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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Lauren Daigle brings a kaleidoscope of color by melding pop with Contemporary Christian at Spokane Arena

When attempting to become a singer-songwriter, it’s not just about talent. Persistence and belief are necessary ingredients while traveling a path littered with rejection letters.

After Lauren Daigle failed to make the final round of 24 contestants on “American Idol” in 2010, the teary-eyed Louisiana State University alumna approached infamous ”Idol” judge Simon Cowell as she walked out the door.

“What did the other four blond girls have that I didn’t have?” Daigle asked the British arbiter of taste.

“He just said to come back next year, since there weren’t enough spots,” Daigle said.

Daigle, 32, returned in 2011 but again failed to reach the final 24 who were featured on the music reality show.

“My mother said, ‘If you believe God wants you to sing, then you have to hold on to that.’ “

The Lake Charles, Louisiana, native, who will perform Friday at the Spokane Arena, kept the faith. Four years after her second dismissal from “American Idol,” her debut album, “How Can It Be” reached the top of the Billboard Christian Albums chart and was certified platinum. The album was buoyed by three No. 1 singles, “First,” “Trust in You” and “O’Lord.”

“It’s been an amazing ride,” Daigle said. “But I believed that I could make it. Sometimes when you’re told no, you drift into apathy. The other option is to continue on and work hard and that’s what I chose to do.”

Daigle’s third album, “Look Up Child,” features the crossover hit “You Say” which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart. “Look Up Child” became the highest charting album by a woman on the Christian charts in 20 years.

The two-time Grammy winner started playing arenas.

“Playing the big halls is just amazing,” Daigle said while calling from her New Orleans home. “I love performing on the big stage and connecting with the crowds and playing songs from this album.”

Daigle is touring behind her eponymous release, which has been buoyed by the infectious single, “Thank God I Do.” Daigle continues to add pop elements to her Christian Contemporary tunes. It’s working well for her since her self-titled project is her fourth album to reach the top of the Christian Albums chart.

The new effort is the most eclectic of Daigle’s albums since it veers from pop to funk to soul to folk. Daigle tips her cap to producer Mike Elizondo (Fiona Apple, Twenty One Pilots) for steering her in the right direction.

“Mike is the genius of multiple genres,” Daigle said. “He was the perfect person to get these sounds out of me. We connected at the right time since I’m very inspired right now. I’m moved by music and culture and everything I do reflects that.”

That’s so even for the album cover of her latest album, which features a smiling Daigle surrounded by a kaleidoscope of colors.

“The album was shot right here in New Orleans and it reflects the joie de vivre of life, the joy of life here,” Daigle said. ” But I’ve experienced the joy of life and music ever since I was a kid.”

The eclectic sounds and creativity of Lake Charles had an impact on Daigle.

“There was cajun, zydeco, French and Haitian music. It was this incredible melting pot,” she said. “It was an anything goes type of music.

“I loved growing up with the whimsy and provocative culture. Music was everywhere in my childhood. It’s still here in Louisiana. It’s the birthplace of jazz and I’m still blown away being around all of this. I have so much respect for the music down here as well as the way people live in Louisiana.”

If Daigle wasn’t sequestered due to an autoimmune illness during high school, she might have a different career.

“I didn’t really start singing until I was 16,” Daigle said. “I was sick and it was so difficult for me to be homebound since I’m such a social butterfly my mother had me take singing lessons. That experience helped me deal with isolation.

“Singing was the outlet I needed.”

When Daigle recovered, she sang in the church choir.

“The choir director suggested that I try out for ‘American Idol,’ ” Daigle said. “I did it and even though I didn’t get as far as I hoped with that show, it led me to the path I’m on now and I’m eternally grateful.”