‘Thunder in My Arms’, Lissa Schneckenburger’s new album tells of her personal experience as a foster and adoptive parent which ignited a passion to create a musical tableau of family, love, trust, and resiliency. The result, a powerful album titled “Thunder in My Arms”will be released on May 17, 2019.
Lissa is a traditional fiddler and ballad singer who has performed worldwide for years. While “Thunder in My Arms” was conceived as a recording for foster and adoptive parents about the hardships and joys of caring for children with developmental trauma, it grew into a sincere, magnificent statement for all those whose humanity embraces the art of music as well as the art of being genuinely alive. The album takes the shape of a song cycle about attachment, parenting, and trauma. Sung from a myriad of viewpoints, the album can be at times brazen and innocent, resilient and triumphant, softly confessional and sweetly comforting. The soundscape of this article stands in sharp contrast to Lissa’s previous recordings. Displaying a sonic tapestry whose organic foundation is of rhythmic pulse and bass line, the songs swell with electric guitar, piano, and strings, and at times explode with brass and saxophone. Riding above this rich and alluring mix are Schneckenburger’s expressive vocals, giving life to lyrics both tender and potent.
Lissa Schneckenburger recently discussed this album and more via an exclusive interview.
Meaga Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in music and how come you focus on kid’s music?
Lissa Schneckenburger (LS): I can’t remember a time when music wasn’t a huge focus in my life. From an early age I was interested in music
and dancing and I gradually morphed from wanting to emulate Miss Piggy from the Muppets, to wanting to emulate Joan Baez, and eventually becoming a full-time touring musician myself. Although I hope that my newest release, “Thunder in My Arms,” will be enjoyed by music lovers of all ages, I really wrote it with parents in mind. The process of becoming a foster and then adoptive parent myself was so transformative that I was inspired to write music for others in my situation.
MM: How did you go about breaking into the music scene?
LS: For me it started when I was young and just wanted to play out as much as possible, with as many other musicians as I possibly could. I played in a band in high school and immersed myself in the traditional music scene in Maine, where I grew up. As I’ve gotten older, my love of music and creativity has stayed the same, but I’ve become more focused and mature about how I handle the business aspects of my career. Going to the New England Conservatory in Boston and then later moving to New York City, gave me life-long connections to a vibrant folk music scene that still inspires me to this day. And of course, in the music scene just like with any business, a healthy dose of hard work never hurts.
MM: How did your experiences as a foster and adoptive parent inspire the songs on your new album?
LS: When I first became a foster parent, I felt like I was in a war zone. My child was explosive, aggressive, and rightfully furious about what had happened to him in his short life, without an appropriate way to communicate. I didn’t know where to turn for support, and music became my solace. Having an album to put on at the end of the day made me feel better. There is a tremendous amount to learn about developmental trauma, both for caregivers as well as community members and professionals. There are plenty of books and workshops to help us gain a better understanding of early brain development and how it responds to adverse situations, but I have yet to find any music to help us sympathize on an emotional level. Not everyone is a verbal learner, and few parents have time to read in the chaos of their daily lives. I personally am able to digest and integrate information much more completely when music is the vehicle. Because of this, I was inspired to write an album of songs designed to help families feel better, understand each other, and grow together.
MM: Of all the songs, have you any special favorites?
LS: Asking a musician to choose their favorite song is a little like having to choose your favorite kid- all of them really speak to me in different ways and I am so proud of the whole album over all. However, can admit that track 7, “They Sent Me a Picture,” is one of my favorites. This is partly because it was very challenging to write and I worked on it for a really long time, but in the end, I think I was able to access an emotional conduit to sympathy and compassion that is sometimes really difficult to find.
MM: What can audiences expect from your concerts?
LS: This is a bigger band than I usually tour with, and I’m really excited to share that big exciting sound with everyone. There will be plenty of up-tempo songs that people could jump up and dance to, as well as some more quiet poignant numbers. Over all, the thing that ties all this new music together is the theme of families and attachment.
MM: What made you decide to foster and adopt children and what was the process like?
LS: I already had some experience with adoption in my family, and I knew from an early age that that was how I wanted to grow my own family. We decided to foster specifically because we felt it would tie us to our local community, and in fact it has been a great way to meet lots of folks in our area that we wouldn’t have met otherwise. There is always a great need for foster parents and so once we decided to go in that direction everything moved very quickly. After the initial application process and home visit, we got a call about a placement on a Friday afternoon, and a little over an hour later we met our new son for the first time. We had no idea what we were getting into, but very few first-time parents ever do. The hardest part about being a foster parent was working with the Department for Children and Families. The system is stretched very thin and everyone is incredibly overwhelmed as they try to help the children and families that need it the most. For every child in your home there are so many meetings, visits, appointments, and paperwork to fill out that it can feel a lot like a full-time job, in addition to the actual parenting. Even though you might spend the majority of your time caring for a foster child, the state is technically their legal guardian, which can be incredibly frustrating if you have a disagreement about what is in their best interest.
MM: What do you wish more people knew about fostering and adopting?
LS: It is absolutely the hardest thing, and also the most rewarding thing I have ever done. You have to have a heart full of love, compassion, incredible patience, and the organizational capacity to run a household with lots of challenges that don’t usually occur in families connected by birth. I discovered that self-care was a crucial element in me being my best self, and being able to juggle everything affectively. If you’re thinking of becoming a foster or adoptive parent, I would recommend getting a therapist now, and proactively safeguard your emotional health so that you can be the strongest and most effective advocate for anyone in your care.
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
LS: I am so excited to share this music with other parents, and I hope that it brings them joy. Fans can pre order copies of my album now on my web site (www.lissafiddle.com) and once it’s released on May 17th, they can purchase copies on a sliding scale. I want to make sure that this recording is accessible to foster and adoptive parents no matter what, so you can choose to pay a little less or a little more depending on your resources. You can also choose to “pay it forward” and help put funds towards a CD for someone else who can’t afford it.
“Thunder in My Arms” will be available at www.lissafiddle.com, CDBaby, Bandcamp, iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, and other digital retailers, as well as at Lissa Schneckenburger’s live shows. She can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter.
Also Read: Review: BB-8 Hero Droid by Spin Master
Also Read: “Twin Dolls” by JC Toys
Also Read: Review: Cat Toys by HEXBUG