Singer performs in Lewiston on Friday, July 14
Preview by Joshua Maloni
It’s been a minute since Artpark & Company slotted a straight-up Christian music-making solo artist into its list of concert headliners. In the summer of 2007, Rebecca St. James performed inside the Mainstage Theater to a crowd of about 1,000 people.
In this, Artpark’s 50th anniversary season, the Lewiston visual, cultural, educational and performing arts company welcomes the genre back – and has not only moved the venue – to the outside amphitheater – but has booked perhaps the biggest name in all of Christian music: Lauren Daigle.
How big, you ask?
Daigle’s top five songs on Spotify – “You Say,” “Rescue,” “Trust in You,” “Look Up Child” and “How Can It Be” – have been played more than 915 million times. On YouTube, the videos for these songs have been watched more than 575 million times, not counting live and special versions.
Now, before anyone starts to limit this concert experience in their minds (say, “That’s only for church folks,” or “I don’t want to be preached to,” for example), consider this: Daigle is a recurring performer on “American Idol”; her music has been featured on “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Voice” and the film “Sing 2”; and her bio notes “Daigle … grew up in Lafayette, singing constantly, absorbing the local zydeco, blues and Cajun music. She loved pop stars like Celine Dion and Whitney Houston and soul icons like Aretha Franklin, Al Green and James Brown; at her elementary school, they played ‘Respect’ every morning before the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Daigle’s music is about three things universally accepted and valued: hope, positivity and joy. It’s not for or against anyone, but values human connection – for everyone.
Lauren Daigle (Image courtesy of Atlantic Records/Centricity Music/PFA Media)
The singer, who will perform at Artpark on July 14, recently released a self-titled album – and is set to drop another batch of songs later this year. A newly crowned K-LOVE Female Artist of the Year, Daigle shared more in this edited Q&A.
Q: You have been downright giddy in describing this new, self-titled album. Now that the songs are out, now that you've done some interviews – maybe you've had a chance to catch your breath – when you look back on this process, what stands out to you about making this album? Why was it so special?
Lauren Daigle: That's a great question. Well, one of the primary things are the people who I got to make the record with. So, Natalie Hemby. Mike Elizondo was my producer. And every time that we stepped into the studio, it was kind of one of those things of like, “What are we going to get ourselves into today?”
He was so collaborative, and I remember for certain elements, I would say, “Hey, can we try this?” Or “What about doing this?” And he never said no, unless there was something chord-wise or structurally, musically, that wouldn't work. He allowed me to be very inventive and creative in the process.
And then I had songwriters that became such dear, dear friends. I didn't know Natalie before making this record. I ended up meeting her in the process, and she became like a sister to me. Amy Wadge, Shane McNally, Lori McKenna. Jason Ingram – who had written a lot with me in the past. It was just this really beautiful thing of moving into a new season, while keeping the things that I love also intact.
Q: You’ve shared how much joy you had in making this album, and we certainly hear that in the songs. Joy is not necessarily the feeling that people were experiencing when you recorded this material. Obviously, it's been a tough couple of years. For you, where does your joy come from?
Lauren Daigle: Oh, I love that. 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. And that's something I definitely had to learn through the making of this record, because of the times that we were living in. And I felt like God gave me this record to pull me to deeper elements of joy.
Q: You know, it would be silly to ask if you expected to have the success that you've had, and now continue to have with this new material. But have you given any thought as to why your music resonates with people in the way in which it does?
Lauren Daigle: I feel like it's 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.
Q: You have a full fall tour. Before that, you have a handful of summer dates. We're lucky enough that you picked us, and our award-winning Artpark.
Lauren Daigle: Yay!
Q:. Tell me about your live show, and how do you plan to work in your new material?
Lauren Daigle: Oh my gosh. OK, so, our live show is absolute. I mean, when I say I cannot wait, we've completely transformed the set. Everything from the material, obviously – I'm going to be singing all the new songs – but also the design. Getting to see how these songs have taken shape in the way that the stage looks and stuff, is pretty special. We just got our mockups back the other day, and tears actually filled my eyes, because I was like, “This is so beautiful. So beautiful.”
It was really, really special to me – and I can't wait. I can’t wait for everybody to be on “The Kaleidoscope Tour” with us!
Q: Very nice. We just saw you on “American Idol.” You performed, you mentored Megan Danielle. Tell me a little bit about that experience, and what makes her so special – and that bond that you now have formed with her?
Lauren Daigle: Oh yeah. She is such a curious person. That's what, I think, is honestly at the core of our bond. She is someone with such incredible natural talent. She doesn't force anything. She just grew up knowing how to sing. It was just in her from the beginning. And I feel like that's the thing that's so relatable. That's what people connect to so much about her voice, is there's nothing that she forced.
It just was in her innate talent – and that raw talent is something that's so becoming, and it's so beautiful, and I connected to her about that.
But I also connected to her because of her story. We both had grandfathers that passed away. Yeah, that made a really big impact on our lives. And this is what's crazy: They were both named Chuck. The same name. I was like, “What? That's incredible!?!”
Q: What does it mean to you, this early in your career, to have artists like Megan pick your songs to sing, and to hold you in such high regard?
Lauren Daigle: That is something that constantly blows my mind. You know, I feel like I can never take that for granted, because you never know when you're going to be able to have a voice in someone's life, and when that season may change.
So, I definitely hold that with high regard, and getting to have these moments with these artists is something I treasure so deeply because I know where I was when people spoke into my career, or spoke into just my life – how much I needed those people at the time that they intersected with my life, and the distance that I was able to run because there were other people around me kind of giving me hope. When things got difficult, they're giving me encouragement, when I was just ready to go home.
And to be able to be that type of voice for someone, it's very special. I take it highly because of knowing the difference that can make in someone's life.
Lauren Daigle with her recent K-LOVE Fan Awards trophy. (Photo by Kayla Schoen // courtesy of The Media Collective)
Q: We know you have another batch of new songs right around the corner. What can we look forward to with those songs and that material?
Lauren Daigle: I cannot wait. So, the whole thing was always intended to be one cohesive record and, when we started listening to it, talked about it with (CEO) Julie Greenwald from Atlantic (Music Group), she looked at me and she said, “Hey, would you be interested in breaking this into two pieces?” Because she knew how important it was for me for this material to be digested. As a record, not just as like singles. And I said, “Yeah, I would be interested,” because I don't want songs, like, 14 through 19, to get lost just because people are dealing with listening fatigue.
And it was such the right decision, because now it also gave us an opportunity for people to get another batch of songs versus everything coming on at once.
If you're a fan and you've been waiting for five years for your artist that you love to release a record, I think it was pretty special to be able to say I don't have one, I actually have two coming your way. So, that was something that was also really important to me.