Originally published in Cleveland
Last week on the Billboard 200 chart, a Christian album sat at No 3, nestled between Kamikaze, Eminem’s diss track-laden new release, and Zoo, the sophomore effort from rapper Russ.
That marked an impressive debut for Look Up Child, the second studio album from contemporary Christian artist Lauren Daigle, a Louisiana native and former American Idol contestant, who says on her website that the album “has transcribed the pulse of my veins to musical form.”
Look Up Child fell to No 16 this week, just behind Cardi B’s enduringly popular Invasion of Privacy, but the accolades keep stacking up for Daigle, who became the first artist ever to top all five of Billboard’s main Christian charts at the same time.
Look Up Child also pulled off the biggest sales week for a Christian album by a woman in more than 20 years, and logged the biggest week for any Christian album since 2009.
Daigle’s husky and soulful voice has drawn apt comparisons to Adele.
Love of singing found in church
She has recalled finding her love of singing — like many other artists, Christian or otherwise — in church, where she sang in the choir and, eventually, led worship services.
But Daigle also explored a more mainstream path to music, auditioning multiple times for American Idol. She went the farthest in 2012, landing in the singing competition’s Las Vegas group round before getting cut.
It was during her third American Idol attempt that she realised she wanted a future in Christian music.
“You would think going up there, doing that would be the most fulfilling thing ever, like woah, I’m getting to stand in front of such influential people” she recalled in a 2013 YouTube video. But every time I’d go to just breathe and sing into the mic, I’d be like ‘God, this is not fulfilling, like, God, why is this different?'”
“And (God) taught me that the reason why is because if He’s not involved or if He’s not the centre focal point, then it’s just going to be empty,” Daigle shared.
Faith and self-worth
On You Say, the lead single from Look Up Child, Daigle sings of her faith helping her to see her own self-worth.
“You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing / You say I am strong when I think I am weak / 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, oh I believe, what You say of me.”
She told People that fans had credited the song with saving their lives.
“People started blowing up my YouTube and my Instagram and saying, ‘Hey, I have wanted to commit suicide — this song completely just got me out of it,'” Daigle told the magazine.
Still in the spotlight
Daigle hasn’t exactly been out of the spotlight since American Idol. She sang with Reba McEntire at last year’s Academy of Country Music awards, offering an emotional performance of McEntire’s 2017 single Back to God.
Daigle’s 2015 debut album, How Can It Be, earned two Grammy nominations, including best contemporary Christian music album. She also won best new artist at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards in 2015.
Now Daigle seems destined for even more mainstream success. And she’s embracing it.
In a recent Associated Press interview, she talked about wanting to stay true to her Christian fan base while also appealing to a wider audience. She cited the gospel influences on Chance the Rapper’s 2016 album Coloring Book.
“That was something I wanted to bring in as well,” she said. “Like elements where people who weren’t necessarily church people, or Christians … who don’t really dive into that kind of music can hear something and it be compelling enough and it be strong enough to where they are drawn in and feel welcomed and invited.”