Tony Cummings runs through the life and times of Nashville-based singer/songwriter CAIT PLAGE
Cait Plage is a 24 year old independent artist based in Nashville whose infectious "Pieces" is currently high on the Cross Rhythms playlist. But there's a lot more to the young lady than that. Her official bio begins, "I'm a bubble-tea-sipping singer/songwriter who once voiced Japanese anime and loves a good seaweed salad."
Growing up in a strongly Christian home in Wilmington, North Carolina, Cait got her first guitar for her 14th birthday. Cait told M.E.X. magazine, "A major early influence of mine would definitely be Michelle Branch. When I first picked up the guitar at 14, she was my hero. I locked myself in my room for a week and learned all of her songs! Soon after, I fell in love with the music of artists Bethany Dillon, Joy Williams, Leigh Nash (Sixpence) and Tiffany Arbuckle Lee (Plumb) and started writing songs of my own, which were all extremely cheesy and terrible. I kept at it though and continued to write and grow in my artistry."
Cait continued, "I joined the worship team at my church and played out around my hometown throughout high school. During my time as a student at Liberty University, I was on one of Liberty's worship teams called Exodus. We toured every weekend, leading worship for different churches, camps and Disciple Now weekends. It was then I began recording a full length record with a producer at Liberty named Keith Smith and released it in March 2008."
That self-titled album was a good showcase for the singer/songwriter's growing talents and after some interest from some Nashville movers and shakers Cait took the bold decision to relocate to Music City. She remembered, "I packed every square inch of my little Honda and moved my life to Tennessee, finishing my last year of Liberty as an online student. It has been the adventure of a lifetime and I wouldn't trade it for anything! I've learned so much in these past couple years in Nashville than ever. I love this beautiful life and the amazing friendships God has blessed me with."
As it turned out Nashville's CCM industry was going through a period of financial crisis with companies dropping artists and struggling to survive. But Cait found a door opening for her in the unlikely field of the hugely popular Japanese animation genre, anime. Explained the singer, "I am a true nerd at heart. In middle school I was a closet anime/video game geek. Only a few of my friends knew of my love for these things. . . Somehow, I came across an online community of voice actors who dubbed primarily anime and soon found myself completely immersed in that world. I would spend hours upon hours every day recording lines, auditioning and 'hanging out' online with my VA friends. As strange as it may seem, I have so many fun memories from that time in my life and met some of my closest friends to this day in that community. But there's a lot more nerdiness/quirkiness where that came from. . ."
Almost as unexpected as her entrance into anime voice overs was Cait's move back into worship ministry. She recounted, "I received an email one day from a friend of a friend, who was in need of a worship leader for a Bible study she held Sunday nights at the Tennessee Prison for Women. I met up with the Bible study leader, who has since become such an incredible influence/mentor in my life, and I felt God leading me to say yes to this ministry. So I did, and it has radically changed my perspective on life and the importance of living out the Gospel, even when it's not always easy or comfortable. I love worshipping in prison, it is unlike anywhere else. Seeing the joy of the Lord shining in their eyes and such genuine faith expressed in their lives and testimonies has changed my life. I am so blessed and thankful to be a part of it."
Cait's EP 'All We Have Is Now', produced by Jacob Schrodt and CCM hitmaker Chris August, has produced the Cross Rhythms turntable hit "Pieces". It is the distillation of years of experiences - good and bad - for the singer/songwriter. Cait said, "These songs are definitely different than my previous album, but they are all recent stories of my life. I have literally cried and laughed writing them, and they are all true, representing who I am from a very honest place. They are pages from the most honest and raw places in my soul - places where I have struggled and fallen short. The songs reveal how God continues to pursue me and use me despite my weaknesses for his glory.
"During the past few years, I've had a lot of experiences and I have grown more in the past few years than ever in my life as I've learned, sometimes the hard way, what is truly important in this life. I've been feeling the pressing urgency more than ever to tell the world about Jesus. I am not promised another moment in this life and I need to make every second count for His Kingdom. So this record is really a compilation of stories from my recent years, the good and the bad, and the message God has placed on my heart to share right now.
"'Pieces' is a story about the heartache and frustration that goes along with falling for someone who is only in it for the rush of the 'chase' and can't quite seem to commit. I think a lot of us have a tendency to always see the best in people, which can ultimately lead to a false reality and false hope. . . Through this experience, I learned the necessity of actually taking the time to get to know people for who they really are (Facebook profiles aside!). 'Pieces' is also about having the courage to close a door when you know in your heart it's not right."
An equally powerful song on 'All We Have Is Now' is "Loaded Gun". It was particularly unusual for Cait in that it was written entirely at one sitting. She admitted, "It came 100 per cent from my heart and zero per cent from my head. . . and I cried, a lot, as I wrote it. This song is about the heartbreak of being disobedient to God. To put it bluntly, I fell in love with someone who was not a Christian, knowing it was not what God wanted. It fell apart, of course, and completely shattered my heart. I wrote the song the night I found out he was seeing someone new. One good thing about heartbreaking situations is the best songs seem to naturally flow out of them!"
The latest season of the singer/songwriter's life has had its share of heartaches. She shared on her blog recently, "Someone I am very close to was diagnosed with cancer and has undergone many hellishly painful treatments and surgeries. I have never seen anyone suffer so much in all my life. I've been there with this person every step of the way, and seeing someone have such a strong, faithful and thankful heart for God in such crazy hard circumstances has both inspired and convicted me. What will it take for me to have this kind of heart attitude - a heart that is so thankful even in the worst times, a faith that increases with every painful blow, and a fire and passion for God that only seems to burn brighter in the darkest hours of life. . . I just thank Jesus for this tangible example of being truly 'thankful in all circumstances' (1 Thess 5:18). Something will inevitably happen that will completely turn your life upside-down and change everything. This change may happen suddenly, out of nowhere, and force you to the ground. Will you choose to be thankful and hold onto the Only One who never changes? Will you fall on your knees in prayer? It's a challenge, and we have a choice. I was faced with this challenge. I am so thankful, because it's times like these that refine faith and make us stronger. Thank God for his incredible mercy and forgiveness. Thank God for his limitless love!"The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.