The Voice of The Mother

{5 min read}


“I was ten years old when I stared into the cover of Mother’s Jessi Colter record droppin’ down”

After I wrote this lyric, I stopped and pondered two things. Why did I stare into the cover of that Jessi Colter record when I was ten, and why was I the only child of my mom’s that called her “Mother?” I pondered long enough to finally get the answers to both of those questions.

I stared into that album cover because I couldn’t keep from staring into it. But why? Was it her long, black, back-combed hair, or that thick silver bracelet against her dark skin, that fantastic dress she was wearing or that gorgeous upright piano she leaned against? I never realized it until I stopped to really ask myself this question, but I pondered long enough to truly reconnect with my thoughts and feelings back then. As I stared and studied her while listening to the deeply evocative sound of her voice, I recognized, even as a 10 year old, that I was to be a part of something this mystery woman was part of. But after recalling all of this, now at 50, I had to ask myself what that thing actually was. I was to be a part of what? And had I missed the mark?

I’d already done the whole Nashville thing in my twenties. There was such a rich and tangible history that, for me, was still so alive on the streets of Nashville’s Music Row – in my mind at least. I used to sit out back of the old RCA building where I worked. I was a smoker back then and I would take a couple of quick drags while my imagination would watch Patsy drive up 16th Avenue, looking for Randy. Loretta would be on her way to WSM with Do Little. I’d watch Waylon and Jessi pull up to record in Studio A. And Dolly would be secretly dropping off suprise 1970’s Christmas Cadillacs to all the execs on The Row who’d helped her the past year. 

In real life, I once climbed up into the echo chamber of Studio B and stood there for a long, stunned moment, just thinking of the sounds of Roy Orbison, Floyd Kramer, Carl Perkins and the like that had bounced off and around the inconspicuous four walls that surrounded me. But those sounds, and most of the people who created them were dead and gone by that time. So, what was it that I was to be a part of? There was so much of “Country Music” and its “industry” that I simply didn’t jive with and I never could quite find my place in it all – and as it turned out, didn’t really want to. But I got some clarity that day by asking myself these two questions – especially when I got to the second question about the deeper reason for me calling this woman “Mother.”

My mother was not a “mom” per se. She was a Mother! More specifically, she was a “Voice of The Mother” …as was Jessi, and Emmy Lou, and Dolly. The wisdom that was packed into this one woman who ruled over my household was almost more than a young girl cared to take in at times. But, she spoke, no matter the cost.

She is the “she” referred to in the Proverbs. She is wisdom and as I grew up, I observed people from all walks of life become drawn to this wisdom in her. When I was eighteen I called to ask for some of that wisdom. As always, she shot it straight. I got upset. In total frustration she said, “Jill, I don’t know why you ask me if you don’t want to know the answer!” I thought for a minute and shot back. “I want you to tell me what I want to hear and I want you to be right about it!” Then I laughed at my own ridiculousness. In that moment I realized, at least partially, how exhausting it must have been to walk in the level of valor and vigor this woman walked in. 

As I wrote the lyrics to Common Ground, I came into crystal clear focus about “The Voice of The Mother” call on my own life and gift. People too often have this same delusional hope. We want to be told what we want to hear and we want it to be right – a form of laziness and complacency.

There are two critical topics that we simply can’t afford to be lazy and complacent about.  The purpose of the Common Ground Album Project is to stir the question,


It is the job of the mother to nurture and take care of her loved ones. With this album project my aim is to unleash my own “Voice of The Mother” regarding these two topics – at whatever cost – and whether we want to hear it or not. 

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