By Joshua Maloni
The artists performing at Artpark this summer have placed songs in major motion pictures, sold millions of records, toured the world and, yes, even had a flavor of Hibbard’s Original Frozen Custard named in their honor.
But only one is an “American Idol.”
Lauren Daigle, a past competitor, season 21 mentor to finalist Megan Danielle, and recent finale headliner, will perform July 14 in the Artpark Amphitheater.
Following her time on “American Idol” as a contestant on seasons nine and 11, Daigle wasn’t necessarily planning to flip the music world on its ear. She chipped in on a project spearheaded by fellow Louisiana musicians, and her vocal prowess caught the eye of Centricity Music.
Daigle was signed to a record contract and, over the course of just two full-length albums (plus a Christmas sampler), Daigle established herself as one of the most important and impactful artists in all of music.
She earned Platinum status, plus, a slew of awards (two Grammys, four AMAs and 10 GMA Doves), as, get this – a Christian artist.
While that might seem less daunting in a decade featuring for KING & COUNTRY, We the Kingdom and Anne Wilson, this level of success by a faith-based songwriter hadn’t been seen since the days of Amy Grant.
Like, in the 1990s.
Pre-Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok – you name it.
It was a time when only Zack Morris had a cellphone, and the internet was just an idea in Al Gore’s mind.
Three decades later, Daigle has shattered the wall that separated church and state – or, more accurately, Christian and mainstream music.
And she did it in an era when everything competes with everything, when attention spans are nil, negativity drowns out flames of uprising, and Red States have fisticuffs with Blue States. Daigle has cut through the mire, and walls of white noise, rising to the top by making music that dares you not to feel hope, peace and joy.
Perhaps that’s why she holds the record for longest-charting No. 1 single – longer than the Beatles, Elvis, Beyonce and Taylor Swift – for her song “You Say.”
“You say I am loved when I can't feel a thing // You say I am strong when I think I am weak // And You say I am held when I am falling short // And when I don't belong, oh You say I am Yours // And I believe, (I) oh I believe (I) // What You say of me (I) // I believe.”
For 129 weeks, those words ruled the Hot Christian Songs chart – and helped the 2018 album “Look Up Child” land at No. 3 on the overall Billboard 200.
In an interview Thursday, Daigle said, “Joy, for me, comes from seeing people; seeing people's smiles; being able to offer a helping hand; offering any element of hope to people.
“The epitome of joy, to me, is knowing that God loves me – knowing that I have that relationship with him. That's the epicenter of my joy.
“And the good thing about it is it doesn't have to run out. Like, it's not one of those things that is built on circumstance. Joy is so much deeper than circumstance.”
Daigle said her music resonates with people “because it's matters of the soul. There's so many people that are desperate, or that are searching for somebody to make them feel like they belong, or like, ‘Oh, the things that I deal with in a day in and day out basis, someone else experiences that, too, or they understand that, too.’
“The human connection, I feel like, is something that, regardless of if people realize it or not, we're all longing for in some shape or form. And writing songs about the human condition, writing songs about what hope feels like, or what love feels like, I think it’s the connection point. It's the point of which people say, ‘I can relate to that. I understand what she's saying there. That's been a part of my story, too.’
“And that's the part, to me, that makes writing music so important. I want to forever, forever and forever, write music that connects to the soul of a person.”
Lauren Daigle will perform at the Artpark Amphitheater on Friday, July 14. For more information, or for tickets, visit https://www.artpark.net/events/lauren-daigle.