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by Dan Gover
Stacie Orrico's music is finally arriving in the UK. Her first single, the infectious "Stuck", is destined to make her a proper pop star, just as it has done across the world. But just who is Ms Orrico?
She has an image to match pop's biggest stars and a voice capable of years of chart success. But Stacie Orrico is perhaps an unlikely pop princess. While Britney's a slave 4 U and Christina's sweating till her clothes come off, Stacie's message of sexual purity and spiritual fulfillment comes as something of a breath of fresh air. She has already refused to pose for men's magazines and, earlier this year, she explained to one interviewer that "there need to be young women artists out there encouraging young girls to make wise decisions about their relationships, what they put into their bodies and in evaluating their lives".
Stacie's story didn't begin with "Stuck", however. Unlike many other teenage songstresses, Stacie, who says her greatest musical influence is Lauryn Hill, already had one album and a Christmas "extended play" under her belt before she signed with Virgin Records. And, unlike many of pop's other big names, Stacie Orrico wasn't coached on how to be a star throughout her childhood. It was only when, at the age of twelve and "out of boredom", she entered a singing competition and won, that she began to seriously consider the option of becoming a singer. Even when one of the judges of the competition offered her a record deal with ForeFront Records, Stacie carefully considered her options before making a decision.
Fortunately, Stacie accepted, and so began her steady rise to international fame.
In the summer of 2000, an unknown voice hit Christian radio stations across America. The song was called "Don't Look At Me" and the voice was that of Stacie Orrico. By the time the debut album, "Genuine", hit stores in August, Stacie had already established herself in the Contemporary Christian Music market, and, selling over thirteen thousand copies in the first week of sales and a current total of over half a million, the album became the highest-selling debut for a female CCM artist.
The edgy Don't Look At Me was soon followed by the urban-sounding Genuine,
which became Stacie's first music video. But, despite having created such
interest in her music, the lyrics of her songs ran in deep contrast to
those of most other teen singers, and her career was launched with the
Of course, Stacie Orrico, like any teenager, is not perfect; but her music has a depth to it that is so often lacking from modern pop. Other tracks on the debut CD are equally as meaningful. Stacie's second video was to "Everything", a song touching on the issues of "purity and saving myself for my husband", while "So Pray" and "Confidant" deal with prayer. The final track of the album, "Dear Friend", penned by Stacie herself, focusses on the importance of genuine friendship. But, despite the strong religious content of her music, Stacie insists, "I don't want to shove the Bible down someone's throat with my music. That's not my goal."
Part of the appeal of "Genuine" is that, despite the deep-rooted lyrics, the sound is nevertheless as slick and easy to listen to as any mainstream release. From the pure pop sound of "O.O Baby" to the urban "Ride", Stacie Orrico's charm was instant. And with "Don't Look At Me" becoming the No. 1 CCM single of 2000, three of the five singles from "Genuine" reaching No. 1 on the CCM charts in America, and the video for "Genuine" being nominated for a Billboard Award in both 2000 and 2001, it would not be long before Stacie exploded onto the mainstream music market.
Riding high on the success of her debut album, Stacie filled the gap between this and the much-anticipated follow-up with a six-track Christmas album, released in October 2001. Featuring her favourite track from the album, "O Come All Ye Faithful", the release also includes Stacie's recordings of other Christmas classics, such as "White Christmas" and "O Holy Night".
Earlier that year, in the spring of 2001, Stacie also spent some time touring with "Destiny's Child" as their opening act. She claims that working with the R&B trio taught her a lot about the music business, especially admiring the way they, a top-selling act, treated others with genuine respect and humility. This is something Stacie will, no doubt, attempt to emulate as she, too, becomes an internationally-known star.
Say It Again
Finally, having waited two years since the release of "Genuine", fans of Stacie Orrico looked forward to the release of her second album, entitled "Say It Again", penciled for release in the summer of 2002. Featuring the upbeat single, "Bounce Back", the CD looked certain to confirm Stacie's position in the Contemporary Christian Music industry. While a promotional copy of the album was released, receiving mixed reviews, the release of the album to retail stores was put back and eventually canceled. Stacie felt that the quality of some of the tracks on the album was inadequate, while she had also been approached by Virgin Records to sign a mainstream record deal.
Some of the tracks from "Say It Again" will be familiar to those owning her new album. "Hesitation", which was co-produced by Stacie, and "Tight", for example, survived the re-launch intact. Others were re-recorded, such as "Bounce Back" which was given a more mature sound, or modified, such as "Security".
Four tracks were axed completely from the album. "Until I Find You" and "Star Of My Story" have since surfaced around the world as b-sides, while "Truth" and the impressive "That's The Way" will little-doubt follow.
In the early months of 2003, Stacie Orrico finally returned to the music world armed with a mainstream record deal with Virgin Records. When the album was released in March, it debuted at No. 67 on the Billboard 200. The album features the infectious "Stuck", which has proved to be a huge hit around the world, reaching No. 3 in the Australian singles chart and, in America, reaching No. 10 in the airplay chart and No. 5 on MTV's TRL.
True to Stacie's earlier work, the single has a deeper meaning, focussing on the dilemma of somebody "stuck" in a bad relationship. Co-written by Stacie and co-produced by the world-famous hitmaker, Dallas Austin, the single will likely set Stacie up for a long career in the music world.
The second single from the album "Stacie Orrico" will be the pop/rock "More To Life". Reminiscent of Avril Lavigne, the song is as instantly catchy as "Stuck", and became the week's No. 1 most added song when it was released to radio stations in the US. The video features Stacie in a number of roles, from a mother struggling to pay for her family, to a successful businesswoman, and from a supermodel to a waitress. The song digs beneath the superficial and asks whether there must be "more to life than chasing that every temporary high", questioning whether even the most fortunate in life are truly satisfied by it.
Meanwhile, the hard-edged "Instead" tackles the issue of poverty, Stacie asking herself, "Wonder what I'd do it it were me?" Putting her feet, and those of the listener, into the shoes of a street begger "shaking his change in a coffee cup" and a "scared and frustrated" immigrant, she forces her listeners to consider the plight of the less fortunate in society.
her listeners to take positive opportunities that arise, to make wise
decisions and to care for others, as presented in tracks such as "I
Could Be The One" and "That's What Love's About". There is a very
real sense that she wishes to impact people's lives and make a difference
through her music; in her own words, she aims
teens to not look back on their life when they're 50 and be sorry for
the way they lived".
"to challenge teens to not look back on their life when they're 50 and be sorry for the way they lived".
However, perhaps the most personal song on the album is the stunning piano-ballad, Strong Enough. In the song, written by Stacie herself, she sings of her dependence on God. Reflecting on the song, she explains,
As well as being a successful musician, Stacie also recently appeared in American TV network NBC's "American Dreams". Complete with 1960s style hair and attire, she became the lead singer for "The Angels" for a day. So does an acting career beckon for Stacie? Her answer: not likely, as she explaines: "I think that there are too many singers who try to pursue acting or too many actors who try to pursue music... if I'm not an actor, I don't try to act."
While "Stuck" may fit neatly into most radio schedules, Stacie Orrico's rise to fame and the concerns reflected in her music are far from normal. With a powerful voice and wisdom beyond her years, Stacie looks set to be a force to be reckoned with in the music industry for some years to come. Long may she last.