Betsy Brumley was born into a musical family. If you’ve ever sung from a church hymnal or attended a Gospel singing, you can probably hum one of her grandfather’s tunes.
Albert E. Brumley penned classics like I’ll Fly Away, Turn Your Radio On, and I’ll Meet You in the Morning. His songs have been recorded by a prestigious list of artists—from Jars of Clay, Kanye West, Alison Krauss, Aretha Franklin, and Elvis to the Boston Pops Orchestra. Now, Betsy is working to continue her family’s legacy.
You grew up around music. Was there ever a time when you wanted to pursue another career?
I grew up loving two things: music and flying, and with flying I wanted to see the world. So after I got out of college, I decided to work for an airline and see the world. I did that for about ten years. Then I got married and settled down into the family business. I really didn’t have a choice other than music. It comes naturally and I love it.
Do you have a favorite memory of your grandfather? Are you carrying on his tradition as a songwriter?
I was my Grandpa Brumley’s favorite. I used to sit in his writing room and watch him all the time. He had two couches in his room: one for him and one for visitors. I would go in and lie on the couch and talk to him. Then after we would talk for a while, we would play catch. I had a little green ball that I kept at Grandpa and Grandma’s house and we would play with that.
As far as writing, I have written one song, but I didn’t really get that part of Grandpa’s gift. He was also a visionary and a pretty savvy businessman. He created his own publishing company, Brumley Music, in 1942 so he could own of all his copyrights. I think I relate more to that side of him than the songwriter part.
I’ll Fly Away Productions, a company you started with your husband Kevin about five years ago, is involved in many aspects of the music business, including television, video, Gospel concerts, etc. What’s an average day like for you? Is there one aspect of your job you like the best?
I am so blessed to be able to work so closely with my husband, and our office is at the house so our commute is just a few steps. I am usually up first and I have my quiet time for an hour or so, then I start in on emails and the “to do” list. Then Kevin joins me and we go over what we have going and what happened the day before. We try and prioritize what needs attention the most, but most of the time our plan is interrupted by a phone call and our plans change.
I spend a lot of time on the phone with folks we are working with on our events or TV shows. There are many tiny details that need to be taken care of so I make sure it all works. When it comes to the events, I make sure the fans get an experience they will talk about forever, but I also take care of my volunteers, crew, and stars. I really believe every single person is important and should be respected for his or her contribution to the event. I try to make everyone feel important and appreciated.
Kevin spends most of his day on the computer. He perfects the website and does all the editing for our commercials and our travel TV shows. He does tons of research to make sure we are up on the latest trends and incorporates them into our business.
Kevin also does all the royalty tracking and disbursement. Our Brumley Sing DVD has 206 songs on it and that is a lot to keep track of. He keeps track of all the bills and the different TV stations and who is playing what. He has such a big job, I am not sure how he does it all.
I went to culinary school so I cook most every day. While I cook, Kevin cleans up and does the laundry and the household things that need attention. Then we watch the DVR in the evening to finish most days. Kevin has his quiet time in the evening after I go to bed.
I know that I live a truly blessed life and I am so appreciative of the opportunities and the legacy I am a part of.
Let’s talk specifically about your Biscuits and Bluegrass Alaskan Cruise. First of all, what a great name. Where did you get the idea for it?
Biscuits and Bluegrass is a joint business with my sister, Elaine and her husband Brad. We have wanted to do a cruise for ten years, but it just never worked out until now. We decided to ask some of our friends in the business to see if they were interested in doing it with us and everyone was so excited, so we said, “Let’s just do it and see what happens.” We decided to change it up a bit and do a little cooking as well, so all of our stars will be doing some cooking demos for the fans that come along, as well as all the picking and singing. We were trying to think of a good name for the cruise and Kevin just blurted out Biscuits and Bluegrass. We loved it.
Who are your special music guests for the 2011 cruise?
We have invited Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Ronnie Reno and the Reno Tradition, Little Roy and Lizzy, Monroe Crossing, and Christy Sutherland. We may add to the line-up in the future.
Christy’s husband Matt is Barbara Mandrell’s son and he is a chef. He will be making Barbara’s favorite biscuits on the ship for everyone to taste. So we really are having biscuits and bluegrass on the ship. I am really looking forward to watching all the music stars cook and the beautiful scenery of Alaska.
What other events are coming up?
In August we will be having the annual Brumley Gospel Sing in Lebanon, Missouri. We are in our forty-second year and still going strong. People call it the “Granddaddy” of Gospel sings. This will be August 4-7. Four days and 40,000 fans from all over the U.S. and about seven other countries.
We are also in the planning stages of our new event, “Brumley’s Tailgrass Party.” We will be incorporating tailgating with Bluegrass music. This will be next June in Northwest Arkansas.
At this time we are looking into having a talent contest during the day while people tailgate and then have the Grammy and IBMA winning artists in the evening for a ticketed event.
On Day 2, we plan to have a BBQ contest during the day and then more award-winning bands at night. We think it will be a hit. We really believe people love to incorporate music, food, and family.
The dates, line-up, and venue will be announced soon.
How does your faith play into your work?
I believe God plays into every aspect of my life. He is there with me all the time. Since I love what I do, I never really think I am working. I just live my life and God puts opportunities and people right in front of me, and I say, “Thank You,” and go with it. Sometimes things don’t turn out how I think they are going to, but I just wait a little while and then I see what God meant to happen and go, “Oh, I get it now.”
Has God ever provided an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive?
Oh my, yes. About five years ago I had a reaction to some chemicals, and I actually died and had to be brought back to life. It was an amazing experience, but after about a month of being home from the hospital, I woke up one morning and told Kevin that we needed to have our own TV show. Kevin said, ‘I know how to do that, I had TV courses in school.’ This was the first part of July. By October we had funding, and we shot our first show in April. Kevin and I had only been married about one and a half years, and I had no idea he knew anything about TV or how to produce a TV show. This was totally God.
Now we have our Live at the Brumley Sing TV show, and we produce some travel shows for a local station at home. We’re also wanting to take some cameras on the cruise with us and do some special shows from there.
A few fun questions…
This website is about music and writing, so I like to mix it up. What do you like to read when kicking back with a good book?
Actually, I am dyslexic so I really do not read much. But my favorite book was “Anne of Green Gables” growing up. I loved that she was never held by the constraints of others. She had her own way of doing things. I guess it reminds me of myself.
What is your favorite comfort food and why?
I usually want sushi. We have a great Korean place near us, and they actually deep fry this one roll, and that is what I want. So I can satisfy my love of sushi with my deep fried Southern traditions.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
I would want to be a classic song that touches people and continually earns royalties for a really, really long time.
Are you a major or a minor chord?
I’d say a major. I tend to be the root of things and make a strong base for everything I do. But I would definitely say I was a shape note, cause what you see is what you get. You can tell everything you need to know about me just by looking at me.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
I am a bit of several of them. I am a very strong female in the business world. I am tough, but fair. But I really am just the girl next door. I am not into makeup or taking forever to get ready. I’m just me.
I think I am a smidgen mysterious too. I think a lot and keep many things close to my chest until I am ready to reveal them, so sometimes people have to guess what I am up to. And as far as a super heroine, I think all women are. We raise our families, keep the household running, keep an eye on the bank account, and work to make our lives the best we can be. We are all wonderful super women. However, I do wish I had that invisible plane once in a while.
I’m a dog lover, so I have to ask. Do you have pets? If so, what’s your favorite breed of dog and/or cat?
I love cats, but Kevin is allergic, and we travel so much I think it is unfair to have an animal. I wouldn’t want to put the responsibility of my pet on someone else or board it when I am gone. I also would rather not travel with an animal, because I have found it can be disrespectful to others around me at meetings or other functions when we go somewhere. If I was home a lot, I would probably have a pet, but right now it doesn’t fit into my life.
Thanks, Betsy! It’s great to have you at DivineDetour.
For more information about the Biscuits and Bluegrass Cruise, visit www.biscuitsandbluegrass.com.
For more information about the Brumley Gospel Sing, visit www.brumleymusic.com/Gospel_Sing.html
For more information about I’ll Fly Away Productions, visit www.ifaproductions.com.