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Zoe Mulford: Postcards (Blog)

Chris Mulford 1941-2011

Posted on September 12, 2011 with 4 comments

2011_with_Zoe_on_Tour_resized.jpg

My mother, Chris Mulford, died on August 23 of a stroke suffered on a hiking trip with my dad in Wyoming. She was 69. 

Since 2007, she has toured with me in the US as my road manager. She did most of the driving, ran CD sales, schlepped gear, made sandwiches, and reminded me to do my vocal warm-ups. More importantly, she was great company. She enjoyed spending time with the many people – family, friends, and folk volunteers – who welcomed us in their homes. If we stayed in a house with children and left while they were at school, she would write a thank-you note to each child, often with pictures. 

My mother was a trained and accomplished musician. Her musical life included professional orchestral music (double bass in the Oakland Symphony in California), social singing with family , friends, and the Girl Scouts, community theater (accompanying many musicals at the Players Club of Swarthmore) and countless hours playing the piano and the concertina for her own enjoyment. 

In 2007 when she first offered to come on the road with me, I had doubts. What self-respecting adult musician brings her mother along to carry her stuff? One tour was enough to show me that the shows got better when I had her help and support. Some fans may remember her calling out from the back of the room when I blanked on lyrics or misremembered the names of historical figures on stage. (Thanks, Mom.) After the first time she came with me to a booking conference, everyone I approached for a gig asked eagerly if I was bringing my mother.

In her professional life, my mother was one of the first generation of certified lactation consultants. She is loved and respected in her field, and many people remember how she used music to communicate at professional conferences. I went to several of these events with her; she would introduce me to her colleagues as the person who taught her to breastfeed. When she started coming with me to music conferences, it gave me great pleasure to intoduce her to my colleagues as the person who taught me to sing.

A moving car is a good place for story-telling, heart-to-heart talks, silliness, career planning, solving the problems of the world, or just being quiet. We had more good time together after I moved out of the US than we ever did when I was living three hours away in Maryland. I am profoundly grateful for every minute of it. I can do my own driving, carry my own stuff, set up my own sales table, and find my own shoes – but nothing will replace my mother’s presence on the road.

Thanks, Mom.

If you’d like to share your memories of Chris, or find out more about the amazing person she was, please visit her memorial site (in progress) at https://sites.google.com/site/chrismulfordmemorial/.

Chris Brooks

November 21, 2011

Your mother's passing saddens me. I didn't know until I read this. She was a wonderful person and very proud of you.

Brian Ferdman

October 19, 2011

Zoe, I'm so glad I was able to see Chris with you last year, and I could tell from the look in her eye just how much she truly enjoyed touring with you.

Crystal Sada

October 19, 2011

You mother was an inspiring and wonderful woman and will not be forgotten any time soon. I had the privlege and honor of working with her - she the IBCLC for our program, me a childbirth educator. Her death saddened me greatly. Keep singing Zoe...she is listening!

Janis Lee

October 7, 2011

For now, a short comment....more later: I see cows and a big ole moon on that t-shirt. That's the (our) spirit!!! :)