Amy Lee: The Rock Goddess with a Classical Soul
Amy Lee is one of the most influential and versatile singers in the rock scene. She is the co-founder, lead vocalist, and lead songwriter of the band Evanescence, which has sold more than 17 million copies of their debut album Fallen worldwide and won two Grammys in 2004. Lee is also a classically trained pianist, a multi-instrumentalist, and a composer who has worked on various musical projects, such as film soundtracks, collaborations with other artists, and solo ventures.
Lee was born on December 13, 1981 in Riverside, California, to John Lee, a disc jockey and voice-over artist, and Sara Cargill. She has two living sisters and two late siblings who died at young ages. Lee discovered a passion for the piano in early childhood and was inspired by classical music, especially Mozart and Beethoven, as well as film scores by Danny Elfman. She studied classical piano for nine years and also learned to play guitar, harp, and koto.
Lee formed Evanescence in 1995 with guitarist Ben Moody, whom she met at a youth camp. The band released three EPs and one demo album before signing with Wind-up Records in 2002. Their first major-label album, Fallen, was released in 2003 and became a global phenomenon, spawning hit singles such as “Bring Me to Life”, “My Immortal”, and “Going Under”. The album blended rock, metal, gothic, and symphonic elements with Lee’s powerful vocals and piano skills. Lee also wrote most of the lyrics, which reflected her personal experiences and emotions.
After Moody left the band in 2003, Lee continued with different line-ups and released two more studio albums: The Open Door in 2006 and Evanescence in 2011. Both albums were commercially successful and critically acclaimed, showcasing Lee’s musical evolution and experimentation. Lee also embarked on several solo projects during this period, such as contributing to Nightmare Revisited and Muppets: The Green Album, composing the soundtrack for War Story and Indigo Grey: The Passage with cellist Dave Eggar, and releasing the song “Speak to Me” for the film Voice from the Stone. She also collaborated with artists such as Korn, Seether, Bring Me the Horizon, and Lindsey Stirling.
In 2020, Evanescence returned with their first original song in nine years: “Wasted on You”. The song was part of their fifth studio album, The Bitter Truth, which was released in 2021. The album was influenced by the pandemic and the personal losses that Lee and her bandmates had faced in recent years. The album also featured their first political anthem: “Use My Voice”, which encouraged people to speak up for their rights and beliefs. Lee said that the album was about “finding our power again”.
Lee has received numerous awards and recognition for her musical achievements and influence. She received the Songwriter Icon Award from the National Music Publishers Association in 2008. In 2012, she won Best Vocalist at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards and was also named Rock Goddess of the Year at the Loudwire Music Awards. She was awarded Best Film Score by the Moondance International Film Festival for Indigo Grey: The Passage in 2015. In 2017, she received the Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Original Song in Independent Film for “Speak to Me”.
Lee is also an advocate for epilepsy awareness and research. She is the American chairperson for the international epilepsy awareness foundation Out of the Shadows. She has been married to therapist Josh Hartzler since 2007 and they have a son named Jack Lion Hartzler.