But, Mahomet-Seymour graduate Leah Bice is beginning to experience the fruits of her ‘break.’
It all began in the spring of 2017.
A second-year communications student at Parkland College, Bice was asked to record her original song “Stay” for Parkland’s label, Perimeter Road Sound Recordings.
Each semester, Perimeter Road Sound Recordings chooses five to six amateur musicians to produce an album.
“Stay” was released on Perspectives of Parkland Vol. 1. in March of 2017.
Although Bice has been involved in leading the worship team at Vineyard Church in Urbana for several years and has written 10 to 15 songs of her own, she wasn’t quite ready to step out into the solo spotlight.
“That’s probably my first chance to do something outside of worship,” Bice said. “I’ve led worship for years, and while I love it, I felt like this was a good step outside of my comfort zone to really put forth something that is my own.”
As Faculty Advisor and Communications Instructor Adam Porter saw what Bice could do both vocally and creatively, he encouraged her to be a part of the project.
“He saw the spark in me,” Bice said. “He saw the creativity and the desire to grow as a musician, but he also saw me as a creative.”
The opportunity to record also led to a chance to perform and speak in front of Parkland’s finest at the Parkland Foundation Gala in August.
Although Bice knew that she wanted to go into communications, she did not know a specific focus. Through experiences with journalism, recording and social media, she feels like she has finally found her niche at Parkland before she heads off to the University of Illinois in the fall.
“Parkland is such a gem,” she said. “I think growing up here in Mahomet my whole life, you just kind of knew about it. But actually being there and seeing the incredible things they have to offer, blew my mind.”
“I got involved with student ambassadors, which is kind of like a volunteer student council, during my first year. I got to see Parkland’s diversity, and also the vastness of what the school offers from health professions to communication, to music, to dental hygiene. They have so many great things.”
Bice has been through more than most 20-year-olds, including the sudden passing of her father, Don Bice in 2014, and being part of a support system as her mother, Laura, battled cancer throughout 2016 and 2017. She said writing the song “Stay” was therapeutic for her.
“It was written in a season when I didn’t really have the words to depict how I was feeling, but this song lent itself,” she said. “I’ve found that sometimes music can speak way more than words even can.”
Growing up around creative people, Bice said she has seen how music, especially, can help peel back the emotional layers to help people deal with their thoughts and feelings.
“It’s a connection,” she said. “There are a lot of nights when I’m at home on my piano and it’s just me. I think that it’s kind of a way for me to channel the deep emotions in my heart: Sometimes it’s joy, sometimes it’s just trying to process things, sometimes its excitement, sometimes it’s anger; I think creativity is way more than just writing or singing, there’s a depth to it.”
Writing and singing the song weren’t the only parts of the process Bice enjoyed.
She was also able to work with other musicians, to choose instruments and the sound engineering process.
Performing and creating music has been a part of Bice’s entire childhood.
As a longtime member of Grace Church, she grew up watching her parents lead worship every Sunday morning. Her mom continues to be an integral part of the worship team at the Vineyard Church.
“My mom is my greatest inspiration,” she said. “So seeing her in her worship, in her music, I think just seeing the comfortability that she has gives me the key to know it’s okay, it’s safe.”
She also said her parents willingness to introduce her to a variety of music, not just Christian music, has helped her to understand that each genre has its place and time.
“My heart first and foremost is for the Lord,” she said. “Even though this song that I released wasn’t necessarily a worship song, I still wanted it to have the same heart that I have when I lead worship.”
Growing up at Grace Church also gave her the opportunity to get to know Cal Joslin, the bassist for Sidewalk Prophets.
Having seen the band perform more than 20 times, including three times in Mahomet, Bice is a huge fan.
So when she was brought onto the Sidewalk Prophets team as a tour promotions intern for the upcoming “Prodigal” tour last week, she felt like all of the cards were falling into place.
Bice saw the Sidewalk Prophet’s Facebook post for 1-2 interns on a Wednesday night. She submitted her resume, then within 20 minutes received an email requesting an interview.
The next day, right after the interview, she accepted the role and began working on connecting with media outlets in California ahead of the group’s first show.
Over the next few months, Bice, alongside four other interns, will continue to work with media outlets to promote the show, to make sure ticketing is in order and to make sure the performers have what they need when they arrive.
She will also attend the shows in Illinois and Indiana to be an extra set of hands.
“Again, I’m just learning different things that I enjoy that I did not know,” she said.
With more than she ever dreamed of coming to fruition within the last 12 months, Bice has stayed grounded.
Over the course of 2018, she plans to continue her work leading worship and managing social media for the Vineyard Church and completing her final semester at Parkland. She also plans to heed the advice she is receiving from her elders.
“A lot of people who are older than me, those who know there is a lot more to life, have encouraged me to just embrace this season,” she said. “I’m not in a relationship, I’m not going to be married with kids anytime soon, so I’m just enjoying this season and just wanting to live every experience that I can while I’m still young and healthy and enjoying life.”
But Bice has also caught a spark inside of her.
She plans to record her first album in 2018.
“So look for that,” she said.