We know Mother’s Day has already passed, but we aren’t quite done appreciating mums yet (are we ever?). To keep the celebration going, we’ve compiled a list of 5 legendary Australian mums with gifted daughters who are keen to follow in their musical footsteps. All of these mothers are absolute forces who are still actively gigging – except for Olivia Newton-John, obviously (RIP) – so we encourage you to seek out their shows and also familiarise yourselves with/support the work of their talented offspring (NB: stay tuned for future Emma Donovan gigs featuring her little ones).
Deborah Conway That MTV Video Music Awards performance
A founding member of Do-Ré-Mi – yeah, you definitely know them: they had a Top 5 hit with their song that went, “Your pubic hairs are on my pillow…” (1985’s Man Overboard – so progressive!) – Deborah Conway, 1992’s Best Female Artist ARIA recipient, also enjoyed a Top 20 solo single with It’s Only The Beginning. In 2022, Conway was inducted into the Music Victoria Hall of Fame.
Nowadays, Conway releases music with her husband, guitarist and musical collaborator Willy Zygier (under Deborah Conway & Willy Zygier). Deborah and Willy’s three ridiculously talented daughters – Syd, Alma and Hettie – all sing beautifully and feature on Into The Blue (from Deborah Conway & Willy Zygier’s 2010 album, Half Man Half Woman). Keep a keen eye out for Alma Zygier performing at a venue near you! We thoroughly recommend her jazz-inflected, Judy Garland vibes.
Did you know? In the ABC TV series Sweet And Sour, the Tracy Mann character’s singing voice was supplied by Deborah (including the hit title song).
Last month, Kate Ceberano closed Renée Geyer’s public memorial service at The National Theatre in St Kilda with a goosebump-inducing rendition of the late legend’s trademark song, It’s A Man’s Man’s World – reminding us what she’s made of while also honouring Australia’s white soul kween, gone too soon. Kate’s weekly streamed Friday night lockdown sessions – for which guest artists such as Tania Doko, Dallas Frasca and Rick Price Zoomed in – kept us sane and gave us something to look forward to when we badly needed it. The production values inside Casa Ceberano were next level, too.
She had already been in a couple of bands including Expozay and Hoagy Cats, but Kate was still in her late teens when she started fronting the so-ahead-of-their-time funk-pop band I’m Talking alongside Zan Abeyratne. And Kate’s daughter Gypsy has obviously inherited her mum’s incredible singing ability (see above clip from 2016’s Carols By Candlelight).
Whether you remember Marcia from back when she moved to Sydney from Boston, Massachusetts to star in the Australian production of the musical Hair or as the kind, encouraging judge on Australian Idol’s OG panel (from 2003 to 2009), you’ve gotta admit she’s an absolute trailblazing icon. Inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2007, Marcia received the Order of Australia (AM) in 2009 for her services to the Australian Entertainment Industry as a performer, judge and mentor, and to the community through a range of charitable organisations. And let’s not forget that Marcia was voted Queen of Pop by TV Week’s readers for three consecutive years (from 1976 onwards).
Of late, Marcia has been starring as The Diva (of course!) in Velvet Rewired, which is billed as “an extravaganza of music, dance and circus”. Marcia was just 16 when she birthed Deni, after discovering she was six months pregnant upon arrival in Australia to start rehearsing for Hair.
And if you haven’t given Deni’s banger It’s Alright a spin for a while, we thoroughly recommend…
How are we only just discovering Olivia Newton-John (Rest In Power) released a duet with her daughter Chloe Lattanzi called Window In The Wall in 2021!? This song’s accompanying music video was filmed at Olivia’s stunning property in California. The story goes that although Olivia – who won four Grammys and sold 100 million albums worldwide throughout the course of her illustrious career – hadn’t really planned on recording again, she changed her tune after a woman she met at a health clinic sent her this song. “I’ve always enjoyed singing duets more than singing on my own, and when I first heard this song, I knew immediately that I wanted to sing it with my daughter Chloe,” Olivia shared around the time of Window In The Wall’s release. “The lyrics and melody really resonated with me, and I hoped Chloe would feel the same way – and luckily, she did!”
Chloe’s mum and dad, Matt Lattanzi, met on the set of Xanadu. When Chloe competed in Dancing With The Stars in 2020, Olivia was often clocked in the studio audience watching on and looking super-proud. Side note: Window In The Wall appears on Olivia Newton-John’s latest release, Just The Two Of Us: The Duets Collection (Vol. 1) – out now. Support ONJ’s legacy: Join Olivia’s Walk For Wellness, virtually or in person, at Melbourne’s Alexandra Gardens on 8 October, 2023 to raise funds for Olivia Newton-John’s Cancer Wellness & Research Centre. More info here: https://www.walkforwellness.com.au/ Emma Donovan
Okay, so this one’s more of a ‘Watch This Space’, because Gumbaynggirr and Yamatji soul queen Emma Donovan’s girls are both still under six years old. But we absolutely adore Emma’s mini-album Follow The Sun (2022), which was commissioned by ABC Kids and features original songs – penned by her – alongside much-loved classic children’s tunes such as I Can Sing A Rainbow, Once I Caught A Fish Alive and Baba Blacksheep (sung in Noongar and Gumbaynggirr, to represent the languages spoken by her ancestors). Because there weren’t any kids albums celebrating Aboriginal identity when she was growing up, Emma was understandably thrilled to participate in this project. She fronts the fabulous, award-winning outfit Emma Donovan & The Putbacks and if you look closely at the cover of their latest album, 2021’s Under These Streets, you’ll see her little daughters immortalised in the beautiful artwork by Aretha Brown.
During an interview with this scribe last year, Emma admitted she was hesitant to invite the girls out on stage for a sing during one of her shows at that point. “The only reason is: I know they’ll just love it and wanna do it all the time – they’ll take over the gigs!” she predicted, laughing.
As it happens, Emma wasn’t much older than her eldest daughter when she first started performing in The Donovans, with her mum and five uncles. Did you know? Emma and Casey Donovan – former Australian Idol winner-turned musical theatre star (The Sapphires, 9 To 5, & Juliet plus more) – are cousins.