GCU News Bureau
Lauren Daigle spent two years isolated. But she wasn't alone.
When she was just 15 years old, Daigle contracted cytomegalovirus – a virus related to the viruses that cause chickenpox and infectious mononucleosis. The condition was serious enough that Daigle was homebound to further protect her weakened immune system.
She remained at home, away from the crowds at school, for two years.
Yet, that’s when magic happened.
So that she wouldn’t become depressed, Daigle’s mother signed her up for voice lessons.
“I fell in love,” Daigle told DJ Maxwell of New York’s Z100 studios in April. “It became my healing. From that space, that’s where those songs come from. I feel like that experience, I could live a lifetime off of just those two years."
What doesn’t break you makes you stronger, and it did for Daigle, who would go on to become a Grammy Award-winning singer.
She will bring her songs with her to Grand Canyon University Arena in a sold-out show at 7:30 p.m. Friday for her Look Up Child World Tour with special guest AHI.
Daigle grew up in LaFayette, La., which played a big part in shaping who she is. Her music is steeped in those bluesy, soulful spaces she found herself in during her formative years.
The contemporary Christian singer said she knew early on that she wanted to connect with people.
She remembers growing up and seeing the connections her family would make with others -- such as during Hurricane Katrina, when her family cooked pots of gumbo, knocked on doors and offered food and friendship to their fellow Louisianans.
She told Z100 in that April interview, “I think there’s something in that that allowed me to communicate -- learning people’s stories, learning what they go through. … I want to communicate to people I may never know, people I may never see.”
For a time, Daigle thought she would go into the medical field and do missionary work. Post sickness and after returning to her studies – she still was able to graduate early from a charter school -- she took a year off before starting college and headed to Brazil.
Then she enrolled at Louisiana State University to concentrate on a degree in Child Family Studies.
Music always called to her, though, so much so that, beyond leading worship at her church, she competed on “American Idol" when she was 17 years old (she would receive a golden ticket and advance to the next rounds but eventually would get a "no').
It was when she moved to Nashville that she really started to blossom, collaborating with songwriters, landing a record deal and then releasing her debut album, “How Can It Be.”
The title single from that album peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart.
But it would be her third full-length release, “Look Up Child,” that would change everything.
Daigle ended up traveling back home to Louisiana. She said in her press material for the album that she felt burned out and wanted to recharge. Being back where she found so much inspiration for her music helped her create the album she wanted. It includes “organic instrumentation,” live musicians, a string section, bluesy, soulful vocals and a sense of vulnerability.
The album catapulted the contemporary Christian artist to the pop charts, where her music has now reached mainstream listeners. She would become the first female singer to have a song on both the Christian Airplay and Adult Pop Songs charts.
Daigle has said in the press materials for her album that with “Look Up Child,” she wanted to incorporate that childlike sense of whimsy and wonder in the world, even carrying a Mr. Potato Head with her to remind her of that when things get stressful.
“When you’re a child, you believe anything is possible,” she said in the album’s press release, written by Rick Florino. “I want that.”
Daigle won two Grammys in 2018, one for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for “Look Up Child” and Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song for “You Say," which reached No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Not that she plans on changing now that she has found success on the pop charts.
It’s all about being authentic, she said, and communicating what she knows and who she is.
Beyond the Grammys, Daigle has earned multiple Billboard Music Awards, received two American Music Awards, “How Can It Be” has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, and one of her original songs, "Almost Human," is included on the “Blade Runner 2049” soundtrack.
Daigle announced on Sept. 16 that she will embark on her first headline world tour in 2020, having sold out every one of her concert dates in 2019, including at GCU Arena. The world tour will travel to 44 cities starting Jan. 18 in Melbourne, Australia, before returning to the U.S. in February. The tour will end in her hometown of Lafayette later in the year.
Daigle told The Christian Post that 2019 has been a “life-changing” year for her: “There’s no better feeling than to be able to look out from the stage and see how people have connected with the songs on this album,” she said.