Woman (video)
I Want it I Need It (Real Love) (video)
Saun & Starr - Big Wheel (video)
The Wolf of Wall Street (movie)
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Quotes + selected highlights from the episode
All of this wisdom is from Saundra Williams herself (with some minor edits for readability).
[00:09:54] Women need to love ourselves a whole lot more.
[00:29:57] It's exciting to recount your life because you don't really get a chance to do it often. So much living happens in between these times.
[00:40:27] I feel like I can conquer the world. I have a lot of confidence. I see the world differently now that I'm back home. I think that traveling is very important for people. Even if you can't afford to travel far, I believe that travel is a very important component to learning about yourself. If you get a chance to travel it opens your mind to different things in the world, different people, and different ways of life.
[00:41:29] [On being a working mom and dealing with working mom guilt] I started to feel guilty even though I was making money. I started to feel guilty being away from my son and leaving my son with my mom and dad because the money was good coming in to help the family. I was proud to be able to do it. But it also started opening doors for new hurts and emotional stress because it comes with a cost.
[01:06:01] You cannot handle yourself unprofessionally even though you are being handled unprofessionally. There is a gauge as to how you should handle yourself because you have to take the high road a lot of times.
[01:11:33] A lot of singers and musicians - who a lot of people may never know their names or faces - they're out here hustling, working hard, being successful, and getting things done. You'll see them on TV as backing artists. You'll see them on all kinds of media platforms, and you may never know their names and faces. I want to give a shout out to them because they work hard. They're out there, and they learn a lot. We learned a lot from each other.
[01:15:50] It's not something that I just do, it’s who I am. I know how to flow with it, and it never feels like work.
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