It's been quite a year for University of Connecticut instructor Nancy Parent, who also sings, writes songs, and is pedal steel player with The Rivergods. Parent has completed her doctoral thesis (which analyzed science education in contemporary Native American communities) and is getting ready to release her first solo album later this month.
Last December, Parent received a letter from her department head advising her to wrap up her work by May.
"I was in overdrive. I went from having written nothing to writing 230 pages," she said. "I had to write five pages a day. It came pretty quick. The analysis had been percolating for a few years. And I managed to write songs too —it was an intense time."
At night she would pull together old lyrics to help her mind unwind.
"When I think back, I don't know how I did that. But I did!" she laughed.
Parent will be performing in The Day's Live Lunch Break series at noon on Thursday, Oct. 25 (streaming live on theday.com) and her 12-track album, "Vision of Angels" releases Friday, Oct. 26, with a concert at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 19 Jay St., New London at 7:30 p.m. Dogbite and Dirt Road Radio are the opening acts. Suggested donation is $10, and CDs, wine and refreshments will be available for purchase.
"These songs, I've never really played with a band," Parent said. "It's exciting because we're also building the band from the ground up."
Those familiar with The Rivergods will hear music that is much more "folky and lyrical."
"There's a lot of different layers to it," she said. "It's introspective," but also socially minded.
Parent, who teaches anthropology and women studies, said political stakes "are very high for women right now, in terms of women's basic access to health care — especially for impoverished women. I think that sexism is really dangerously alive in some of these conservative candidates."
She said her Avery Point students are very attentive and tuned in to the issues in this year's presidential election.
"[College students] are often misunderstood as being apathetic, or absorbed in their technology and peer group. They get fired up about stuff but so many of the issues are so daunting, they don't know what to do about it," she explained.
"Through the Avery Point Learning Community, we've done a lot of critical analysis of consumerism, and how our consumerism oppresses people around the world. There is not a lack of concern or desire to get involved improving things. People get overwhelmed."