• Category: Interviews

Lauren Daigle's Evolution From 'American Idol' To Christian Music Star

Every successful musician has his or her own story of the struggle they went through to find their voice and their calling. That's certainly been the case with Lauren Daigle, whose new album "How Can It Be" is filled with stories about trust and faith.

Daigle grew up in Louisiana and when she was younger she says she never really considered a career in music, although she was always surrounded by the rich sounds of the South. "My parents weren't necessarily musical. But in our household they would always take us to festivals and my grandparents and aunts would teach me how to Cajun dance, and different things like that. So we kind of grew up just loving music," she explains. "You know I started singing, just around the house for fun and things like that when I was a little girl and my brother would always say 'Mom, make her stop singing' but my mom would say 'No, you just never know what’s in her heart – You never know.'"

When she was 15, Daigle was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease that meant she had to stay out of school and away from people. But while she was home-bound, she found an escape in music and that ultimately led her to begin singing in church. "I would study the Grammys and study the red carpet and study different sounds and watch different videos and try to gain as much as I could in that time," Daigle said. Her mother approached the worship leader at her church and after a brief audition, she began singing regularly in services.

"I joined the church choir and how did some solos here and there. Then when I was about eighteen I started leading, I became one of the church leaders. And from that stage I went to American Idol." She was cut from the show just before the Top 24 in 2010, didn't make it Hollywood in 2011 and in 2012 was cut in the first Las Vegas round.

After she was eliminated in 2012 she went to school at Louisiana State University but she wasn't able to get away from her calling as a singer. A friend asked her to sing some vocals on an EP his band The Assemblie was recording and the recording later briefly went to #1 on the iTunes charts. Then when the band had a big major label showcase, the lead singer ended up getting an emergency appendectomy and the band asked her to fill in on lead vocals.

"What I realized was that it was the Holy Spirit. Telling me 'OK this is what I have in store for you." That showcase led her to Nashville and the chance to sing on the Jason Gray single "Nothing Is Wasted. She was signed by the Centricity Music label in 2013. She released the "How Can It Be" EP in 2014 and the title track went to #16 on the Billboard Christian Songs Airplay chart. The following year, she released the full-length album "How Can It Be," which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart. But even more impressively, it eventually got as high as #16 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. The title track went on to win several awards, including Worship Song of the year.

But despite the commercial success of the song, it almost didn't make it onto her debut EP. "We had just finished writing for the album and we just finished having the song meeting about which ones we're going to go on the album and I was little indecisive about some of them," she said. Her producer had a song about adultery he thought might work, although he had always thought a man would be best suited to sing it. "I started to listen to the lyrics and started crying and he told me this story about a woman caught in adultery. All of these people came up against her to try to kill her because in that era, they would have stoned a woman who is caught in adultery. And Jesus stood in the gap for this woman and said 'No, I'm gonna show her what Grace looks like, I’m going to show to all of these people what Grace looks like.'"

The power of that song has really connected listeners and some cases hearing the song's message has changed someone's life. "I heard another girl say that she was flipping through the radio and she was contemplating suicide," explained Daigle. "She just didn’t really feel any worth or value and said that song saved her that her life - she didn't know that God could love her like that. So, It’s meant a lot to me to see how He's used that song in ways way greater than I'm capable of, it’s unbelievable."

The other issue Daigle has been interested in since her teen years is the topic of human trafficking. She says that until she heard a fellow student discussing it, she had no idea that slavery such as that still existed. "When I went to college I joined an anti-trafficking organization called Tigers Against Trafficking and they would support the A-21 campaign in Australia. I would write papers on it, any project I had to do, I would do about human trafficking. So it became something that really stuck to my heart." That led her to working with a Texas organization called "Restore Her," which which rescues girls from either abusive situations, trafficking and prostitution. "They bring these kids into a school that is amazing and put them into family environment so they have a house mom, a house dad. A lot of times it's a married couple that also has kids so they grow up in a normal family structure."

Daigle says that the common thread in all of these interests is the idea of female empowerment, and that's a topic that is dear to her heart. "It's really just about the empowerment as a whole. A lot of times I feel like people get caught up they let little road bumps become roadblocks," she explained "The things that halt us from moving forward – things like guilt, shame, things that we kind of take on, that God never intends for us to take on and it throws us for the entire course of our lives. Because we get caught up on these thing and so the message that I just want to bring is that we can be restored and we can be redeemed and not all is lost to the grandeur we can sometimes make it."