Little Rock rock band Evanescence's 2003 debut, "Fallen," sold a staggering 17 million copies worldwide. As Evanescence vocalist Amy Lee soars through the chorus of the album's smash single, "Bring Me to Life," special guest Paul McCoy, of Louisiana band 12 Stones, raps a counterpoint.
The single’s massive success aside, Lee never liked the idea of adding a male voice alongside hers.
On the forthcoming album “Synthesis,” Evanescence remakes previously released songs with symphonic arrangements. Not surprisingly, the new “Bring Me to Life” features only Lee’s vocals.
“I always felt that male vocal put a time stamp on the song,” she said during a recent phone interview. Without it, "Bring Me to Life" is “a little more timeless. This is an opportunity to take it back to the way I really hear it in my head, to return to the roots, the pure vision of the song.
“Songs really do continue to grow after they’re recorded. We’ve played ‘Bring Me to Life’ for 15 years. We’ve made little changes in the nuances. I’m able to sing it from a more confident place, and with the perspective of time and my own growth. It’s owed a second round.”
With “Synthesis,” out Nov. 10, Lee looked at each song “almost more from the outside than it just being me singing about me. It’s bigger than that now.”
The band’s current tour is also bigger. To faithfully recreate the symphonic “Synthesis,” Evanescence is joined onstage by a 28-piece orchestra recruited from each city on the itinerary. The tour stops at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre for the Performing Arts on Monday.
“This is a high point in my career, looking to my left and right and seeing gongs and chimes and many people on violins and cellos,” Lee said. “It’s such an elevated experience. It’s going to take more of my focus, so I’ll be a little quieter between songs, just focusing on the next thing.”
The Evanescence catalog is conducive to the orchestral treatment. Lee studied classical piano for years, and her majestic, dramatic voice flatters grand, sweeping arrangements. “It’s part of our core,” she said. “It’s not a big departure. We’re just extenuating it here.”
On previous tours, prerecorded tracks supplied string parts and other symphonic elements. “That always feels a little bit false,” Lee said. “This is the first time it all feels really pure. If you’re hearing a great big string climax, you’re seeing it happen at the same time.
“There’s a lot going on. I feel very happy to be where we are right now and grateful for my band. They trust me and stepped up to this new challenge of playing in a completely different way.”
She is the lone survivor from the early days of Evanescence. “Synthesis” is only the band’s fourth studio album, though Lee has also released music under her own name. The video for “Speak to Me,” a lush song she recorded for the 2017 film “Voice From the Stone,” was shot at an ancient castle in the Tuscany region of Italy. Lee wore a sumptuous Medieval-style gown she created with the film’s costume designer. The video shoot pretty much satisfied any princess fantasies she harbored.
“It was a fantasy, totally a dream come true,” she said. “It was a moment for me. A tear had to come to my eye.”
Her “Speak to Me” experience confirmed that she was ready to return to rock stardom. She had taken time off after she and her husband welcomed a son, Jack, in 2014. Mommy duty, she discovered, was all-consuming but also inspiring.
“I was very creatively inspired when I was pregnant and when I first had Jack. It demands your full attention in the beginning. I always thought that that meant I wouldn’t have a career anymore, and I’d be a full-time mom. I’ve always wanted to be a mom.
“Instead, I felt flooded with inspiration and emotion. It makes you feel feelings that couldn’t possibly come from anything else — it’s a bigger love, a different love, a different perspective, different fears, different everything. I felt so many new things and I was thinking so many new things that I wanted to make music and art.”
So she did. Thus, Evanescence is back on the road.
“I knew that I wanted it, and with the help of my very supportive husband, it’s been possible for me to do both. It’s a lot. I have less time to myself to do nothing. I’m always either parenting or working. But I feel really fulfilled.”