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equality factor: Grammy-winning believer in equality last album: Look Up Child our favorite song: You Say based in: Nashville, USA

Photo via Instagram @lauren_daigle

On this Easter Monday, our artist of the week is one of the brightest stars in contemporary Christian music of the last decade: Lafayette-native singer Lauren Daigle. With a bright smile and modern approach, Lauren is a great example of equality empowerment in a rather conservative music genre.

Lauren Daigle was born on September 9th, 1991 in Lafayette, Louisiana. She grew up around influences of blues, country, zydeco, and Cajun music, typical for this Southern region of the United States. At the age of six, she told people who asked her what she wanted to be as an adult, "I want to be a singer". She grew up in a very religious household, so during her teenage years, Lauren went to a college prep school and prepared to go into the medical field and do mission work, deviating from her artistic dreams. At the age of fifteen, however, Lauren contracted a virus that caused an immune deficiency - and she was forced to stay home from school for two whole years. In solitude, she returned to her true passion for singing. Her faith played a big role in this re-shifting in focus.

"When the Lord brought me into that solitude I was like, ‘How did I get distracted from what my true passion is? I NEED to be singing.’ He really brought me through all of that season to pour in a passion for ministry and a passion for music.”

After recovering from the virus, Lauren went back to school and upon graduating, she travelled to Brazil to do missionary work and attended Louisiana State University for Child and Family Studies. Having been part of several choirs during her high school years, she became a choir leader herself at university. In 2010, Lauren finally took a leap of faith toward her artistic dream of becoming a singer: she auditioned for American Idol.

Although she did not make it into the final rounds then, or in 2012, when she auditioned another time, a fire was ignited in Lauren. The following year, she was asked to sing background vocals for the local band "The Assemblie". It was a gig with that band that led to an invitation from Centricity Music to attend a workshop in Washington State. When the lead singer of "The Assemblie" fell ill and was unable to attend the event, Lauren stepped in and impressed label executives who encouraged the singer on the rise to move to "Music City" Nashville. Her move to the big city kicked off a series of events that landed Daigle a spot among the most celebrated Christian stars of the last decade. Her debut full-length album, "How Can It Be" was released on April 14, 2015. It is at No. 1 on the Billboard Christian Albums Chart. Making it to the top 20 of the Billboard Top Albums Chart, Lauren's soulful voice and excellent songwriting skills proved to please music fans beyond the Christian pop genre, foreshadowing the international career she has obtained today.

In 2019, the soulful Christian ballad "You Say" earned Lauren Daigle two Grammy awards, three Billboard Music Awards, and three GMA Dove Awards. Through this immense success, many music fans who would not typically indulge in Christian music became fans of the artist. Interestingly, the international break-through single had been released on Christian radio for over six months when it finally hit mainstream radio stations."You Say" is a reflection of a young woman who struggles with confidence and finding her place - something listeners all around the world can relate to, believers or not.

Already a major star in the Christian contemporary scene - having performed with legendary Australian music praise & worship group Hillsong at a megachurch in Birmingham - Lauren's global career took off from that point on. Her second album "Look Up Child" is one of the highest-charting Christian contemporary albums of the decade, as well as the highest-charting Christian album by a woman on the Billboard 200 since LeAnn Rimes' "You Light Up My Life" chart-topping success in 1997.

“I hope that as these songs hit peoples’ ears, they don’t hear my voice, they don’t hear really good production, so they can say, ‘Whoa Lord, I’m encountering YOU right now'”, Lauren describes her artistic and missionary vision.

The Christian contemporary music scene is filled with talented artists - but what made Lauren Daigle's talent touch the hearts of people all over the world, beyond believers and Christian pop enthusiasts? As opposed to the all-knowing, perhaps even preachy attitude carried by some Christian musicians, Lauren Daigle displays vulnerability, insecurity, and charms through her music and public appearances. Next to undeniably beautiful choral compositions, faithful lyrics, and captivating vocals.

Despite her international success, she proves humbleness by remaining active in local church communities and hosting online services. With a bright smile, messy hair, and hippie aesthetics, Lauren beams like a ray of sunshine, not perfect, but trying to make people happy. Most importantly, Lauren's positive and warmheartedness does not end at the borderline of Christian beliefs. In October 2019, Lauren was heavily criticized by her more conservative Christian fans for performing on stage at Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show to promote her new single "Still Rolling Stones". Many of her fans perceived the Christian's appearance on the TV show of an openly queer woman as controversial.

"I think the second we start drawing lines around which people are able to be approached and which aren’t, we’ve already completely missed the heart of God."

In response to criticism and the question of a radio host on whether or not 'homosexuality was sinful', Lauren did not choose the easy way of pleasing her most conservative followers, as other Christian singers might have done. She simply said: "I have too many people that I love that are homosexual. I don’t know. I can’t say one way or the other. I’m not God.” We think that with this statement, Lauren Daigle took a stand on equality empowerment. As an avid believer, she chooses to encourage coexistence and acceptance instead of putting others down. Although rooted in her Christian beliefs, the music of Lauren Daigle is a safe space, welcoming to all - just what all music should be.



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