NI mothers in music finding time to work, rest and play

Being a working mother is no barrier to carving out a career in the music industry.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 1:17 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 3:00 pm
Singer-songwriter and locum GP Kate Nicholson became a mum for the first time during the pandemic

That is one of the messages being reinforced during the fifth Women’s Work festival which begins tomorrow.

Singer-songwriter Kate Nicholson became a mother just before lockdown, spending the early part of the pandemic on maternity leave from her job as a locum GP.

Fellow artist Bernadette Morris is mum to two young girls and is a TV producer and director.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Bernadette Morris is a singer, a mother-of-two and a TV producer and director

Both women are involved for the first time in the Women’s Work festival organised by Oh Yeah in Belfast.

Kate, who is 35 and from Draperstown, will launch her new single ‘Street Lamps’ with a live streamed concert at 7.30pm on Saturday from the Accidental Theatre in Belfast.

She said: “When I was off on maternity leave I needed something to focus my energies on – it was quite an isolating time. Music was a great release for me.”

The GP who normally works out of Dalriada Urgent Care in Ballymena returned to work 10 months ago when her son Oisin was nine months.

She said: “A lot of things had changed. It’s got very busy, a lot of people have had problems piling up that they need addressed. It doesn’t help that waiting times in hospitals are so unbelievably long.”

During lockdown Kate took part in a 12-week Mothers In Music course organised by Oh Yeah.

She said: “Over the pandemic there have been no mothers and toddler groups or anything new mums normally have for support, so this provided a lovely community, better still a community of mothers with a shared interest in music. I feel like we’ve made some lifelong friends.”

Bernadette, who will be 40 later this month, also enjoyed the course: “There were mothers of all ages – some recording artists, some musicians, some songwriters – a real mix. I was lucky to get a place on it.

“It was fantastic for meeting other musicians and writers. I enjoyed amazing workshops with the likes of Katie Melua and Michelle Escoffery.”

On the subject of lockdown the mother-of-two from Co Tyrone said: “It’s been lovely in some ways spending a lot of time together as a family, but it is difficult to get that balance of earning enough money to keep your head above water and then the enjoyment that comes from playing and writing music.”

All 17 women from the Mothers In Music project covered KT Tunstall song ‘Push That Knot Away’ which will be premiered at Women’s Work.

Bernadette will also feature in a performance from Blakes Of The Hollow in Enniskillen which was recorded earlier this year as part of a Virtual Tour of NI series.

For the full programme go to

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Alistair Bushe