Vered is a Brooklyn based therapist, musician and mother of three who is releasing her third album, “Songs for Sisters and Brothers” on May 18. The family-friendly album is based on her class work with families and her own experiences at home.
Each song musically explores the beautiful and complex sibling dynamic through a unique collection of songs. This is family music in a different sense, exploring the whole family’s trials, tribulations and needs. It is honest, reassuring and relatable. On “Songs for Sisters and Brothers” Vered gives family members a way to understand their emotions which can lead to a stronger bond between them. Impressive accompaniment. The album includes a skilled and eclectic selection of musicians; Marty Beller (They Might Be Giants), Rob Jost (Dear Evan Hansen,) Matt Hilgenberg (Winton Marsalis, Arturo O’farril), Walter Martin, Joanie Leeds, and more.
Fascinated by family dynamics, singer and songwriter Vered strived to create an album that would include songs aimed at understanding the family as a whole; its trials, tribulations and needs. Hence, the music is honest, reassuring and relatable because it is inspired directly by real life. After many years of working as a therapist with families in her music classes, Vered observed one of the most frequent questions asked: How do we cultivate healthy and loving relationships between our children? With “Songs for Sisters and Brothers” she gives family members a way to understand their emotions which can lead to a stronger bond between them. The album touches on the point of view of the youngest sibling, the eldest, the ups and downs of family life and even on parent’s own insecurities. The themes of sharing, jealousy, love, and togetherness are introduced through Vered’s lush and warm voice, which is supported by rich vocal harmonies. She and producer Jon Samson offer a rich variety of musical stylings through the thirteen tracks exploring Doo Woop, indie, folk, jazz, calypso sounds and more.
Vered has earned GOLD awards from both the Parents Choice Association and the National Parenting Publications. She is the creator of “Baby in Tune,” a workshop that teaches parents how to use music to bond with and understand their baby. Vered has done staff trainings for organizations such as Sanctuary for Families and the San Francisco Public Library and she was invited to present her work at “Zero to Three,” the largest conference for professionals working with ages 0-3 years old.
Vered lives with her husband and three kids in Brooklyn and recently discussed her new album and more via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): You are a singer, songwriter, and a therapist so which passion came first and how do they influence one another?
Vered: I think they have all been present from day one. When I was a kid I would sing on the beach as loud as I could, hoping to get “discovered.” I was also raised by two psychologists (my parents), so the language of relationships, motives and therapy has always been second nature to me. The songwriting came a bit later, in my late 20s, after I picked up a guitar. Immediately I began writing songs about my experience that were extremely confessional with a humorous twist at times. When I write songs, I don’t intentionally write from a therapeutic point of view. But without a doubt they are influenced by my studies and my experience as a therapist. For instance, one of my first songs for families has a chorus that goes “Mama leave me be, but don’t leave me.” I was writing about my experience with my baby. But this is also a phenomenon that psychologists talk about called “Rapprochement,” in which the baby is conflicted between wanting independence from the parent while also yearning for a feeling of security
MM: As a therapist, you work with families a lot. So why did you gravitate towards this particular area?
Vered: Leading up to having a baby my professional life meandered a bit. I played with my band, recorded songs, and also worked as a therapist in various settings. It didn’t quite fit together. Once I had my baby everything seemed to merge in a way that made sense. My songs were suddenly about my experience as a mother and about what I imagined my baby’s experience to be. At the same time, I was also studying in a program that was heavily based in attachment theory. It felt natural to combine all of the skills I had acquired to that point – the music therapy, the songwriting, the psychotherapy and the parenting. Now I blend these disciplines in a way that is unique and gives parents tools from music therapy, knowledge from psychology, and a connection to their own inner musical voice.
MM: How did you go about getting your music well-known and booking shows, getting albums made, etc.?
Vered: At first my fans were the parents taking my classes. They spread the word to their friends, etc. Making albums is a huge project that often takes me a full year to do. For two of my albums I worked with Jon Samson, a music therapy colleague.
MM: You’ve won many awards for your work, so what was that experience like?
Vered: Great! It is so nice to feel like my hard work is valued. But the best feedback come from the parents who email me saying that their baby only falls asleep to my song, or that they sing my good morning song to their baby every morning, or that they cry every time they hear a certain song.
MM: “Songs for Brothers and Sisters” is about families and siblings in particular. Was it easy or hard to write songs based on family dynamics?
Vered: It was a natural progression for me. The first two albums were about the relationship between the parent and baby. Once I had three of my own I became fascinated by the dynamics between my kids. The hardest part was deciding what aspects to include in the album. There are so many ways to approach the topic and so many facets.
MM: Did you find it enjoyable to use your own family as inspiration?
Vered: I can’t do it any other way. My songs have always been about my own experience, even before kids. My hope is that if I write songs that are extremely personal maybe they will end up feeling universal and others will be able to relate. I also love asking my kids advice on certain songs. I ask them about topics, lyrics, and even melody.
MM: Be honest, which songs on the album are your absolute favorites and why?
Vered: One of my favorite songs on the album is one that no one seems to be talking about called “Family Hug.” It is about the moment with our family in which all the chaos melts away and we are fully present with each other. I loved singing it and it moves me. I also really like a song called “Like It Once Was.” It is also a deep cut on the album. It is a somewhat heavy song about the eldest child losing the full attention of the parents. I like how you can really hear my love of the Beatles in that song. I also got a chance to sing in a way that I don’t normally especially for kid’s music.
MM: Generally speaking, what are some of the most common themes—good and bad—that you see play out among siblings?
Vered: Competition would be number one. Underlying it all they are competing over the love of the parent. They want to know, am I the most special? Do you love me the most? And really – Am I special? At the same time, they learn to love and appreciate peers though the sibling relationship. Growing up with differences in personality and challenges hopefully makes them able to understand the perspective of the other, which will serve them well throughout life.
MM: How important is the sibling bond overall and do you see big differences between adults who grew up with siblings compared to those who were only children? Essentially, why is the sibling bond so sacred?
Vered: I think it really prepares us for life with our peers. It informs how we will handle competition with others, how we will be able to support others, and understand others’ perspectives.
MM: What has listener feedback to the album been like so far and what can people expect from your live shows?
Vered: So far, the album has been received really well. It seems like families are really identifying with the songs and are feeling a connection to the music. The live show will be really fun. I’ve got my friends joining me to create lots of harmonies, similar to a family.
MM: You also created a workshop called Baby in Tune, so what led you to establish that and what exactly do you do in the workshop?
Vered: The class blends music therapy, psychology and music to give parents tools to bond with their babies. Parents learn how to use music to soothe, establish routine, play, encourage communication, understand their baby, and find their own inner voice.
MM: You have presented at the Zero to Three conference, so what is most beneficial about that event?
Vered: It is a wonderful gathering of 3000 professionals all dealing with babies ages 0-3 years old. It is always extremely inspiring to hear the work that is being done by other professionals. I inevitably walk away with new ideas and a deeper knowledge to apply toward my classes. Presenting there was a huge honor.
MM: You have an amazing career, so what have been some of the greatest highlights, especially with working with this album?
Vered: One of my favorite moments with this album happened by mistake. I asked my older son to try to sing one of the songs – “Brothers and Sisters,” to see how it sounded. He sang it so well that I recorded it. My other two kids joined and added some lines. I ended up using everything they did. I love that they perform a song on the album almost without my help. That was a true moment of blending my professional and personal life. I feel very lucky to have a career that feels like a perfect marriage between my personal life, my professional experience, and my artistic talents.
MM: What are your biggest goals for the overall future of both your music and your therapy career?
Vered: I am hoping that Baby in Tune will continue to expand. I would like to hire more instructors (I have three at the moment,) and do more classes. I would also like to find a way to bring the workshop to populations who don’t have access to therapy groups like this, for instance teenage moms. I am not sure where my music will go next. I will have to wait and see what inspires me in the next couple of years.
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