By Christopher Treacy
A New York based artist with a songwriting talent that should take her far, EVVAN’s “Mama You Taught Me” is our Song of the Week in the latest CQ Roundup. It’s quite pretty and it’s beautifully sung, but what really stands out is how the lyric so effectively captures the reciprocal mother-daughter bond from birth into adulthood, when roles begin to reverse. For EVVAN, formerly Evan Petruzzi, this is her first single since 2021’s Home EP, and it’s hard-hitting. Released just in time for Mother’s Day, we got to ask her a few questions about it.
“Mama You Taught Me” captures one of those rare moments of looking back and looking forward with clarity regarding one central relationship. Did it come to you all at once or were you working on it for a long time?
This song came to me and was written within 10 minutes. That sounds so wild but sometimes this is what happens. When I wrote this, it was as if I blacked out. As I inhaled, I put the pen to paper. And as I exhaled, the song was done. A friend had told me she was pregnant, and on top of that, I was having a bad day and my mom comforted me in a way only she could do. With those two events happening so closely together, I had a moment where this one phrase that became the name of the song—Mama, you taught me—came into my mind and I needed to write it.
For queer folks, sometimes this particular relationship gets destroyed or damaged. But you took it back to basics, before any of that could happen: “For nine months we were inseparable, you carried me while I was vulnerable…” Were you thinking at all about the familial estrangement that some of us experience when you wrote the song? Because the way you lay it out, the love is just undeniable, regardless of circumstances. It’s hard to argue with it.
It’s hard not to have that thought in mind when writing, listening, and feeling the song. There’s an inherent vulnerability when you’re an infant that’s directly mirrored in the vulnerability you feel when you experience adversity in any other point in your life. I know folks who have that familial estrangement and I feel that pain in my own way. I’ve dealt with hate and violence based on the fact that I am being my authentic self. There’s such a paralyzing vulnerability there. For me, this song is for my mom, but it has an even bigger message in being for any parent, guardian, or important person in your life who has helped you learn to be who you are and has encouraged and accepted you.
This track is your first self-produced release. Was that daunting?
This was the first song I released where I wrote, recorded, produced, and performed it all. I was a bit nervous and scared to put it out there because what if it flopped or didn’t resonate the way I wanted? After taking a moment to breathe, I remembered the real reason I am doing this, which is simply because this is who I am and this is what I love. For someone like me, who has all these emotions regarding what’s happening in the LGBTQ+ community, this is my escape and I hope I can provide that for others feeling similarly. I believe music is the strongest form of communication. Maybe it can be the bridge we need to move forward.
The musical treatment is fairly simple, but it does build some. Was it tempting to leave it as just an acoustic finger-pattern song, or did you hear it as something bigger from the get-go?
This definitely started as a solely finger-pattern song. I heard so many different possibilities in my head for where it could go, but once I sat and started recording, I knew exactly where it was meant to go. I wanted simplistic and warmth, something that builds but still feels like a safe haven. With producing this myself, I had free reign, which is not to say I don’t have that with other collaborations. This allowed me to approach it from an angle I haven’t explored before as the song told me where it wanted to go.
Are you working on a new EP or a full length? What’s coming down the pike for EVVAN?
There’s always stuff cooking! I do have some new material that will be coming out in the coming months. Possibly something for Pride? Y’all will have to wait and see! But I am always writing and recording so definitely buckle up for this next chapter. It’s going to be a fun one.
Christopher Treacy has been writing about music and the music industry for 20 years. He’s contributed to The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Herald, Nashville Scene, and Berklee College of Music’s quarterly journal, as well as myriad LGBTQ+ outlets including the Edge Media Network, Between the Lines/Pride Source, Bay Windows and In Newsweekly. He lives in Buffalo, NY.
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