In March 2004, Stacie Orrico walked away from it all. Feeling overwhelmed by the global success of her multiplatinum sophomore album, Orrico exited the business, returned to her family in Seattle and

In March 2004, Stacie Orrico walked away from it all. Feeling overwhelmed by the global success of her multiplatinum sophomore album, Orrico exited the business, returned to her family in Seattle and took a waitressing job at a neighborhood seafood restaurant.

With Virgin's release this week of "Beautiful Awakening," the 20-year-old singer/songwriter returns with a fresh perspective. "I knew if I didn't step away and build a life outside the music industry that I'd always be holding on too tight," she says. "So I went away and shut down the machine for a couple of years."

Orrico had earned the right to take a break. She was discovered at a Christian music seminar in 1998 in Estes Park, Colo. She entered a competition and won, gaining the attention of an A&R executive from EMI Christian Music Group, who offered her a development deal with ForeFront Records. She was only 12.

For the new set, she enlisted some noted producers to craft "Beautiful Awakening," including Dallas Austin, Dwayne Bastiany and former Naughty by Nature DJ Kay Gee. The result is an album that leans more toward the R&B of Alicia Keys and Lauryn Hill than Orrico's previous polished teen pop. The first single is "I'm Not Missing You." "It's the most pop song on the album," Orrico says. "It bridges the gap between where I left off to where we're going on this album, which is more soulful."

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