Amanda Anne Platt and her band produced their first two albums on their own and were preparing a third without drawing interest from a record label.
“It was hard. I think every time you experience any kind of rejection in the arts, it makes you question your validity as an artist, which doesn’t make sense,” Platt said. “The music business is not music. If you’re not having monetary success, it doesn’t make you any less of an artist. I still have to remind myself of that. Every day it’s hard.”
So when Platt signed with Organic Records, a label in Arden under the banner of Crossroads Entertainment and Marketing, she didn’t pause to consider Crossroads’ connection to Christian and gospel music. Organic has since released five studio albums from Platt and her band, the Honeycutters.
“There’s been a few little clashes,” Platt said. “I am not personally religious. I have absolutely no problem with religion. I think it’s a beautiful thing. I went to UNCA for a couple years trying to be a religious studies major -- dropped out of there too. But I don’t confine my music by any sort of spiritual affiliation.”
Platt is turning out her first live album through Organic -- “Live From the Grey Eagle,” a 25-song double-album recorded over two nights last November. It spotlights Platt’s clean, relaxed voice, turns-of-phrase storytelling and melodies that don’t always stay within the bounds of country music. The album-release show is June 21 at the Grey Eagle.
“We used to call ourselves Appalachian honky-tonk,” Platt said. “I think I had a sense of what I wanted to do but I also wanted to hide behind a genre. Who was I to just be like ‘My name is Amanda Anne Platt and you should listen to my songs?’ It was a lot easier to say I’m a country singer and I write country music. I’ve moved away from that the longer I’ve lived (in Asheville).”
You wouldn’t know it from her music, but Platt grew up about 20 minutes outside Manhattan. She moved away at 17 and discovered the banjo during her short time in college.
“I think it gave me a voice,” she said of the banjo.
“I always had these words and phrases coming to me, but I never understood how to put them together,” she said. “Once I had this banjo -- I could just do one strumming pattern too, it was just horrible, this banging -- but it gave me the structure to put a song together and to express feelings I’d just been bottling up and didn’t know what to do with.”
Platt met a luthier who lived in Asheville and moved here, in 2007, to study with him and built her own guitar. She fell into the communities of musicians at Jack of the Wood and the Westville Pub, giving rise to her first band and their first two albums, which led to their first record on the Organic label.
Platt is quick to say she wouldn’t be about to put out her sixth record through Organic if the label and relationship weren’t right for her.
“(But) there’s a lot of compromises that happen in the music business,” she said.
She relates a story of changing a lyric, at the label’s request, for the song “Hearts of Men” on the first album she made through Organic, “Me Oh My.” Asked about this, Mickey Gamble, the founder of Crossroads and Organic, said the change came at the suggestion of a radio promoter concerned the original lyrics would discourage airplay.
“I like making people happy,” she said. “So I felt like ‘OK, this is what was needed to happen to get this album out,’ and this is the album we’d been trying to get out for a long time, so let’s just put it out.”
Then, on her 2017 self-titled album, Platt pushed back at another request to change a lyric in the song “Eden.” Gamble attributed the issue to a board member of Crossroads put off by a line in the song.
“Specifically the term G-D. They did not want me to use that word,” she said. “I find it to be an expressive term and I felt it was extremely imperative to the structure of the song and what it’s about and I meant it literally. Ultimately, they’re ‘You’re the artist and we’re giving you artistic control,’ and that was the end of the story, but it was an issue for people who were there.”
For her next album, Platt’s said she’s poring through her vault of music she’s written and even recorded but never released. Some music, she said, is only meant for an audience of one.
“There’s things I need to work through and so I’ll write a song to help myself,” she said. “But I don’t feel it’s a song anybody else wants to hear and sometimes it’s a song I don’t want anybody else to hear.”