With her rock band, The Mrs., philanthropist and drummer Andra Liemandt delivers a message of empowerment and acceptance for women in Austin and beyond.
When she frst picked up drumsticks six years ago, Andra Liemandt thought she was simply learning a new skill. But now, as a leader of The Mrs., an allfemale rock band, the Austin-based 41-year-old mother of two is on a mission to empower women with a national campaign centered on the idea of self-acceptance. Their videos have reached millions of viewers, and their message has taken off in ways she never could have foreseen.
Already a well-known philanthropist along with her husband, Joe, the founder and CEO of Austin-based software company Trilogy, Liemandt has embraced music as another outlet for creating change. She had never picked up an instrument in her life until she was 35 and looking for music lessons for the eldest of her two daughters. A piano teacher talked her into giving it a try and meeting regularly with other moms who were learning to play.
“Starting a band,” Liemandt recalls, “was probably the furthest thing from my mind.” But excited by her progress, she recruited her best friends to join her. “I’m doing this thing, and it feels really cool,” she told them. How about starting a band club? No performing, she promised, just a once-aweek jam session—kind of like a book club.
Those sessions grew into something with a purpose. Two years ago, Liemandt, Larissa Ness, Mandy Prater, Jennifer Zavaleta, and Jenny Mason—all in their 30s and 40s—formed The Mrs. They weren’t hearing their own lives represented in pop music; they all shared experiences of feeling inadequate—as mothers, career women, wives. So they decided to smash that narrative. “I’m enough; I’m enough; I’m enough; I’m enough; no more telling me who I need to be,” they belt in “Enough,” their catchy pop-rock debut single. To bring the powerful lyrics of “Enough” to life, The Mrs. created a music video featuring an interactive mirror that asked women to rate how they felt—from “WOOF” to “hot mess” to “I’m enough.” The mirror then talked back with personalized, encouraging responses when the women voiced negativity.
“Only all right?! Why do you say that?” the Magic Mirror asks one woman in the “Enough” video, which has been viewed almost 5 million times on YouTube. “Instead of dropping out of college, you brought your daughter along the whole time. Even when things were difficult, you kept on going,” it reminds another.
“We had no idea the thread of the unifying message we were putting out there…. we could join forces with so many different organizations and really life them up.”—Andra Liemandt
“We had no idea the thread of the unifying message we were putting out there,” Liemandt says. When a range of organizations—from anti-bullying nonprofits to the National Eating Disorders Association and breast cancer survivor groups— started reaching out to the band, Liemandt sprung into action. “We realized that we could join forces with so many different kinds of organizations and really lift them up.”
The Magic Mirror, which has appeared everywhere from Good Morning America to the Mall of America, is now reaching even more women through The Mrs. Magic Mirror App. In addition to their national #ImEnough campaign, The Mrs. play many fundraisers around town and partner with nonprofits dedicated to women and children, such as Hand to Hold, which supports mothers of premature babies. And in May, The Mrs. premiered the video for their newest single, “You Told Me,” during their live Mother’s Day concert event at Radio City Music Hall, hosted by Jenny McCarthy. The video portrays mothers through generations and celebrates the words of wisdom they impart.
The music and technology scene in Austin is “why we’re able to do what we’re able to do,” says Liemandt. “At the drop of a hat, I can find someone to help us with any music thing that we need,” she says. The band has been mentored by Kathy Valentine, formerly of the Go-Go’s and now with The Bluebonnets, and they work closely with Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel. “Austin,” Liemandt gushes, “is just one of those places where you reach out and people are like, ‘How can I help?’”
Liemandt and her husband continue to give back by generously supporting dozens of organizations in the Austin area, including Seton Healthcare Family. Talking with the drummer, though, you get the sense that the act of philanthropy that has been most personally rewarding has been the giving of herself—the act of sending a message of empowerment to women through her band.
“As a mom of two daughters, it gives me hope that I can do something so special,” Liemandt says, breaking off a bit. “Ah! Sorry, it makes me emotional,” she laughs and continues, her voice shaky but strong. “I love playing music, and I love what I do. Even more than that, I love that they see me doing something that helps other women out there. And that really gives them something to look up to…. It makes me proud.”