The Christian worship singer reveals how battling a serious illness when she was a teenager strengthened her faith and led her to a career in music.
- Posted on Nov 12, 2015
My first meeting with Lauren Daigle came courtesy of an awards show earlier this year. She was fresh-faced, smiling and wearing a wreath of greenery on top of her head.
She called it a succulent crown and gamely told me she had plans to plant it after the show, something I remind her of when talk on the phone.
“It stayed alive for a little bit but then I had to go back out on the road,” Daigle jokes in her throaty, Louisiana-tinted accent.
It’s that voice that’s responsible for her recent – almost meteoric -- rise to fame.
Daigle’s debut album, How Can It Be, landed earlier this year and already the Christian worship singer is being labeled the industry’s next “It” girl. With a No. 1 on Billboard’s Christian Albums Chart, three tours under her belt and a handful of K Love and Dove awards already in her pocket she could easily be considered an overnight success, but Daigle sees her lifelong journey to a music career as one guided not by ambition, but by God.
Her music-loving parents encouraged her talent, but it was the faith they nurtured in her that shaped her. That faith strengthened her through a debilitating illness, when she thought the musical dreams of her childhood might never come to pass. Those dreams began early..
“My mom likes to say that I came out of the womb singing,” Daigle says.
She remembers belting out lyrics to her favorite tunes when she was young – anything by Celine Dion or Whitney Houston made the list – while her older brother begged their mother to make her stop.
Lauren Daigle performs at the DOVE Awards in Nashville, TN.
Instead of stifling her love for music, her parents encouraged it. Her father – a lover of classic rock and all things Led Zepplin – would challenge his children on long car rides to play something he dubbed “The Dollar Game.” It required Daigle to name the artist responsible for whatever song was playing on the radio at the time. If she could name the singer, she’d get the cash.
“I don’t know if he knew what he was doing at that time, but he was training my ear,” Daigle says.
Her mother too was a fan of music, Christian music, and both of her parents encouraged Daigle to pursue her passion from an early age.
“They handed me over to the Lord from the moment that I was born,” the singer says. “Even the things that were completely outlandish, they would always say ‘If this is what God is telling you to do, then go for it.’”
But when Daigle was just 15 years-old, her musical plans were put on hold. The artist was diagnosed with an immune deficiency that kept her house-bound for nearly two years. During that time of solitude, Daigle found herself drawing closer to the Lord. She remembers waking up every morning after her parents had left for work and making the trip to her makeshift prayer closet – a small space in an upstairs loft – where she would read her devotional, journal and pray.
“That was really where I started knowing God for myself not just from what I’d been taught growing up,” Daigle says. “He showed me who He was as my comforter.”
It’s also when Daigle began to realize her childhood dream was actually what God had planned for her. The artist recalls the feelings and signs He placed in front on her, encouraging her to pursue music, “I thought ‘I’m just losing it. I’m getting cabin fever,’” Daigle jokes. “But He assured me, ‘No, this is what I have in store.’ And as I just started drawing closer and closer to God, he started affirming me.”
Daigle came out of that season of her life – something she refers to as her “training ground” – with a determination to use her voice to encourage and uplift others. She tried the Hollywood route first with a stint on American Idol before returning home, completing two years at LSU, joining a band and eventually signing as a solo artist to her current label, Centricity Music.
Now Daigle finds herself being labeled a “success story.” She jokes about her recent foray into fame – attending awards shows like that one in Nashville and going on tour with bands like Hillsong United and Bid Daddy Weave come with no small amount of anxiety for the small-town native. But it isn’t interviews like this one or performing on storied stages like the Grand Ole Opry that have had the biggest impact on her – it’s the fans.
Daigle recalls a young boy she met while signing autographs. A freshman in high school and a standout baseball player, he was already fielding calls from scouts wanting to recruit him when he was diagnosed with scoliosis and told he’d never play again. The artist says struggling with her own illness has better prepared her to encourage others in their battles.
“I told him I could’ve looked at that season of my life and said ‘Oh God, I’m really good in school. I have good grades, but now I can’t go into the medical field because my schooling is getting all messed up.’ Or I can say ‘God, you’re doing something profound. You don’t waste a single moment. What are you training me for?’”
Daigle recognizes that her path has been anything but conventional. It’s something she appreciates.
“I’m walking through all the things that He has talked about,” Daigle says of her journey so far. “I’m even more in awe. This is a promise that He gave and He’s now seeing it all to pass.”