Los Angeles-based musician Claire Khodara returns today with her latest studio album, Modern Lullaby. Comprised of eleven songs, the record pays homage to her mother who was recently diagnosed with cancer, and her three children. Among several standout songs from the project, Claire’s five-year-old son Winston joins her on “Twinkle – Wonderful World,” a medley of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and Louis Armstrong’s “Wonderful World”. Other cuts from the album include covers of Beyoncé’s “Halo” and Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam” for fans alike to enjoy.
“Kids are now exposed to more music than they used to be,” she says in a statement, “and classic lullabies don’t suffice because of the fast-paced world we live in. My album helps bridge an experience between the parents and children to make bedtime, the last hour of the day, more easeful.”
The album, which arrives in support of Autism Awareness and Acceptance, will see all sales donated to Easterseals, which provides essential services and on-the-ground support for individuals with autism. The nonprofit offers public education, policy, and advocacy initiatives to positively shape perceptions and address the urgent and evolving needs of the one in four Americans with disabilities today. Meanwhile, Claire’s new album serves as an equally impressive body of work that documents a new chapter in her artistry and personal life.
To celebrate the album release, we spoke with Claire Khodara in regard to Modern Lullaby, motherhood, Easterseals, and more. Listen to the project below and read on for our conversation.
How would you describe your personal growth between your previous EPs and why Modern Lullaby is special?
Where do I begin? Having my first child in 2017 changed my perspective as an artist completely. I had previously recorded numerous bodies of work, yet was never truly convicted in my art as I am today. My work reflected the producer’s point of view, instead of mine. Having children inspired a fierce advocacy within, which was furthered when my firstborn, Winston, was diagnosed with autism at age 2.
The advocacy for Winston has spilled into all aspects of my life, including my art. I now know who I am and what I want to sound like. Modern Lullaby, produced by Ken Stacey, is a complication of my favorite covers and an original I wrote for Winston shortly after his birth. Ken believed in me wholeheartedly every step of the way and I feel he did a perfect job in relaying my vision through the album’s musical canvas. All album streaming proceeds will go towards autism advocacy and education.
This album, which is in support of autism advocacy, is an ode to your mother and child—I’d love to know how motherhood and family inform the songs you create?
The album was born out of being inspired by the brevity of life. My mother, Martha Madigan, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer last year. She is part of me, and I am of her. As I faced her mortality, I ultimately faced my own and knew instantly upon receiving her diagnosis that I needed to stop living in the future and start living for today. In my eyes, my mother is the ultimate modern woman, a photographer, and professor of photography for over 40 years, carrying our family with her career and legacy. She has lived according to her true self, with her example empowering a family of creative individuals to listen and follow their own paths.
At five years old, I declared myself a “star rock.” For the past 10 years, I’ve focused on building businesses as an agent, representing and championing other talent, while largely ignoring my own. All the while, my mother questioned why I wasn’t singing, using my “God-given talent”. I have allowed my life choices and others’ opinions to pull me away from my form of expression. I had to stop burying my art. I have had incredible performance experiences from being the soprano soloist for over two years at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, to being a contestant on American Idol. Yet I don’t need an audience, I know singing is my true calling. If I don’t have the courage to sing now, when will I?
The album’s single is a cover of Beyonce’s “Halo,” which has been a staple since its release in 2008. Can you expand on your relationship with the song and why you decided to give your own spin to it?
The first time I heard Halo, I was completely overwhelmed. I remember exactly where and when it was, as the song seemed to swallow me whole. To me, Beyoncé’s Halo describes unconditional love, the perfect single track to a lullaby album.
Elsewhere, your eldest son lends a hand on “Twinkle – Wonderful World,” singing the background vocals. How big of a deal was it for you to have him involved in the project?
It was a natural fit and his voice makes my heart sing! I know this is just the start of Winston’s professional music journey.
For those who are unfamiliar, can you introduce us to Easterseals and how people can support, if not through money, but by getting involved as well?
I investigated several non-profits and realized Easterseals Southern California has the longevity and commitment to autism awareness that aligns with my own. Easterseals is doing the work in the field, offering essential and on-the-ground services to over 15,000 people per year on the autism spectrum and special needs at large. I really believe in their conviction to make a difference, leading the way to full equity, inclusion, and access through life-changing disability and community services. There are many volunteer opportunities and no donation is too small.
Through not only this project, but your platform as a whole, what type of conversations would you like to spark, and furthermore, what impact do you want to create?
I am a singer. I sing for peace. I sing to heal. I sing to comfort. I sing to express my authenticity and hope to inspire others to express theirs. I feel it is my duty to continue the destigmatization of autism and special needs at large. I will continue to support autism awareness.
Elsewhere in music, Poppy Baskcomb is a fresh face with a plethora of potential and personality.