Singer Stacie Orrico says what's important is becoming more clear to her
Music videos. Platinum record. Grammy nomination.
It might sound exciting but Stacie Orrico knows there’s gotta be more to life than chasing down every temporary high.
“I’m not driven by the kudos and awards and accolades. … I definitely do it for the people I’m trying to speak to,” said Orrico, while taking a break earlier this month from her break-neck schedule.
Amid the escapades of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, it’s hard to believe that a 17-year-old would think like that, let alone find success saying it. However, “(There’s Gotta Be) More to Life” is riding high on MTV, her self-titled CD has sold almost 2 million copies around the world and she was just nominated for a Grammy for best pop/contemporary Gospel album.
While the disc “Stacie Orrico” is a mainstream hit, it’s not surprising that the Grammy folks would list it under a Gospel category. Orrico got her start in the contemporary Christian market with 2000’s “Genuine,” a pop-oriented CD that explored the interests and concerns of typical teens.
Her new disc has more of a R&B flavor with a hint of jazz here and there. That’s not a surprise since Orrico counts Lauryn Hill and Ella Fitzgerald among her musical influences.
Once again, Orrico explores the trappings of teen life. However, her music, message and voice are richer and much more mature this time around.
The disc’s first hit was “Stuck,” which practically made her a regular on MTV’s “Total Request Live.” The lyrics — “I hate you, but I love you, I can’t stop thinking of you” — describe the duel between the head and heart in a relationship gone wrong.
Orrico said she bases her songs on her own experience. “Stuck” isn’t about a specific guy “but there are times when I’ve ended up in my room crying over someone.”
The second hit, “More To Life,” resulted in a visually stunning video that has Orrico playing a variety of characters seeking to fill their lives with temporary highs. Of course the message is that there’s more to life than that. To emphasize the point, Orrico released a special CD with a collection of remixes of the song — all sandwiched within a Bible study.
Next month, she will release a video based on the ballad “I Promise,” which is about commitment.
As her music has matured and become more popular in the last two years, her life has become more hectic. In addition to doing scores of interviews, she has appeared as a 1960’s singer on the TV show “American Dreams,” as a Grammy announcer and in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Her personal life also changed dramatically when her parents moved to Seattle and she started life on her own.
“The last two years have been the most difficult of my entire life,” she said. “I’ve been having crazy growing pains. … It’s been some of the most challenging years of my life but some of the most exciting.”
However, this has also helped her focus.
“It’s become more clear to me what my priorities are. … This is awesome and this is exciting but it’s not any more exciting than what I’ve experienced with my family and what I’ve experienced in my relationship with the Lord.”
Her experiences with family — including a one-year missionary stint in Ukraine — are especially important to her. She still talks to her parents “every single day” and gives them a lot of credit for her accomplishments.
While Orrico’s music and message flow from her faith, she isn’t happy with labels. “I didn’t like the term ‘Christian music’ because it sounds like a style of music…. I’m an R&B artist,” she said. “… There’s a place for albums that are quoting scripture but I want to write about what happens when ... I’m having an eating disorder, when my parents are getting a divorce.”
Early in her career, Orrico toured with Destiny’s Child and learned that teens from all backgrounds are the same.
“Teenagers are teenagers and they are dealing with the same things whether they are Buddhists or atheists,” she said. “… All of us teenagers are trying to find our place in the world ... and struggling to be independent but aren’t really ready to be.”
Orrico will spend the next month on a promotional tour in Europe and a concert tour in Japan. She will perform in Fukuoka Feb. 16, Hiroshima Feb. 17 and in Tokyo Feb. 20 and 21.
While some of these venues are near U.S. bases, Orrico said her schedule is so tight that she doesn’t believe there will be any time for visiting American facilities. However, “I would definitely try to speak with them if they get a chance to come to the show.”
In the long term, Orrico hopes she can return the favors of all those who helped her career by sharing her experience with others, perhaps by establishing a school for young artists.
“I’m very interested in artist development,” she said. “… A lot of young artists, all they know is that they want to sing … and they don’t realize that there’s more to it.”