Up Close and At Home with Plumb
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CBN.com What's behind Plumb's latest album, Blink? Recently I was invited to talk to one of Contemporary Christian’s coolest rockers and now proudest mommy to find out. She’s recently been nominated for “Best Female Artist” for the CCM Reader’s Choice Awards. Her music continues to inspire millions outside of the church walls, with several of her hit songs making major motion picture soundtracks. As a young woman, I was always attracted to Plumb’s deep and edgy songwriting and lyricism. With the release of her latest album (October ’07) inspired by the birth of her two sons, Solomon and Oliver, I must admit… I expected to hear a matronly “Mrs. Tiffany Arbuckle Lee” on the other end of the phone.
“Hello, this is Plumb.”
'Whew. Tiffany is still Plumb,' I thought.
And, it took but a few seconds to realize how she still manages to live up to her stage name. Tiffany is still the same Plumb we all know and love, with even greater depth and rawness now that she has experienced much more life. This rocker and “mommy” knows best how to divvy the load between career and home life. What makes her even cooler now is that she not only manages her career well, but she is managing her household with passion, joy, and divine order…
“So, how do you like being a mommy, Plumb?” was my first question.
“I love it!” she exclaimed.
“What is a typical day like in your house?”
“It is never boring. I learn something new every day. I refuse to be one of those moms who complains about being a mother. Yes, it can be stressful and overwhelming at times, but I have a community of people around me of friends, family, and church that makes raising my children less overwhelming. One of the best things I did was ask for help. I have a helper who comes over three to four days a week to help out with laundry, dishes, and errands so I can spend time with them. She’s my third arm. She does the things I wish I had time for. When they’re napping, I songwrite. It makes it possible to be a Christian, wife, and mother. It’s possible because of all my help. I have moments of ‘What should I do?’ I’m not a perfect mom, but I don’t complain about it.”
Plumb knows the value of how "it takes a village to raise a child.” She realizes that not all mothers are in a position to hire a nanny, but says there are other options.
“I think it’s imperative to have your own life as a mother. A little time away is key. It’s not hard. Take $20 and give a high-schooler money, so you can go to Target by yourself one of these times,” she said.
And for Tiffany, part of being a good mother is maintaining her role as Plumb.
“To be a good mother, I need to be who Christ died for me to be and that is not just being a Christian and not just their father’s wife and a mother. Part of being a good mother for my boys is being a good songwriter. I’m being who God created me to be. Right now someone else is ironing for me, and I’m okay with that.”
She has wasted no time in her career. After the release of her previous album, Chaotic Resolve (2005), Tiffany found out she was expecting her second baby.
“Here I was, my album just came out, my son [Solomon] was one years old, and I’m pregnant again. I told the label I couldn’t do a fall tour. They were excited for me and said I should write during that time. My husband said I should write my lullaby record.”
Pen in hand, Tiffany became inspired by her pregnancy. Yet, she says she didn’t want to pigeonhole the album by zeroing in on only mothers. In fact, her fan base has been largely young women, myself being one of them.
Now, let’s delve into your album, Blink. When I first heard your song ‘In My Arms,’ I remember it distinctively. I was driving in my car and never correlated it to the relationship between a mother and her child.
“Yes, exactly. It transcends demographics. It’s inspired by my kids. It’s a beautiful album. People can fall asleep to it because it’s chill. It’s pure. I’ve had teenagers and single friends love this album, because it’s soothing, peaceful, and real.”
You have a connection with young girls in your music. Just today I was reading on your MySpace about a girl who said you helped her consider not killing herself, because of your song ‘Cut.’ Do you think this album would alienate those girls?
“Most people say that I’m real. If I write a song about good behavior and how frustrated I was as a kid because I had to be perfect, that’s me. I write about what I’m going through in that time. Their loyalty hasn’t been based on whether they like the album or not. They have been connected to my honesty. I didn’t want to make this album '2007-ish'. My cup overflows and affects my art. Once again, this is my diary to music. Those same fans can appreciate it. I’m making music God has given me the gift to make. I hope you love this. If you don’t, I’m not offended… I hope you do. My fan base looked up to me as a Christian and writer. Maybe they’ll look up to me as a mother.”
What would you like to tell young women about being a mother?
“When I became a wife, I understood the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church. That relationship became clear. We were one, and we both had different roles where we complemented and needed each other. It’s impossible to be a Christian by yourself. You need to be part of the body of Christ where you’re a member. Marriages don’t work because they’re trying to be independent by themselves. When I became a mother, I understood the magnitude of that love. Yes, I know how much I love my husband. But to love something just as much or different… We think God may love us more because we obey Him, but He loves all His children. In my house, when one boy is good and the other is throwing tantrums, my love is the same for both of my boys. Becoming a mother deepened my love for Christ and my understanding of God’s love and how I’m to love others.”
Do you have a favorite song on the album?
“’In My Arms’ is my favorite song. I love the message of how it parallels God with us and a mother and child. It sets a great tone for the record. It’s sweet, beautiful, and it still rocks. It’s a representation of the album and the message of the album. It’s for Solomon. Solomon says, ‘Mommy, is that my song?’ That is technically his song.”
“There’s another song on there called “Me.” Still 'till this day, I can hardly not tear up. It touches on the sacrifices of motherhood. ‘I just need some time to think, then I hear you, and what you need is Me.’ You realize that just the presence of you… the touch of your skin, your kiss… makes this person’s world safe. Everything is made perfect in their world, as long as you’re there. That’s a pretty big responsibility and privilege. At the end of the day, if I’m close by, everything is okay. These are potential men of God, and I get to participate in that training.”
Are there any other songs on the album that are close to your heart?
'Always' was inspired by my friend John and his wife, Lori. John’s parents in August of ‘06 were killed in a car accident. They were in their early 50s. I was scheduled to songwrite the day after and was talking to my co-writer and friend, Shawn. You never expect to bury your parents. On one hand, you grow up and get married, and you anticipate your parents will get older. I wonder what John’s mother would say to her little boy who’s now a man. I was grief-stricken for him. I wonder if she had thoughts before she died. ‘What about my boy?’ I thought she would scream out, ‘No matter what for the rest of your life, know I love you.’ It’s about how we outlive our mothers. Whether we know them or not, we all have mothers. It’s not possible to not love your children in some capacity. That’s just where I was that day. I didn’t know if 'Always' would end up on the album. We didn’t want every track to be about Solomon.”
And, what’s her next career move?
“Plumb is still the rock chick. I don’t think there will be a tour. This is a transition time for me. I am enjoying being a wife and mother and seeing how this album with touch lives. ‘In My Arms’ just made it to the movie trailer for the Keira Knightley film Atonement.
“I’m on cloud nine. This is my most timeless project. This is a record people will buy for new mothers or mothers who are struggling. It’s not just a cool album for ’08. It’s a beautiful piece of art.”
Comments? Email me.
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