Christian rock began in the late 1960s and early ’70s, when it was known as “Jesus Music,” a grass-roots movement led by longhaired hippie outsiders. It gradually built its own infrastructure of record stores, media, festivals and radio stations. Major labels took notice, and began to buy up Christian labels or start imprints of their own.
The first schism came over the Amy Grant generation of crossover artists who played songs that could be interpreted as devout or romantic, a middle ground known derisively in some CCM circles as the “Jesus is my boyfriend” or the “God or a girl” phenomenon. But Daigle’s crossover, close observers say, was different.
“Lauren represented a new type of stardom on unapologetically confessional terms,” said Joshua Kalin Busman, an assistant professor of music history at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. “She left no ambiguity in her music and spoke transparently about her personal relationship to God.”
As a child, Daigle dismissed Christian music as cheesy. She was raised in a religious home that welcomed secular music, as long as there “weren’t F-bombs every five seconds,” she said. She got in trouble a lot at school, for cheating or talking too much. She believes she has ADHD, and also mentions “some OCD” and a few episodes of depression.
As her interest in music grew, she cleaned her church choir director’s bathroom in exchange for singing lessons. But she also became ill, with symptoms that included extreme fatigue, jaundice and worsening vision. She eventually learned she had cytomegalovirus, a chronic illness, and began home-schooling using a syllabus and a set of VHS tapes as her guide: “That was the season that changed the trajectory of my life.”
She started reading the Bible and had visions of herself as a music star. “I could literally see stages and tour buses. I said, ‘God, are you showing me this, or am I losing my mind?’ I think it was God, because everything I saw has come to pass.”