A Few Questions For Kay Hanley. Hannah Montana Back Up Singer & All Around Artist Extraordinare


She’s a musician. She’s a mom. She’s a Miley Cyrus back-up singer. She’s amazing. Listen in on our chat with solo artist and Letters to Cleo lead singer, Kay Hanley.



Since we are a Mom-centric site, would you mind sharing a little bit about your children? Are they musical?


Having grown up in a house with all music all the time, Zoe Mabel (9) and Henry (6) are surprisingly chill about music, especially learning instruments, which they are not really interested in. I guess it's sort of like growing up in a house where the parents are bankers: BORING! They both have excellent singing pitch though, and they don't seem to care. Funny how life works.


You’ve made the very challenging -- and not too uncommon for those in the entertainment industry -- home-base change from East Coast to West Coast. Could you tell us what prompted that transition, and how’s it going?


I was (and still am to a degree) a dyed in the wool, Irish Catholic Boston townie. My husband had always wanted to move to NY or LA but I was resolute in my opposition. After the kids were born, my desire to go tour on the road dwindled, and therefore, so did my opportunities. In order to earn income, my husband Michael started touring with other bands, which at first was A-OK with me. But then I saw the writing on the wall; I was looking at a life where my husband would be gone all the time and I would be raising the children effectively alone. Then Henry got sick. When Michael came back from his last tour after the illness, he said “We are moving to LA." I said, "Make it happen and I will go." He did, so I went and never looked back. It was an excellent decision.


Which brings up a related point -- not only are you a songwriter, but you are a skilled blog writer as well! The tale of your near-tragedy with son Henry was so artfully composed and compelling. Motherhood tends to provide us with those unpredictable, mettle-testing moments. What about motherhood has “surprised” you?


Thank you for saying that. Writing the story about Henry's illness is still one of my proudest accomplishments. I don't know where it came from but I sat down one day and 10 hours later the recollection turned into words. I am so glad I wrote it down before I forgot what happened to our family.


A lot of things surprise me about motherhood, but a couple spring to mind instantly. First of all, why does nobody tell you how terrifying it is to take a baby home from the hospital? Oh yes, it's supposed to be such a biological imperative that moms just "know" how to take care of a baby but, ummm...no. Secondly, the nurses at the Beth Israel in Boston told us that you know what kind of baby you are bringing home when you leave the hospital. I cannot believe how right they were.


What a touching story...thanks for turning me on to both this story, and this website, Cheryl! Well done!


Great interview...her story brought tears to my eyes...what an inspiration


Loved this article...honest and down to earth questions and answers. Hearing how other moms do it especially the ones with crazy fun careers like this makes us better moms in many ways. Thank Kay and Cheryl!


I find it very interesting to read about how other moms make things work. And in this case, how she balances her professional life with her home life!! And I got a chuckle out of the "going to another tupperware convention" comment. Because its so true. If its around all the time they want nothing to do with it!!!


What a wonderful interview. I appreciate her honesty in admitting that like the rest of us, she struggles with balance. And I miss the art of handwriting as well. I had many pen pals as a child and I wish my kids had been able to experience that .


What a great article! I have to admit that I did not know who Kay Hanley was before reading, but thanks to your great article, I am glad to know of her! I read her blog also and the story of her son's illness made me cry. What an incredible story! Lori


Kay does rock in every meaning of the word! Like you, Chelle, I wept at the story of Henry's experience. Once you've had that "scare" as a mother, nothing compares. (Love your daughter's recall, too!)
Thanks for taking the time to comment.


Kay Hanley rocks. Being a Masshole myself, I listened to Letters to Cleo. Saw Kay play at a Fenway at a Hot Stove Cool Music concert. Then I heard she was touring with Miley. Well, while we sat in the Worcester Centrum, 12th row, I told my daughter all about this cool singer who happened to be up on stage with Hannah herself. I became cool mom for a moment. Then, about a month later, I met Kay at the Paradise in Boston at another Hot Stove Cool Music concert. She was so sweet and friendly, and just seemed so down to earth. We even talked about her kids. And the next morning, I told my daughter I got to meet Kay Hanley. She said, "Mom, isn't she that cool singer who was one of Miley's back up singers?". Didn't think she'd remember, but she did.
Oh, and Kay's story about Henry made me cry as I read it. I've made that trip down the empty southeast expressway late on a Friday with my child, and there's nothing scarier. Thank you Kay, you are one of a kind!