- “Music is therapy for me. It's my outlet for every negative thing I've ever been through. It lets me turn something bad into something beautiful.”
- ―Amy Lee
Amy Lynn Hartzler (née Lee; born December 13, 1981), best known as Amy Lee, is an American singer-songwriter and classically trained pianist. She is co-founder and lead vocalist of the rock band Evanescence. She cites influences ranging from classical musicians such as Mozart to modern artists Björk, Tori Amos, Danny Elfman, Massive Attack, Portishead and Plumb. Along with her contributions to Evanescence, Lee has also participated on numerous other musical projects including Walt Disney Records' 2008 release of The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack ("Sally's Song"). Lee has performed collaborations with artists such as Korn ("Freak On A Leash"), Seether ("Broken"), David Hodges, Wagakki Band, and Bring Me the Horizon. Lee is also the American chairperson for the international epilepsy awareness foundation, Out of the Shadows. Revolver Magazine named Lee the #1 Hottest Chick in Hard Rock for their 2011 annual issue and she appeared on the front cover.
Amy Lee was born to parents John Lee, a disc jockey and TV personality, and Sara Cargill. She has two sisters, Carrie and Lori. Lee had a younger sister named Bonnie who died in 1987 at the age of three from an unidentified illness, and a brother Robby who died in 2018. The song "Hello" from Fallen has been reported to have been written for her late sister, as well as the song "Like You" from The Open Door. Amy took classical piano lessons for nine years. Her family moved to many places, including Florida and Illinois, and eventually settled in Little Rock, Arkansas, where Evanescence started. She briefly attended Middle Tennessee State University to study music theory and composition and later dropped out to focus on Evanescence.
In an interview on AOL Music, Lee said that the first songs she remembered writing were called "Eternity of the Remorse" and "A Single Tear". The first was written when she was eleven years old and wanted to become a classical composer, and the second was for an assignment when she was in the eighth grade.
Engagement and Marriage
Lee revealed during the live broadcast of MuchMusic's January 9, 2007, episode of Live @ Much, that she had become engaged the prior evening. She later confirmed on EvThreads.com that Josh Hartzler, a therapist and long-time friend, proposed to her. She noted in an interview that the songs "Good Enough" and "Bring Me To Life" were inspired by him. The couple married on May 6, 2007, and honeymooned near The Bahamas. She has posted on EvThreads that she is "now officially Mrs. Amy Hartzler." The couple's first child, Jack Lion Hartzler, was born on July 24, 2014. They lived in New York from 2006 until 2019 when they moved to Nashville, TN.
Amy co-founded the rock band Evanescence with guitarist Ben Moody. Apparently, the two met at a youth camp after Moody heard Lee playing Meat Loaf's "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" on the piano. While this rumor went around for a very long time and everyone believed it, Amy later on claimed that it wasn't true and that she "never played a song by Meat Loaf" and "never will".
Within a month, the pair were playing acoustic sets at Arkansas book stores and coffee houses, and they eventually recorded two EPs, Evanescence EP (1998) and Sound Asleep EP (1999), selling them at various local venues. In 2000, Evanescence recorded their first album; Origin. This rather as demo counted album contains three songs from the debut album Fallen and was written by Lee and Moody, Whisper, Imaginary and My Immortal. Whereas "Whisper" and "Imaginary" were altered before being included on Fallen, "My Immortal" is virtually unchanged, apart from additional string arrangements. A later band version of "My Immortal" was made available for download for those who had bought an official version of Fallen through their web site, but required that a CD checker program also be downloaded for verification before it would play. The band version was included on later copies of Fallen, notably the Brazilian, Bolivian, and Argentine editions.
On October 22, 2003, Moody left the band citing "creative differences". In an interview several months later, Amy said: "...we'd gotten to a point that if something didn't change, we wouldn't have been able to make a second record". She also said "We're finally a real band, not just Ben and I and a few others thrown together". Ex-Cold guitarist Terry Balsamo replaced Moody in the band, both on guitar and as Lee's writing partner.
On December 1, 2005, former Evanescence manager Denis Rider filed a US$10 million lawsuit against Lee for breach of contract. The suit claims Rider was prematurely and unjustly terminated from his position as manager of Evanescence, just one album into a three-record deal.
In return, Lee filed a counter-suit against Rider for "'breach of fiduciary duty,' sexual assault and battery, professional negligence and currency conversion, among other claims." The suit also claims Rider "neglected Lee's career and business and has focused his efforts on having extramarital affairs, hiding them from his wife, becoming intoxicated during business meetings, physically abusing women and boasting about it, making repeated unwelcome sexual advances toward Lee, receiving fees in excess of what was provided for in his management agreement and using Lee's corporate credit card to purchase gifts for his mistress."
Rider's attorney, Bert Deixler, claimed in a statement that since Rider became the group's manager in 2002, he had fully performed all of the duties and obligations owed by the firm under the management agreement, and that he had always conducted himself by the highest professional standards.
The Open Door
The band's second album, The Open Door, was released in October 2006. It saw Amy stepping up for herself and the band, as well as allowed Amy to experiment more with Evanescence's sound. More than a break-up record, Amy sees it as "a breaking up with a lot of things and a lot of people." She added, "I hear myself singing for freedom, and standing up for myself instead of being a broken little girl sitting in the corner, crying about how hard life is, which you can hear a little bit of on Fallen. It’s me standing up and taking control."
The lyrics on the new album are looking for the answers, looking for the solutions, looking for happiness. It’s not, “I’m miserable, end of song.” It’s more, “I’m miserable, and what do I have to do to work this out and get out of this bad situation.”
Comeback and self-titled third album
After wrapping the Open Door Tour in late 2007, Amy and the band took a five-year break in which Amy focused on being herself, being a wife and learning the harp, which she got it as a gift from her husband. In mid 2009, Amy announced on Evanescence.com that the band were working on new material that would be released in 2010.
"I can't expain how excited I am to make this record," said Amy Lee. "Over the past year and a half these songs have become the center of my life, and I can't wait to hear what they grow into in the studio. I think our sound is evolving into something that will surprise people, in a very good way. I feel, as always, that growth can be an incredible, limitless thing if you let it. I never want to make the same album twice."
In February 2010, the band entered the studio to work on the album, which was described as containing "a rainbow of sounds", having songs "that are amazingly heavy and [others] completely stripped down" and incorporating electro sounds. The recordings were suspended in April that year, with Amy saying they needed "to get our heads into the right creative space" and suggested the label was going through "uncertain times" which would hinder the album's release. However, it was later revealed the label scrapped the material recorded in the 2010 sessions.
In April 2011, the band re-entered the studio with a new producer and took three songs from the original sessions and reworked them. Recordings ended in July that year, and the album, titled Evanescence, was released in October 2011.
The Ultimate Collection
In 2016, the band released a 6-LP vinyl box set titled The Ultimate Collection, which includes the band's three studio albums, plus Origin, a B-sides compilation album Lost Whispers (which includes the long-sought after tour intro "Lost Whispers" and a piano/vocal version of "Even In Death"), and a picture booklet with photos, lyrics, journal pages, designs and sketches.
Synthesis and "The Chain"
In November 2017, the band released their fourth studio album, Synthesis, which focuses on reworked versions of past material with "electronica and orchestra", plus two new compositions, "Imperfection" and "Hi-Lo". The latter is an outtake from the band's self-titled third studio album.
The Bitter Truth
Their fifth studio album, The Bitter Truth, was announced in April 2020, and it was released in pieces throughout the year. By September, the album was "seventy per cent" finished, though no release date was given because lyrics were still being written. The album was released on March 26, 2021 and contain 12 tracks, including Evanescence outtake "Take Cover".
In August 2014, Lee released her first solo album, Aftermath, which serves as the soundtrack to Mark Jackson's indie film War Story. Apart from songs that were used on the film, it features songs that were inspired by it. The score was made in collaboration with Dave Eggar and Chuck Palmer.
In late 2015, Lee started releasing covers that she recorded in her home studio. The first song from the collection was Portishead's 1994 song "It's A Fire", followed by U2's 1987 song "With or Without You" on November 10, 2015, Led Zeppelin's 1971 song "Going to California" on December 1, 2015, and Chris Isaak's 1996 song "Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing" on December 15, 2015. They were all included on Lee's first EP, Recover, Vol. 1, released in January 2016.
In September 2016, Lee released her second solo album, Dream Too Much, a children's album inspired by her son Jack and recorded with her family. It consists of eight original songs and four cover songs.
In May 2017, she released "Speak to Me", the end title song of Voice from the Stone. She also released "Love Exists", an English language cover version of "L'amore esiste" by Italian singer Francesca Michielin.
Lee has a recognizable fashion style, marked by her occasional use of gothic make-up and taste for Victorian styled clothing. She also designs many of her own clothes, including those worn in the music video for Going Under, the dress she wore at the 46th Grammy Awards 2004, and the dress worn for the cover of The Open Door. After she designed the Grammy dress, she chose Japanese designer H. Naoto to make it for her.
In concerts, she often wears a corset-top and fishnets, as well as long skirts and knee-high boots. She at one point had a piercing on her left eyebrow, which is visible on the cover of Fallen.
Amy told Kerrang! in April 2018:
"I was the goth chick with the black eyeliner. I was the one wearing the corsets. And that image seemed to be set in stone. I won't lie, after a while I began to hate it. I found myself suffocated by it. I found myself really wanting to go in the opposite direction and be someone else entirely. I wanted to say to people, 'You don't know me. This isn't who I am'."
She has stated on a number of occasions that she would never flash her breasts or engage in other publicity stunts that would draw attention to herself. In fact, in the music video for "Everybody's Fool", she aimed to mock such artists by suggesting that celebrities who use sex to appeal to an audience are, in fact, merely peddling "lies" (the unifying theme of the music video). Many fans praise Lee for her refusal to emulate other celebrities by using sexual attraction in her music.
While promoting The Open Door, she noted that she told the stylist who made the dress she wore on the front cover that she couldn't wear it, though she did, "what you don't understand is, the more skin I show, the less people think I write my own songs." She went on saying she'd rather be a musician than an icon.
Though she is labelled as goth, she would like not to be labelled as such because she has never been goth. She said in an interview with Nylon in June 2020:
"I’ve never been one to fit into any one box, musically or otherwise. But do I sing about sad shit? Yes. Do I like minor chords? Yes. Am I culturally cynical? Yes. But I also collect tiny plastic food and love Tenacious D and there’s a duck quacking on our second album just for fun. So…."
In 2006, Blender listed Lee as one of the hottest women in rock alongside such singers as Joan Jett, Courtney Love and Liz Phair.
In 2011, she was listed as the number #1 'hottest chick in Hard Rock' by Revolver Magazine.
In 2000, Lee sang on two of former Evanescence keyboardist David Hodges' songs: "Breathe" (The Summit Church: Summit Worship) and the unreleased "Fall Into You". She performed backup vocals for "Missing You",a song on Big Dismal's 2003 debut album Believe, and sang backup vocals on two songs with 'supergroup' The Damning Well, though her vocals were taken off the final release due to record label issues. Lee later performed a duet with her then-boyfriend Shaun Morgan on the track "Broken" for Seether's 2004 album Disclaimer II. The song was also featured as part of the soundtrack for the 2004 film The Punisher.
Lee became the American chairperson for Out of the Shadows in 2006. This organization is an international foundation with the goal of providing education about epilepsy. Lee's younger brother, Robby, was previously diagnosed with this condition. The singer also made a brief guest appearance in the music video for Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down" in late 2006. As each celebrity featured in the shoot was allowed to choose what they would be doing for the video, Lee chose to appear laying flowers on a grave. Her scene was recorded at Trinity Church in Manhattan, during which she wore a black velvet coat that previously belonged to Tim Burton.
In 2004, Lee claimed to be working on music for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but that the music was rejected by the studio for being "too dark and epic." However, the producers of Narnia stated that Lee was never asked to compose any music for the film, whose score was written by Gregson-Williams, and that "No Evanescence music was planned for the soundtrack." While there was some speculation that one of the supposed songs had been cut and used in several tracks of The Open Door, Lee stated this was not true except for part of it being used to segue into the last track of the album, "Good Enough". The song that was originally written for Narnia is "Together Again", which was released in January 2010 to benefit the United Nations Foundation for their recovery efforts following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
In February 2007, MTV released MTV Unplugged: Korn to television and radio, in which Lee is featured during the song "Freak on a Leash". The song was also released as the first single from the album. In November 2007, VH1 produced a rockumentary in the style of Behind the Music, titled Rock Band Cometh: The Rock Band Band Story, to promote the video game Rock Band. Lee was one of the celebrity cameos featured on the show.
In June 2008, the National Music Publishers' Association presented Lee with their 2008 Songwriter Icon Award, which "recognizes outstanding songwriters for their personal achievement".
For Walt Disney Records' September 2008 release of Nightmare Revisited, Lee sang a remake of "Sally's Song". The album contains new material and covers of songs from the original Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. Lee performed live renditions of "Sally's Song" during the October 17 Nightmare Before Christmas re-release premiere in Hollywood, and for an October 13 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
In early 2009, Amy performed at the Legends & Lyrics concert in Nashville, TN, and debuted "Your Love", which remains unreleased as of today. The show was supposed to be aired on PBS in the fall of 2009, but it never aired due to multiple problems within the company.
In 2018, Lee recorded piano on Veridia's "I'll Never Be Ready." The following year she wrote and lent her vocals for Lindsey Stirling's "Love Goes On and On."
In 2020, Lee collaborated with many artists and bands. She appeared on Body Count's song, "When I'm Gone", released in March 2020. She co-wrote and sang on Wagakki Band's "Sakura Rising", which was recorded in Osaka, Japan in early 2020 when she performed as a guest at the Japanese band's orchestral show. She also appeared on Bring Me the Horizon's "One Day the Only Butterflies Left Will Be in Your Chest as You March Towards Your Death" off their EP Post Human: Survival Horror.
- Born: 13-Dec-1981
- Birthplace: Riverside, CA
- Gender: Female
- Religion: Christian
- Race or Ethnicity: White
- Sexual orientation: Straight
- Occupation: Singer
- Nationality: United States
- Executive summary: Evanescence
Born in California, grew up in Florida, Illinois, and Arkansas.
- Father: John Lee
- Mother: Sara Cargill
- Brother: Robbie Lee (d. 2018)
- Sister: Carrie Lee
- Sister: Lori Lee
- Sister: Bonnie Lee (d. 1987 at age three, inspiration for multiple Evanescence songs)
- Boyfriend: Ben Moody (musician, broken engagement)
- Boyfriend: Shaun Morgan (musician, Seether, ex)
- Husband: Josh Hartzler (former therapist, married May 6th, 2007)
- Son: Jack Lion Hartzler (born in July 2014)
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