Amy Lynn Hartzler (née Lee; born December 13, 1981), known professionally as Amy Lee, is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and multi-instrumentalist. She is the co-founder and lead vocalist of the rock band Evanescence. Along with her contributions with the band, Lee has also participated on numerous other musical projects including Walt Disney Records’ Nightmare Revisited and Muppets: The Green Album. Lee has performed collaborations with artists such as Korn, Seether, and David Hodges. Lee is also the American chairperson for the international epilepsy awareness foundation Out of the Shadows. During Evanescence’s hiatus, Lee embarked on her film score career in 2013 by composing the soundtrack to War Story (2014) and Indigo Grey: The Passage (2015) with cellist Dave Eggar.
Lee cites influences ranging from composers such as Mozart and Danny Elfman,[ to artists Björk, Tori Amos, Plumb and Shirley Manson. She received the Songwriter Icon Award in 2008 from the National Music Publishers Association. In 2012, she won Best Vocalist at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards and also named Rock Goddess of the Year at the Loudwire Music Awards. She won an award for Best Film Score for Indigo Grey: The Passage at the Moondance International Film Festival in 2015.
Early life and education
Amy Lee was born in Riverside, California, to parents John Lee, a disc jockey and TV personality, and Sara Cargill. She has a brother named Robby and two sisters, Carrie and Lori. Lee had a younger sister who died in 1987 at the age of three from an unidentified illness. 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. Lee took classical piano lessons for nine years.
Her family moved to many places, including West Palm Beach, Florida, and Rockford, Illinois, and eventually settled in Little Rock, Arkansas, where Evanescence was formed. Lee graduated from Pulaski Academy, a private school in Little Rock, in 2000. She briefly attended Middle Tennessee State University in 2000 to study music theory and composition but 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.
Amy Lee at the 2003 Billboard Awards
Lee co-founded the rock band Evanescence with guitarist Ben Moody. 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. 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 the longer EP Origin. This demo contains three songs from the debut album Fallen 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 January 3, 2014, TMZ reported that Lee had sued Evanescence’s label, Wind-up Records, for $1.5 million in unpaid royalties. In March 2014, via her Twitter account, Lee announced that she had been released from her Wind-up Records contract and was now an independent artist.
2000–2007: Early solo projects
Lee in São Paulo, Brazil, during 2007
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.
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.” However, the producers of Narnia stated that Lee was never asked to compose any music for the film, whose score was written by Harry 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”.
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 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 mockumentary 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.
2008–2012: Tribute albums
Lee performing during a concert in 2011
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.
During an October 2008 interview for Spin.com, Lee noted that she was writing new songs, possibly for a solo album project. Citing influences in folk and Celtic music, she says her current writings feel like she is going back to her “really old” roots. She gave no potential release date, but said of her reason for this new direction, “I need to show that I’m more than a one trick pony.”
Lee stated during an October 2008 interview with The Gauntlet that she did not know whether or not she would begin a solo career, saying that she was “at a point where I don’t know what is next.” She noted that Evanescence was still together as a band but that she found touring to be monotonous. She reiterated that she was continuing to write songs, although she did not yet know what purpose they would serve.
In a Spin interview in March 2010, Lee stated that she was “in a very different creative space then” regarding her previous work on new material, and that while she wrote some songs that were good, nothing from those efforts would be included in the band’s album Evanescence, which was released on October 7, 2011.
In 2011, Lee covered “Halfway Down the Stairs” for Muppets: The Green Album and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” for the tribute album We Walk the Line: A Celebration of the Music of Johnny Cash in 2012.
Lee was in a relationship with Seether singer Shaun Morgan from 2003 to 2005. Lee wrote a song, “Call Me When You’re Sober”, about him; it was released as the first single from The Open Door.
Lee revealed during the live broadcast of MuchMusic’s January 9, 2007, episode of Live at 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 posted on EvThreads that she is “now officially Mrs. Amy Hartzler.”
Lee announced via social media on January 18, 2014, that she was pregnant. The couple’s first child, Jack Lion Hartzler, was born on July 24, 2014.