The Pace Sisters: “Iyanla Was Our Lifeline”
“Iyanla: Fix My Life”: the one hour, in your face reality- documentary television show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, has had viewers on the edge of their seats since its debut last year. From helping celebrities, to every day people, life coach Iyanla Vanzant sets out to help individuals come to terms with things from their past and move forward. Iyanla’s in your face approach, and ability to make even the hardest open up about their issues, has set her apart and marveled viewers. On the season finale of her second season, Iyanla is summoned to help fix the Life of a family on the front line in Gospel music: “The Pace Sisters”.
Since they were little girls singing in their fathers’ church, The Pace Sisters have been ministering to audiences worldwide. The Pace family consisting of 9 real life sisters, 7 of which are in the group (LaTrice, DeJuaii, Duranice, June, Leslie, Lydia, and Melonda), have released 4 albums, and become one of the premiere families in Gospel music. The group as a whole and each sister individually have had extensive careers in ministry, music, theater, and film.
Growing up under the microscope of the church, the sisters at times felt as if they never had an outlet to deal with their personal issues, one of which was their weight. In an episode being titled: “Iyanla: Fix My Overweight Family”, the sisters sit down with Iyanla to discuss whats being labeled as a “generational curse”. A curse that has affected each sister, and even contributed to the death of their only brother Bishop Murphy Pace, at the age of 54.
In this exclusive interview, I sit down with LaTrice, DeJuaii, Duranice, June, Leslie, Lydia, and Melonda (The Pace Sisters) just a few days before their episode of “Fix My Life” was set to air to discuss what exactly their fans can expect from their life changing session.
GOSPELflava: How did the idea come about to do : “Iyanla: Fix My Life”?
LaTrice: I met Vivian Chew (wife to legendary musical director) Ray Chew a few years ago working on BET Sunday Best , and at that time my brother was alive. We were trying to create something to assist my family with this issue. We wanted something that would motivate my family to get healthier, because we kept running into brick walls. We revisited the idea about a year ago and by that time, Iyanla’s show was new and doing exceptionally well. Vivian then brought it to my attention that her and Iyanla were good friends and that we should consider addressing the idea on the show. Vivian serves as one of the producers for Iyanla’s show.
GOSPELflava: This particular episode is being titled: “Iyanla: Fix My Overweight Family”, and in the gospel Music Industry weight and health have been major issues for many years. What clicked on the inside that allowed you to be open about your problem?
DeJuaii: For Me, I wanted to make a change because there are so many people who are influenced by our lives. I felt comfortable about doing it openly because I wanted to help give them courage. I wanted to help give them strength and tenacity to go ahead and do it. It’s not necessarily that everyone has to do it so openly, but everyone has to face it. I just wanted to do it on a major platform like, “Iyanla: Fix My Life”.
Duranice: For me, it was like Iyanla threw out a lifeline. You see yourself treading water for 10 years, and you know you can’t go too much longer. And you are doing all you know how to do and been taught, but you know that any minute you are going under. I see Iyanla as a lifeline sent from GOD to help me to bring me back on the surface. I can’t speak for my sisters but that’s what this experience did for me. I was treading water and I was literally going under.
LaTrice: The word of God says that we overcome by the word of our testimony. We have to be responsible with the platform that God has given us. So, what better way to be responsible with the platform than to deal with your obvious issues as well? Now that’s not everyone’s calling. Like Duranice said, when you’ve been trying to swim this big ocean for so long, you feel like you are about to go under. And you ask yourself, “Where is the lifeline”? That was our lifeline. We realized that we couldn’t go on acting as if it wasn’t there, or sweeping it under the rug. We are hoping that by sharing our testimony, we will help others face their issues and overcome it.
GOSPELflava: On February 16, 2011, your only Brother, Bishop Murphy Pace passed away from health related issues. How did his death affect you all as a family and individually?
LaTrice: I will answer this for the family because I believe I can speak for them on this. For everyone, it was like losing our covering, leader, and #1 fan. He was our supporter and warrior because for years he fought for us as a group. Nobody believed in the Pace Sisters like Murphy Pace did. He would have laid down his life for our success. And to have that gone made me feel like I was stripped of everything and left naked. I asked myself: “Who is going to fight for us now”? , “Who is in our corner now”? , “Who has our back now?” “What do we do now”?
Duranice: I agree 100% with what LaTrice said. I couldn’t have put it any better, I miss my brother.
DeJuaii: I am in agreement with LaTrice as well, and for me it was very shocking. It came as a surprise. I felt hopeless because I was hoping that we all could embark on this weight loss journey together. I wanted us to transition into this new phase of life together. Like Duranice said, you feel like you are on a raft and you are trying to keep everyone alive, you don’t want anyone to miss out. For him to pass away I felt like, Oh my God, we didn’t get to that level yet, and we lost him to a health issue. For me it left a very big gap and a sad and lonely hole. I can feel his loss, I really miss him, and I now realize just how much he did to keep us going and a float. Not having him here at this time I can really feel that gap.
LaTrice: The analogy that came to my mind is that the entire Pace Family is in this body of water. It’s like we are all in this ocean trying to swim, without the knowledge of knowing how to swim. You see your sibling drowning but you know you can’t help them because you are trying to stay a float yourself! Its like I want to help them, but I can’t get to them because I’m about to drown too! So Iyanla was that lifeline, for us. Yes, we know God’s word and that is what’s been keeping us afloat all this time. However, we needed a lifeline so that we could get on top of that water and walk it. It hurts for all of us to be in this ocean trying to swim ourselves and see our brother and our niece, or another sibling that’s drowning and you’re trying to save them, but you don’t have the tools to save them because you’re trying to figure it out yourself. So we decided we are going to grab this lifeline before we loose somebody else, because we can’t take losing another member of the family!
Melonda: We haven’t forgotten our main anchor, which is Jesus Christ. Even though my brother was a great strength, and we are not able to see him physically because he’s not here, but he is in heaven pushing us. Even though I, (Melonda) wasn’t able to make the taping of “Fix My Life”, GOD opened this door. I see Iyanla’s show as Jesus walking on the water, and now telling us you can get up and walk now Peter. We are getting ready to get up now and walk on this water, in the name of Jesus. We are coming up out of weariness, because the bible says, “ Be not weary in well doing”. But being that we are in the flesh, we became weary. Some may still be weary, but we are coming out of that place. This is how I feel about the “Fix My Life” Show. Not that she is totally fixing everything that’s wrong with people, but GOD is using her as a tool that we may walk on this water. We are going to walk on this water from here all the way to glory. The Pace family has been anchored and we are going to ride it all the way through. Let me be clear that GOD has set this stage and not man. We are going to give GOD the glory and give appreciation to Iyanla, that we may help each other. This is a big piece of God’s puzzle that He is putting together.
GOSPELflava: How did you all feel after having this experience?
Leslie: There’s a difference in a lifeline and the one who gives Life. Jesus gives life, but GOD can use whomever he wants to use. We read it in the building, he used a chicken, a rooster, a crow to show certain things, but the ultimate person who is helping me is Jesus. Everybody takes something away from the Iyanla experience. I must be honest, that my experience there was not positive. But I am glad that my sisters experienced something because I love them beyond life. I am glad they have something, but I took nothing positive away from that experience. For me it didn’t help as much, because I’m still in the struggle with my weight but that’s not the only thing I’m in a struggle with. Martin you labeled this as a problem, and I guess it is a problem. I have other problems that contribute to this water; we all are dealing with various things. My experience there was not very positive.
June: I feel like Leslie as well. My experience was not positive, but I am glad that my sister’s lives were changed.
DeJuaii: I personally feel that Iyanla helped and enhanced my life. I know that what we did is a process and I constantly look at this mustard seed that she gave us. I remember her saying just have faith. And I believe that all the lifelines we need are on the way.
Duranice: I do know that God works in mysterious ways. I am not saying that Iyanla is God; I never want to imply that! However, I do know what I was dealing with. I didn’t know how to tell my sisters about the hurt I had on the inside. I threw myself in the word and in fasting and praying and God is awesome. But I think that God uses other avenues to help you see clearly. It’s like the song says, “ I can see clearly now the rain is gone”. God used Iyanla to remove the rain because I was getting discouraged. I never said anything but I was to the point to where I said GOD if you don’t’ help me, I can’t go on much longer. I had made up in my mind that I was going to stop preaching and singing. I was just tired of where I was. I knew that it had to get better. I’m not as strong as my other sisters when it comes to articulation and how to express myself. But I am strong when it comes to building up my sisters, and I won’t let anybody else fall. At the same time I’m falling, and I’m trying to hold on. Iyanla helped me see through the rain because I know it wasn’t God’s will for me to leave church and stop preaching and teaching. But I don’t want to be a fake or a phony! Here it is, I am prophesying to people and they are living their lives, and the things I’m speaking over them are coming to pass, but I’m struggling. And when the lights are off, the music stop, and the B3 is no longer playing, I’m left to deal with the rape and the molestation. I had to deal with my husband of 12 years, who was the only man that I ever loved, having an affair with 19 men. There’s no way you can deal with all of that by yourself. So Iyanla threw out the lifeline, which helped me deal. I’m a witness that you can serve the people of God and still be hurting. I didn’t know how to tell my sisters what was wrong with me.
LaTrice: I walked away with an appreciation for her process. She helped us understand what was going on mentally that was contributing to the physical. Duranice was dealing with a lot mentally and we didn’t understand it. All of us had been so caught up in our own little worlds we didn’t know what was going on with our other siblings. We hadn’t gotten to know each other as adults, or understood how our different experiences shaped us into who we are today.
GOSPELflava: From listening to all you’ve stated it sounds like you are in transition, and this had led to this new music. Teddy Riley produced your new single, “Just Believe”. How was it working with such a legend in music on this next chapter of your careers?
LaTrice: I couldn’t believe it. For a minute I just sat there with my mouth wide open! I couldn’t believe that this was Teddy Riley. It was definitely an honor for me.
Duranice: It was truly an honor, will never forget it!
GOSPELflava: You all have worked with many great producers over the years. However from watching the clip of you guys in the studio interacting, the song seemed like it was very personal, tell me about that.
LaTrice: The song simply says, “Just Believe”. Throughout the span of our careers, we still have to just believe. This was something that we could relate to. We had to believe throughout this entire process.
DeJuaii: Personally, it was on a whole different level from working with past producers. He was very soft-spoken, and the way he carried and presented himself, made you want to work. Everything was positive for me. It was the first time I heard someone tell me that I hear music differently, and in a certain ear. I had never heard that before! In the past I have always heard negative feedback from producers. However, this young man totally enlightened and blessed me. The way he handled himself just changed my life. He inspired me to want to sing again because at one time I wanted to stop. My sisters started singing about 14 years before I started, so their voices are really developed. I was playing the drums for the group when we first started out. I came in a little later and up until recently I’d felt like I had to catch up to have that same power as my sisters. Now I feel that I am on the right track.
GOSPELflava: What can fans expect from this new album that’s on the way?
Duranice: A whole new sound and attitude! We are going all the way and taking it higher!
LaTrice: I think a lot of times when people hear the Pace sisters they immediately think about “When God Is In The Building”. Now I understand that with any industry, they have to be able to put you into a genre. In this new season its not like we are trying to go urban now, or out the box. However, I think for some we are in a different place of awareness of our vocal ability and style. One of the things that were mentioned on the show was that we have been singing, but we have not had a voice. It wasn’t about having a voice in terms of vocal ability, but that referred to having a say so in what we do. We are able to now determine what direction we go in. People will be doing themselves a dis-service to anticipate hearing how our previous material sounded. Don’t get me wrong, that was who we were at that time, but people grow and they develop, and they come into a new awareness. I think people should be open-minded when it comes to the Pace Sisters.
- Currently, The Pace Sisters are in the studio finishing up their 5th album as a group. LaTrice and personal trainer Lorenzo Everhard, started the “Weight Release Challenge” which encourages a healthy, safe weight loss process. They are currently working on plans to begin a program in the Atlanta area. The Pace Sisters new single, “Just Believe”, produced by Teddy Riley is available now on all digital media outlets. “Iyanla Fix My Life” airs Saturday May 18, 2013 at 9pm EST on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). Check your local listings for more information.
Follow The Sisters on Twitter @ThePaceSisters and be sure to tweet live during the show using the Hash tag #FixMyLife
Check Out A Sneak Peak Of The Show: