Lauren Daigle: A Dream Planted by God Himself
Long before she won a Grammy, Lauren Daigle was a teenager homebound by sickness. But during this period of isolation, God gave her hope for a future through a dream of becoming a singer. Years later, the Christian music singer and songwriter has millions of fans but she isn't interested in having followers herself. Instead, she hopes to always direct people to the Savior of the World. Although the road certainly hasn't always been easy, Lauren can now look back and see that God was working in her all along.
The closer you draw to Him, He draws near to us and, in that exchange, He really does give us a mirror and let us see who we are. He stands in front of that mirror and we’re able to see ourselves through Him.
Watch Lauren perform on BYUtv's "Christmas Under the Stars": BYUtv.org
"Christmas Under the Stars" recap:
Lauren on The Ellen Show:
Lauren's acceptance speech at the Billboards Music Awards that Morgan referenced:
Music video for Lauren's song, "You Say":
3:00- "A place where you can watch souls come to life"
9:07- "Getting to Share Him"
11:51- Decision-making and criticism
18:04- Discovering identity through periods of isolation and incubation
25:01- What Does It Mean To You To Be "All In" the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Morgan Jones 0:00
When she was a teenager, Lauren Daigle contracted a debilitating virus which kept her out of school for nearly two years. It was during that time though, that Lauren says the Lord began to just pour in passion for music and writing songs. That passion has driven Lauren to create music that unabashedly testifies of Christ and reminds all who listen of their identity as children of God.
A native of Louisiana, Lauren Daigle is a two-time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter. Her third studio album, "Look Up Child" debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 chart. The album extended far beyond the Christian world and achieved incredible crossover success. This Christmas, Lauren is the featured guest for BYUtv's "Christmas Under the Stars."
This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Jones, and I am honored to have Lauren Daigle on the line with me today. Lauren, welcome.
Lauren Daigle 1:12
Thank you, Morgan. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Morgan Jones 1:15
Well, this is such a treat for me, I have to tell you – I am a huge fan. I actually had tickets to see you in Salt Lake and it got canceled. And so this is, this is a makeup for that for me.
Lauren Daigle 1:28
Oh, I am telling you, I'm so ready. I'm so ready to be doing music again. And it's funny, the other day I was talking with someone and they're like, "When are the shows coming back? When is that going to start?" I'm like, "Your guess is as good as mine." Currently they're saying in the fall.
And I just – I'm telling you, I didn't realize, like when we first took a couple months away, I thought, "Okay, this is going to be alright. We're going to get to just kind of refresh. And then when we come back to the shows, we'll be hitting the ground running." And then it's been quite some time. And now I'm like, "Okay, I am chomping at the bit."
Like I am so ready to get back on the road. You know how a lot of times you – I don't know if you're, if you're familiar with this, or if it's just me, because it could very well just be me but – when there's a long enough time you start to question, is this what I'm supposed to be doing? Am I supposed to be doing something else? And this is like the great pause in life to make me question it. And so I, I think I started off like, "Okay, cool. This would just be like rest." And then I was like, "Oh, I really miss it." And then it was like, "Maybe this isn't what I'm supposed to be doing with my life." And then it was like, "Okay, I didn't think that I was going to miss it as much as I miss it." And now I'm so ready. So hopefully we can come back to Salt Lake City and see each other in person.
Morgan Jones 2:52
Well, we would love that. But in the meantime, this Christmas special will hold us over.
Lauren Daigle 2:58
Morgan Jones 2:59
I am so – I'm so excited to talk a little bit with you today. And I have to tell you, one thing that amazes me about you, Lauren, and I followed, I followed you for a good little while now. But you have essentially shared your faith and your beliefs on some of the biggest stages in the world. You sing about Jesus on The Ellen Show, and on the Billboard Music Awards just a couple of months ago you said in your acceptance speech, "There is amazing hope found in God. For all those watching who need hope tonight, He has it." And I was so impressed by that. And I just wondered, have you always had such a deep love for the things of God, or when did that kind of kick in for you in your life?
Lauren Daigle 3:44
It really kicked in – it's kind of funny – I was sick when I was in high school for about two years. And I remember, you know, being like, the kid in school who wanted to always take up for the underdog.
I have friends who – from every kind of people group, if you will, like every popular group to the not-so popular group to the theater people to the – like, you name it –to the sports people, whatever. And I was just kind of the girl that hung out with everybody. And when I would see certain people bullying other people. I was like, "No. This can't be – this can't be the case." And so I would make them sit at the lunch tables together. And like I would take certain people, like we'd go to dances and I would bring a date that was not in the group, you know what I – it's just like I was always trying to blend two worlds that were opposing each other or if one world was opposing the other whatever. I was always trying to, to get them to come together.
And it's so funny to me that it's kind of a reflection of what my life looks like now. I didn't realize that God was stirring something much greater in me at that time. And so that was kind of when I was in high school, then I get sick, I was taken out and I was placed on homebound for two years. And I started having all these dreams about singing. And it was so, it was so random. I mean, it was really like visions, almost. Like I could see tour buses, I could see stages, I could see audiences, charts, awards, whatever, you name it.
And I remember thinking to myself, "Wow, this would be an incredible dream." Like, I feel like it's real. And step by step kind of led me to, you know, meeting my label, and I wasn't singing in high school, like I didn't, I wasn't a part of anything like that. But it was really cultivated in that alone period – in that isolation period. And I think that was when God, like, marked my heart with the things that He cares about.
And I remember thinking if there – you know, I was feeling despair in moments – or depression even – in moments, just because of being isolated. I'm a people person and that much isolation – especially when everybody's you know, getting their driver's license and going to school dances and all that stuff – and I was at home, it was really hard. So I would cry by myself. And in that desperation, I would say, "God, if you are real, please, please help me see things that are to come, to just keep me hopeful."
And that's when I started having all of those dreams. And so I just, I say that to say, I really think He became my comforter, He became my friend, He became my confidant, you know? And I felt such hope and such joy in that period, when I should have felt nothing but pain. Nothing but loneliness, and abandonment. I don't know, it was this moment where even though – it's funny, because when I finished that period, I was like, "Okay, God, I want to go to the world and sing for you. But I don't want to do any Christian music. I just want to sing for you, but my friends will make fun of me if I sing Christian music."
It's so fun that I went on to college and met this band and I ended up being in like a background singer for just some tracks on the record. And that band got picked up by this record label. And I got signed through that experience. And it was pretty crazy, the lead singer of the band got an emergency appendectomy. And then I stepped in to sing lead for one song, and I got signed after that. I didn't even know the showcase, or whatever it was, to get signed. Like I had no idea. I didn't know, I was so green. God will use anybody. I knew nothing about the industry. So green.
Once I met that label, I really started realizing why God brought me to the places that he did. Because even in my humanness of saying, "No, God, people will make fun of me if I sing Christian music, I don't want to be a part of this. I want to be a part of something that's like, the top end." I had all these, these ideologies in my head, and He was like, "No girl, I'm going to show you place where you can watch souls come to life." And that is what I love. I love it so much. Because I experienced it for myself. And I don't want anybody to walk this earth alone or just feeling like there isn't more to life, you know? Yeah, and so I think that's why – that's where the desire of sharing who He is to the world comes from.
Morgan Jones 9:01
Yeah. Well, you've already touched on several things that I wanted to bring up, so this is perfect. But the first thing is now – so you mentioned that you didn't want to sing Christian music – but now, what does it mean to you to be able to sing and share your faith in the process? And in spaces, like these big award shows, or these late-night TV shows, does that take courage to do that? Or is that just in you?
Lauren Daigle 9:28
I definitely think there are moments where it takes courage. Honestly, this is gonna sound crazy, but it depends on how much I've been listening to social media. So if my head is buried in it, and I'm like, "Oh, that was a mean comment." "Oh, that wasn't kind," or "Oh, that just hurt," you know? If I'm in that headspace then I find myself having to really wear the cloak of courage to get out there and keep talking about Jesus.
And then on the flip side, if I'm not surrounding myself with those voices, I find that it's just delight. It's like sheer delight and just getting to share Him, and know that on the flip side, somebody's life might be changed for the good.
We've had so many people write-in or call and say, you know, "I was going through cancer and your music is what I listened to my entire chemo process." Or "I was going –I had a really hard time, my family member passed away," or "I was going to commit suicide and this song gave me hope." I've heard those stories so many times. And it's the most beautiful gift to be a part of. So when I go on those shows, it really is because I think, "Wow, this could be an opportunity to meet someone who's maybe never gone to church before. Who's never even heard of God, or Jesus or any of that."
And I know that we think like, "It's America, everybody has!" But it's actually not – that's not the case. Like there's so many environments where those names are never mentioned, you know? And so, just to think, "Wow, this could be a chance for somebody's life to find hope and freedom and redemption." I'm all about it. I think it's just, it's so much fun. And it really, you know, if it wasn't true, then I think it wouldn't – I don't know – I think the fact that it is true, is what makes this so beautiful. Like people can actually have their heart find satisfaction, and fulfillment and the connection that they've always longed for.
Morgan Jones 11:48
That's beautiful. Thank you. Another thing that I wanted to ask you about, and you mentioned, kind of negative comments, but having followed you for a bit, I feel like it kind of feels like sometimes Lauren, that you can't win. Which has to be so frustrating. So how do you decide when you're making decisions in your career, how do you decide what you will and will not do, and how do you keep those criticisms from getting to you?
Because I look at it, and I'm like, even being willing to do something for a television station that is connected to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, people could give you a hard time about that. But this is something that you're willing to do, and you talked about bringing groups of people together. And I think that this special is such a great example of that, because we all believe in Jesus.
Lauren Daigle 12:43
Yeah, and I am all about just seeing people come together in unity. Like, these times right now – if I'm just being so vulnerable, it is so hard, for everybody, for sure. But I'll tell you why it's hard for me – is because I don't function where there is dissension. Like, it doesn't – I just can't. I don't even know how to say it. But it really grieves me to the core.
There's moments where I just don't even want to get up out of bed because of just the sorrow in my heart that people could have such animosity towards each other. And I just, I think whenever I see those comments and things like that, it's further proof of that animosity. And it's so – it is hard. I'm not gonna sit here and be like, "Oh, yeah, it's fine. I just brushed off my shoulders."
No, like, there are days where – or seasons even – where some of the comments and some of the things that I'm told, I mean, they hurt so deep, and I have to take time to, like, heal from those wounds. I am not invincible, like . . . and it's really hard. Whenever – you know, you have critics write articles about you, or people post things that aren't true. And you're not allowed to say anything, you know? You can't retaliate. You can't like, fight for yourself or defend yourself in return, because then it just makes everything messy, you know?
And so there are moments where that gets, that gets really hard, and really, it can be overwhelming. And what I have to do is just take time. I think time is the best medicine. And I have to say, "God, show me how to forgive people who don't understand me. Like, help me to forgive people. Even the people that persecute me, even the people that come against me, like, how do I lend that freedom to them – that forgiveness to them?"
Because I don't want to be bound by anger. You know, like why are they not understanding? Like I would never want to do anything wrong or against people or you know, whatever they want to come up with. And why do people think that there's something wrong with me? A lot of times in decision making – I know that was one of the things that you asked – is like, in decision making, I just say, "Would Jesus delight in being found here? Okay, cool." Well, I don't think that I should limit myself to bringing His word there.
And that might sound way too simple for some people, they might think, "Oh, you're making alliances with this or that or whatever.” No, I'm just saying, Jesus, was the one who sat among many different types of people. He didn't limit himself to people that only thought the way that He did. He didn't limit himself to the people that only saw life the way that He did. And so I think I just say, "Alright, God. At the end of my day, I want to know that I did my best to reach every tribe, every nation, every tongue to hear your name, and to know who you are." And I think that makes people a little angry, because it means that I go to places that should be, you know, shameful, or should be looked down upon or whatever.
And it's not that. It's really not. It's that there are people around that want the gospel as well. And how do I be a conduit? How do I say, "God, speak through me. Sing through me. Tell people what it is that, you know, that their heart needs" – if I'm not in those places.
So, yeah. I think just giving somebody a smile on their face is such a rich experience, especially with the amount of hostility that's going on in the world right now. And so if I'm someone who gets to be a part of that, I'm excited. That's exciting to me. That's exciting to bring the good news and to share joy with people, you know?
I think about that sometimes too, like, what are the fruits of the Spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, and I just think, if what I'm doing can bring that fruit into someone's life, then it – maybe it's good. Maybe it's good. Maybe it's really that simple.
Does it evoke the sentiments of the Spirit? If so, then I think we're on the right track. And if there's ridicule and persecution on the other side, Lord Jesus, please give me armor strength to bear the weight of that. And when I'm deeply convicted about something, it's funny, when I know that I know – “No, this is what I'm supposed to do." Those words aren't as painful. And, you know, when it – but when it comes to persecution against my character, or against who I am, that's when it's really – that's when it hurts.
Morgan Jones 17:54
Cuts the deepst.
Lauren Daigle 17:54
Yeah, cuts the deepest. So I think, in that, that's when I just say, "Alright, Lord, gird me up, and help me forgive."
Morgan Jones 18:02
That's so awesome. The song that I think our audience will be most familiar with, is "You Say,” and you have said that you wrote that song in hopes that each time that you sing it, it would remind you of the things that you know about who you are and I love your focus on identity. It's something that I have had on my mind so much lately. This idea that – if we have our identity as children of God, in the forefront of our lives, then that changes everything. If we understand that at the root of who we are, then everything about who we are and how we live our lives changes a bit. Why would you say Lauren – just briefly – that it's important to have that firm grasp on your identity? And how has that identity helped you?
Lauren Daigle 18:54
That is a great question. I really think that a lot of my identity was forged in that isolation time. And that time when I was sick –
Morgan Jones 19:04
Which is a lot of people can relate to right now, right? This feeling of isolation.
Lauren Daigle 19:10
Yes! Yeah, I actually rejoice sometimes when it's like, "Okay, I'm gonna have to be in this kind of incubation period." That's what I started to call it because, you know, it's like, when chickens are about to hatch or whatever, they put them underneath an incubator, and I think, you know, and they're in a space of isolation, right? So, I think a lot of times, "Wow God, in isolation, you've always brought something forward. You've always allowed something to be born from that experience."
So it's really more like incubation than it is total isolation. And I – in that time, I would look up stories about people that have overcome great difficulty or great traumas or great pain or you know, whatever, and saw how they were able to overcome those hardships. And I think in that, that's kind of where my identity was formed, was "Alright God. Here's a hardship, but I need to stand on your truths and your principles and not look at these things that I'm walking through as definite, but just as a route to a greater journey." And it really kept my focus alive.
Well, fast forward all of these years, whenever I found myself kind of at this crossroads, it was like this split, where the road took a V, you know? And I could go to the right or to the left, and it was at the Dove Awards, this award show that takes place in Nashville, and it was my first time ever going, I was brand new to the industry and I remember sitting after that award show, I had won, like three awards or something. And I was, it was the next day, and I was just like, ridden with . . . I don't want to say anxiety, but just questions. Just like, "Oh, my gosh, what did I just get myself into? I'm like, a girl from Louisiana, like, I live in the swamps, you know? I am not used to this "lights, camera, action" kind of life.”
And um . . . it was this weird head spin for me of like, how much of myself do I lose in order to fulfill the role that this industry demands of me? How do I do that? And I don't want to give up that Louisiana girl. I don't want to give up who I've been all this time because – I love who I am and I love where I've come from, and I love how I was created and the things that make me explore and make me dream and all that, right? And then you put yourself into this environment that's like, complete comparison, you're made into a product, you have to measure up to a certain standard. If you don't make a certain amount of money, then you're not important for the overall industry. Like it's just so toxic and weird.
And I remember thinking, "How in the world am I going to survive in this, and not lose that person that came from Louisiana?" And I remember going into my producer’s studio the next day and just saying, "I'm at crossroads. I don't know." And he said, "Well, all the doubts, all the lies that you could believe in this moment." Like, "Let's go ahead and replace them with the truth." And that's how "You Say" was written.
And I remember in that moment, like, full on, felt like it was just God and I in the room, and I was having a direct conversation with them. I remember saying, "Lord, I think that you're about to make this a lot bigger than anything I've ever seen." And I was like, "I thank you for doing what you did in my life. Whenever I was, you know, a teenager in that period." And I remember saying, like, "God, if I don't have my identity in check, I will never survive this. I won't. There's no way I'll be able to sustain what it takes to be in this environment."
And little did I know where He was going to take all of this, like, I had no idea. And I have not done everything right. I'm not even going to claim that whatsoever. There have definitely been mistakes along the way. But just to know that He is my foundation. He is what I'm able to glean from and learn from. And when I make mistakes, I can say, "Alright, that wasn't a good one God, let's – help me clean that up and do that differently," you know, or whatever it looks like. And that is coming from the firm foundation of listening to what He says about who I am. And learning how to gain my identity from Him.
Especially in the question you just asked before, like, you know, when you're being ridiculed, a lot of times you'll sit back and say, "Wait, am I not who I think I am?" And that's a hard question to have to ask yourself like, "Wait, is there something else going on here that I'm just not aware of?" And then you can hear God come and say, "No, let me remind you of who you are," you know. So, just knowing He is so forthright, and the closer you draw to Him – He draws near to us. And in that exchange, He really does give us a mirror and let us see who we are, you know? And He stands in front of that mirror and we're allowed to see ourselves through Him and there's something pretty profound about that experience.
Morgan Jones 24:59
I agree completely. Lauren, I could listen to you talk all day long, but we are running out of time. So I just have one last question for you. And it's a question that we ask at the end of every episode of this podcast. And we deliberately made it a question that we felt like anyone who is a Christian could answer, and that is, what does it mean to you to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Lauren Daigle 25:25
Oh, wow. Okay, I love that. I would say, to be all in means taking on many roles, many moments, many emotions, and it looks like accepting persecution, accepting pain, accepting rejection, accepting loneliness, and in that acceptance, you will find true joy. True beauty, true delight, real hope, like the real satisfaction of knowing Jesus Christ. And so to be all in, in the Gospel, is to see the exchange of ashes for beauty. That's it, I would say.
Morgan Jones 26:12
That is so good. And you are such a delight. And I will keep rooting for you from a distance, and just thank you so much for your time.
Lauren Daigle 26:21
Thank you. I so appreciate it. This is wonderful. Your questions are great. Thank you.
Morgan Jones 26:26
Thank you so much, and we'll look forward to watching your Christmas special.
Lauren Daigle 26:31
All right. I'll see you guys soon.
Morgan Jones 26:35
You can hear Lauren's incredible voice as she is the guest for BYUtv's "Christmas Under the Stars" which you can watch for free anytime this holiday season on the BYUtv app or online at BYUtv.org. A huge thank you to Derek Campbell of Mix at Six studios for his help with this – and every – episode of this podcast and thank you so much for listening.
Merry Christmas, everyone.