Nearing 2 decades in the music industry, Plumb is set to release Exhale on May 4th. The album is full of honesty and transparency that Plumb has always put in her music. Plumb and I recently spoke about the new record, being a woman in CCM, and accountability.
Gabe: You have a new album coming out Exhale. Would you call it a worship album?
Plumb: It’s not really a worship album. It’s really just another album from me that’s more worshipful just because of what I’ve been through. The records I make are a reflection of where I am at the time. This is the first time I’ve been in a really thankful, worshipful place. But I didn’t want to confuse it with a worship album…it’s just more worshipful.
Gabe: I really appreciate the songs that are about being broken. Your career has been full of songs about honesty and transparency. How important is that to you to make those kinds of songs?
Plumb: There’s no point in doing this if the songs aren’t like that! It’s the main artery of what I do in life. I think it’s super important.
Gabe: But how hard is it to put yourself out there like that?
Plumb: I’m sure it’s different for most people but it’s pretty therapeutic for me. It’s also a responsibility and a privilege at the same time. Either things I’ve heard about or things I’ve went through myself…We can all learn from each other’s stories and experiences. We can get a lot of hope from that. Everything comes back to hope. When people feel hopeless in their situations it affects the decisions that they make, the choices they make, their mindset and thought process. Having hope is key. People sharing their stories of all kinds of different circumstances is one of the many ways God can use those experiences to give someone hope. So I’m sharing stories. A lot of them are mine and a lot of them are ones I’ve encountered. They’re true stories put to music. They’re to connect with someone who is going through a similar situation or emotion…and to help them feel like they are not alone. Feeling like you are not alone is one of the true factors in someone believing that there is hope regardless of the situation that you are in. The only way to do that is to be honest, to be real, to be raw.
Gabe: I think that definitely is key. And I think there’s a lot of CCM artists that miss that. I know people in my own life that have been impacted positively from your honesty… What is it like being a female in CCM? It seems like it’s a male-dominated industry. There’s not a whole lot of women that stay in it very long. How has that experience been like for you?
Plumb: I’ve kinda liked it! I think your voice can be heard a little more, a little louder, and a little stronger when you’re not competing with voices that are just like yours. I think for everyone to be true to who they are…there’s a uniqueness that comes with that, whoever you are. Regardless of how many of us there are, I think if we’re true to us, our uniqueness is a great amplification of what we have to say. But I would say the more the merrier! But I’ve not found it difficult. I think sometimes it’s been to my advantage just to be heard more clearly. But at the same time, we all have different stories and experiences…so the more sharing the better!
Gabe: What do you think the reasons are that there aren’t as many women as men in CCM?
Plumb: Traditionally speaking, especially with upbringing in the church, the wife usually follows the role of staying at home and raising the children. It’s less common for them to leave the nest and be the one that’s out helping to provide or being the main source of income. I think if you list every active female artist that is out there, there’s a significant amount that are single or just newly married…or a new mom who once their children hits school age, they reduce their time as an artist. You see a drastic reduction in how many female artists there are because of their responsibilities on the home front. And I think that’s beautiful and incredible that women make that sacrifice. I’ve been able to do this with a 6, 8, and 10 year old because I married the greatest man I’ve ever known. We tag team and he’s been the biggest supporter of what I do. My children come out a lot of the time. I homeschool some of them. We just make it work because we feel like this is what God has called us to do. I’m at the age where artists start to pull back but I’ve done the direct opposite of that! I pulled away drastically when they were born. I called it quits as far as touring was concerned for almost 5 solid years. I think that made it easier to come back now that they are school age. I’ve been really thankful how well received it’s been. It’s almost like I never left! There’s a female artist, I won’t mention her name, that pushed through those first years of her child’s life. Now they’re school age and she’s burnt out. And she feels like she’s missed so much. So now when she is home off the road, they’re at school. That made me thankful for what I did. I stayed home when they were little and once they go to school is when I’m gone more often. And I still limit my touring to mostly weekends so they can often come with me .
Gabe: When you are out on the road, what are some ways you keep from getting burnt out? And on top of that, how do you stay accountable?
Plumb: You can get burnt out telling the same story sometimes. Because you’ve told it so many times, you think it might be getting old to your audience. It takes a good community to remind you that there’s fresh ears hearing the story every night. And if there’s someone that has heard it before, they’re coming back for seconds. And to answer your question about accountability, it’s all about community. Having a strong community in your life whether they’re out on the road with you or not. They’re holding you accountable to who they believe God created you to be regardless of what your career is doing or not doing. I’m really grateful for that. I feel like I’m a very rich woman if you were to account for community being valuable. I have a great community that is supportive and keeps me accountable. I belong to a church that has really carved out a means for touring artists to be a part of the connected church. We have an online community so we can watch the sermons online live. The service is right there for you. And then when you’re home, if we get into a series, you don’t have to feel like you’re missing out on the journey your church is on. And when you’re home, you get to rub shoulders and have conversations with those people….as opposed to being completely disconnected. And you have to be intentional about that. You can’t pity yourself hoping people miss you when you’re gone. Part of it is your choice and part of it is a response to a calling. I think God has called me to do this but He also created me to be intentional about certain things. I can’t just expect them to fall in my lap. Whether that’s planning on getting coffee with a close friend once a month or making sure we are in church when we’re home…or even staying in community with our pastor. We stay accountable to a counselor as well…just being intentional about putting that on the calendar at the beginning of every month. Being intentional about doing these things regardless of how busy we get. That effort can seem very tedious…but any time we have been intentional about putting it on the calendar, we’ve never regretted it. When we get lazy and aren’t intentional, we end up regretting that. It’s kind of like exercise. It does take work! God just doesn’t let us perfect health. We have to make good choices!
Gabe: What are some things you appreciate more now than you did at the beginning of your career?
Plumb: I would definitely say a loyal community. When I first started, we were still building one. It’s encouraging to see people come out to concerts say “I’ve been following you since you started.” That’s very rewarding! You just feel like they’ve been a part of it and it’s just been some flash in the pan. And at the same time, to be making new fans…To hear someone say “I’ve never heard of you before tonight” is exciting! It’s not like I’m an artist that everyone has heard of. Typically, if there’s an artist that’s been around for a significant amount of time, you’ve probably heard of them…but maybe you just weren’t into them.
It’s been really exciting to still be someone that people say “I’ve never heard of you.” Just because I’ve been someone that hasn’t been over-commercialized. I really haven’t been! There’s a season in my life where I wish I had been…I wanted everyone to know who I was! But it’s been really rewarding to have a loyal fan base that has just continued to grow. I didn’t have this zero-to-a-million overnight story. I started out with one. And then I had 20. And then I had 50. And then I had 100. And it’s just been a consistent, constant build.
So I feel like I’m maintaining a sense of loyalty…and something about it is relevant enough that it’s still growing. It’s still being fresh and new to someone else. Every single night there’s someone that has never heard of me…they came because a friend invited them. And that keeps me motivated! It motivates me not to be stale…because we all know those artists where we ask “Why are they still doing it?” As an artist, I’m still in my teens. I started in 1997. So this will be my 18th year! I’ve been around awhile but to some, I’m still kinda new!
I just had breakfast with Dan Haseltine from Jars of Clay two days ago. We’re lifelong friends. We were talking and he said, “You’re gonna beat me” because Jars of Clay just passed 20 years. He said, “I think you’re just getting started and that you’ve officially came into your own….This story you’re getting to tell about the reconciliation of your marriage and the redemption of your home…plus your connection with women…your platform is just getting started.” That was so exciting and I felt really affirmed by that.
Gabe: You mentioned that there are fans that are new to you. For those fans…why the name ‘Plumb’? (laughs)
Plumb: Why not? No, I’m just kidding (laughs). That’s not the answer. It’s from a Suzanne Vega song called My Favorite Plum. I had her record 9 Objects of Desire on repeat in my apartment. I had accidentally put the song on repeat. So I kept hearing that song over and over. At one point I was just thinking: plum. And I love Suzanne Vega. Because as an artist and as a writer, she’s poetic and metaphorical. And she can sing at the same time.
And then my producer/co-writing partner, and best friend in music, Matt Brownlee…we were new friends at the time. We actually lived across the hall from each other in the same apartment complex. He joked and said “You should put a ‘B’ on the end of it so that it’s not just a fruit.” So I’ve gone on to joke that the ‘B’ in ‘Plumb’ means Brownlee because it was his idea! But it actually captures what I want it to be. I want it to be raw and real and honest and relevant. To me being raw and honest doesn’t have an expiration date. And it will always be necessary for someone to be that way. Whatever they’re going through…someone else is going to relate to that!
Gabe: That’s so cool! Thanks for your time. I appreciate it!
Plumb: Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it!
Don’t forget to check out Plumb’s new record Exhale on May 4th! And follow Plumb on Twitter: @plumbmusic