And while that couldn’t be truer in many ways, it’s also a state of peace and contentment that’s come at the end of a long road of hardship, heartbreak, and hurdles. Rest assured that when LaShun Pace lifts her astonishing, almost otherworldly voice in praise and worship to the Almighty, it is anything but an act. LaShun is a woman who has been down and up, and up and down again in her lifetime. But with an ever-abiding resilience and faith in her Creator, she has always rebounded—stronger, wiser and more certain than ever of the Source from which her strength is drawn.
As writer of ten of It’s My Time’s eleven songs, LaShun—who has never sung or written better—continues to prove herself not only an artist of prodigious musical gifts, but a woman unafraid and unashamed to share the story of her life, in both it sorrows and glory, in one deeply personal song after another.
LaShun gives a breathtakingly dramatic performance on “For My Good,” a beautifully orchestrated ballad acknowledging God’s omniscient guidance and faithfulness to His children.
Both longtime LaShun fans, as well as newcomers to her fold, might be surprised—in the most pleasing of ways—to hear LaShun turn in the irresistibly catchy and totally up-to-the minute “Hey,” which she describes as “kind of a Gospel `Don’t Worry, Be Happy.’ It’s fun for me, because it’s just acknowledging we can’t take on every challenge in life at one time. Bills are a good example. They’re always going to come in, and even pile up sometimes. So you just do your best, one day at a time, get to what you can as soon as you can, and don’t let it get you down in the meantime.”
LaShun takes the listener to serious, Sunday-morning church on “Emotions,” lacing things with a saucy dose of blues. “I Trust In You” is a modern-day hymn, with LaShun laying both riveting recitation and soaring vocals atop the backing of a resounding Gospel choir; and “The Lord Will Make A Way” is nothing short of riveting, unvarnished vocal-and-piano Gospel that not only stirs the soul, but makes it abundantly clear the profound debt R&B music owes to the church.
“My parents worked hard,” LaShun reflects on early years, “but I was one of 10 children, and things were just rough for us when I was coming up.”
But even in the face of what was clearly material lack—if not outright poverty—the Pace family was sustained by virtues that no fortune could buy, nor any degree of deprivation deny. The wolf may have sometimes been at their door, but inside there was love and dignity, an abiding faith in God the Father, and always, always sweet and soulful Gospel music to take the chill off even the coldest night in their native Chicago.
LaShun’s mother assembled her richly gifted daughters into a formal group in the mid-‘70s, and they began a slow-but-steady rise to popularity in and around the Chicago area. With her heart firmly set from a young age on serving the Lord through her music, LaShun’s commitment never wavered, even through more than a decade of reaching only a small fraction of the people that a talent as formidable as hers justified.
Saving every dollar she could spare, LaShun traveled to Oakland, California, in 1988, to be a part of the annual Music & Arts Seminar, hosted by Gospel luminaries Edwin and Walter Hawkins. The Seminar in those days recorded a nationally released album each year culled from the best songs and performances that had been presented during the event. LaShun was hardly even aware of the magnitude of the original words and music she bore to the Bay Area that year, in a song she also sang, titled “That Name.” The song and the album turned into a near-overnight sensation, and after years of waiting patiently and anonymously in the wings, LaShun was on her way to the recognition her talents so richly merited.
In fact, “That Name” was just the beginning of a roll that would launch LaShun’s formidable—and, at times, feverish—career. When less than a year later she was featured on another hit Gospel album by Dr. Jonathan Greer & the Cathedral of Faith Choirs, doing another of her own compositions, the equally huge “In the House of the Lord,” she was becoming an artist to be reckoned with. By 1990, though still an active member of the Anointed Pace Sisters, she had signed her own solo recording contract with Savoy Records. And while she recalls that, as a new artist, the label put less-than-enthusiastic support behind her, the title song, “He Lives,” became not only her biggest single to that date, but also catapulted the album into the Gospel Top 10.
By 1992, the Anointed Pace Sisters, still featuring a very busy LaShun, had landed their own record deal, peaking at No.2 in Billboard with their debut offering, U Know. Despite the Sisters’ huge breakthrough success, LaShun had already made up her mind that it was her time and place to transition into a full-time solo artist in her own right, and within the year she had done just that, in a big way, when her make-or-break solo album, Shekinah Glory, peaked at No. 5 in Billboard, spending just short of a full year on the chart.
Three more hit solo albums, as well as numerous awards—including two of Gospel’s coveted Stellar Awards—came LaShun’s way over the next seven years, but ironically, it was perhaps the hardest time she had ever weathered in her personal life. The death of her first-born daughter, Xenia, was followed all too soon by the demise of her marriage. Devastated as only a mother can be at the loss of a young child, LaShun also found herself a single mother, surrounded by supposed friends whom she found all too ready to judge her, rather than comfort and console in the face of her ensuing divorce.
And yet, even as her personal tragedies and the requisite time for healing and recovery that followed conspired to keep LaShun out of the recording studio for a season, she is back once again, resilient and brilliant as ever, with both It’s My Time and her recently published autobiography, For My Good, But For His Glory.
In the 13th Chapter of Zephaniah, the Lord spoke words to the Old Testament prophet, that to this very day sum up the first love and lifelong commitment of LaShun Pace, and the unquestionable source of the profound inspiration that underpins her incredible singing and songwriting. It reads: “I will bring those that remain through the fire and make them pure, as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire. They will call upon My name and I will hear them; and I will say, `These are My people,’ and they will say, `The Lord is our God.’”
LaShun Pace has indeed been through the fire, and also known the silver and gold, and through it all never doubted the One whose hand guided every step of her way. On It’s My Time, after a far-too-long, four-year hiatus, the next chapter in the deeply moving story of LaShun Pace is being told on CD, radio, and in churches, auditoriums and concert halls the world over, as an artist who has never really been gone from the lives and the hearts of those who love her, is once again heard in all of her, and her heavenly Father’s, glory.