Happy Birthday to Lacey Sturm!
Lacey was the heart of Flyleaf, one of my favorite rock bands. She and the other band members created lyrical and soulful music that uplifts you. Although their sound can be described as “metal” or “grunge” (props to the guys for their amazing guitar rifts and heavy bass), it is the lyrics that reach into your soul and make you think of encouraging thoughts, not hateful ones. And when it comes to their acoustics and Lacey’s sweet lulling, you feel your heartstrings being tugged, causing your eyes to water for some reason (or a good reason–the music is simply beautiful).
The first time I heard Flyleaf was around middle school. I was watching MTV Hits, a channel that played music videos all day. The video for “I’m So Sick” came on, and somehow I was mesmerized. The distorted cinematography, the lens flares, the chilling guitar sounds, and the image of a girl with long brown hair and a gray dress. This was a time when rock music dominated radio airwaves, retail store playlists, and television. Other rock bands had similar sounds and lyrics, but Flyleaf was something special. I wasn’t sure at the time, but this band had a unique way of expressing anger and frustration in a meaningful way. Strange as it seems, the girl was singing and screaming because she was releasing that anger and frustration.
This was also the time when MySpace was a popular social media website. I checked out their artist profile and found the song on their playlist, along with other tracks from their debut album. I added “I’m So Sick” to my profile and felt giddy at the thought of someone viewing my page when Lacey screams, I will… BREEEEEAAAAAAK!!!
Later on, I bought a copy of their self-titled album and added every song on my iPod. I listened to their songs over and over again. I looked up all the lyrics online and pinned them to my memory. I searched for videos of interviews and live shows. There wasn’t much to find, at that point, because they were just starting out. But the more I searched for any information, the more I learned about the history of the band. They first started out in 2002, under the name Passerby. They played many live shows in Texas while trying to strike a record deal. It wasn’t until 2004 when they signed on to Octone Records, and a year later, they released their first official album. Since then, they have entered the mainstream music and released three more albums (the latest includes the new lead singer, Kristen May).
How Flyleaf helped me through the teenage years
Flyleaf came at a time when I was entering adolescence. I was the girl who had difficulty expressing herself verbally. There were many things that went on in my childhood (a story I will tell on another day) that carried into my teenage years, so I felt it was safer to remain quiet. I was also afraid to experience joy because it would be short-lived; somehow I found comfort in sorrow, but it was the kind that sucks up your energy to the point of numbness. I felt void of emotion; it was hard for me to feel joy or content, but it was also difficult to tell the difference between sadness and melancholy. Sometimes I would have bouts of rage over something beyond explanation, or maybe I was just trying to find reasons to be angry.
I also had difficulty interacting with other people my age and older. There was a sense that I did not belong to any particular group, mainly because I went through a non-conformist phase where I viewed people through a Holden Caulfield gaze. I had a small group of friends, but I have to admit, I was a pretty crappy friend. I just wanted to feel less alone, and it took me years to find out what it means to be a friend and to keep one. But it was really difficult to be social back then because I was not sure how to approach people or be comfortable talking at a personal level.
But there were two important outlets that helped me ease through those years: art and music. Flyleaf was a huge inspiration to me, especially during my first year of high school. I would discreetly listen to their songs on my iPod during art class, as I painted and sketched. I would write poems, passages for stories, and tidbits of dialogue based on or inspired by their lyrics. There was one time when I painted an abstract piece for twelve hours (2PM to 2AM) while Flyleaf played in the background in my room. As you can see below, in the picture of a photo of my piece, the shapes form the words “Fully Alive”:
I felt connected to their music. Their songs bore the rage and hurt I was feeling at the time, but they also held hope for better things to come and encouragement for moving forward. Their music was ribbons that bandaged my tiny heart until I was ready to allow myself to heal.
How Lacey Sturm became an influential person to me
I was sad when Lacey announced that she was stepping down as lead vocalist. This was in my second year of college (another tough time, but that will be saved for later). I was skimming the news feed on my phone when I saw Flyleaf’s post. It was devastating news, but I trusted that Lacey had good reasons for what she was doing. To be honest, it is still hard for me to listen to Flyleaf’s new music, with Kristen May’s vocals. But some day I will be able to accept the new voice of this band’s compelling lyrics and sounds.
It was not until I read The Reason that I began to understand why Lacey departed from the band, as well as where Flyleaf’s music was coming from. Lacey unfolded the story of her life, in terms of the struggles and depression she experienced, and the journey of her rebirth and revelation as a child of God. Music became a way for her to try to save others who were in her position. But even with this tremendous responsibility to spread the message of hope and life through Flyleaf, it was a lot for this incredible woman to bear and realize that there were other paths in her journey.
I read her book twice. Each time I reflected on her words and remembered my own experiences of childhood and adolescence. Why did I hunger for sorrow, when I could have opened myself to joy? Why did I hold on to superficial titles that only gave me temporary satisfaction? Most of all, when and how did I come out of the darkness and discover the light? Lacey put into words what I went through, even though we came from different circumstances. But what remains is that there are seasons that we must endure if we are to find joy and healing. We must open our hearts so that the path becomes clear to us, that we do not succumb further into things that deceive our hearts. Whatever calling directs us to something better, we must allow ourselves to listen and follow that calling and reach new horizons.
Lacey Sturm and Flyleaf helped me to find the light. It was within me, above me, and all around me. They helped me to open my eyes and my heart to embrace a greater love than what I can experience from other people. I am still trying to find my faith, but I am hopeful that I will understand and accept the path that has been planned for me in this life.
And now for my favorite Flyleaf songs:
Compiling this list of my favorite songs and music videos took me back to those years when I was hoping to find the light. This is a mix of Flyleaf’s EPs and studio album versions of songs they’ve played since the Passerby era.
- The playlist begins and ends with two different versions of “Broken Wings”. The first version is from an EP (before the band got a record deal) and the second version is the last track on New Horizons. I love both versions of the song, and I felt it was very meaningful that they included it in their last album as Lacey’s farewell. It still manages to tear me up whenever it plays, and it’s even harder to listen through the whole thing, knowing what it means to many Flyleaf fans.
- I decided to include the remix of “I’m So Sick” from the Resident Evil: Extinction OST because it is so. freaking. awesome! It elevates the vivacity of the original song. And the fan-made video with clips from the movie is worth the watch!
- “Supernatural” is the only song in this playlist that has not been re-recorded on any of their studio albums. It is one of my favorite EPs, and I think it adds more meaning to discovering a supernatural force that shows you what love really means.
- “Amy Says” and “Believe in Dreams” are EPs that have been re-recorded and included in Remember to Live. This playlist contains the original versions, which are equally as beautiful as the re-recordings.
- **I apologize if any non-skippable ads break the flow of the music. There is nothing I can do about them, but remain patient and persistent!
Again, I want to say Happy Birthday to Lacey! If you are reading this, I hope you have a beautiful celebration with your family and that this will be another day, another year of many blessings! Thank you for all the work you have done to inspire many of us! Thank you for leading me through a rough yet short patch in this life that holds so much more in store for me!
And to Flyleaf, if you are also reading this, you have been a huge inspiration for me and for my work! I hope to be as influential and inspiring as you, someday! I will continue to support you because I know you have so much more to give to a new generation of people who are still trying to find their light!