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Jordan Sellergren on balancing music, motherhood and magazines in a pandemic

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Jordan Sellergren plays on Facebook Live in May 2020. — courtesy of the artist

Writing and recording music as a mother with a full-time job has been a balancing act for Jordan Sellergren, even before COVID-19 arrived in Iowa.

“On a typical day, I would get the kids to school and head to the Little Village office first thing,” said Sellergren, art director at Little Village, of her pre-pandemic schedule. “We were still doing two issues per month so I was quite busy producing magazines. I was also wrapping up my album — I sent it to the press just before quarantine hit, so I was focusing on that as well as booking and practicing for shows to promote it.”

“Music hasn’t quite been the same since.”

Growing up in Cedar Rapids, Sellergren knew she wanted to pursue music from an early age.

“When I was a kid I used to play music for fun. I just always did it,” said Sellergren, a self-taught guitarist. “Then when I was in my late 20s I decided I wanted to write an album.”

“My first album [released in 2011] was eponymously named Milk & Eggs which is the stage name I played under at the time.”

Sellergren looks up to country artists like Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. “I play mostly classic country,” she said. “Right now I am also doing meditation sounds.”

Jordan Sellergren performs at the Grey Area Music Festival outside of Flat Black Studios in Iowa City in 2018. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

When she writes songs, she likes to develop them on her guitar.

“I usually play an early-’60s Harmony h74 hollowbody electric,” Sellergren said. “I really adore it.”

She writes songs solo and provides her own lead vocals and guitar, but performs with a band of eastern Iowa musicians — including most recently Randall Davis and Richard Wagor — on her latest album and for live gigs.

Her favorite place to play live is The Sanctuary Pub on S Gilbert Street in Iowa City.

“We would just pack in there with my band and just play for two-hour shows,” Sellergren said.

Like millions of other artists, Sellergren has faced a tough challenge in her personal life this year. Because of COVID-19, she now has to balance her son starting 8th grade from home along with her job responsibilities and promoting her new album, Sweet, Bitter Tears, with little opportunity to perform.

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“Everything’s sort of on hold, I guess. I did send materials out to radio stations and reviewers when Sweet, Bitter Tears was released. I’ve done your basic internet/social media promo and a few livestreams, but COVID really stalled things out,” she explained. “Thankfully records don’t expire and I can pick things back up again in the future.”

As for school, “So far, so good,” she said. “We did some school work starting in March through June. Over the last week it hasn’t been so bad. He’s 13 so has mostly been pretty much able to stuff on his own.”

Sweet, Bitter Tears (Sellergren’s first album recorded under her own name), is available for purchase in a digital, CD and vinyl format at jordansellergren.com.

She also has a track on New Roots Grow, a compilation album for Cedar Rapids derecho relief released on Oct. 2: a re-recorded version of her song “The Wind in the Treetops” from Sellergren’s debut album.

Carrie Liebergen is a Little Village intern and UI REACH student.


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