Momentous Mondays: Influential artists of the next 5-10 years – Week 17: Lauren Alaina

I think my favorite artists are honest artists and as a songwriter, that’s what you have to do. You have to be willing to put yourself out there in a really vulnerable way. I really wrote the album accidentally [laughs]. I wrote it to make myself feel better and process what I was going through. When it was time to put the album together, it had kind of written itself because I had a collection of songs that told my story and kind of reintroduced me. Which I think is super important for someone like me, coming from a TV show — people don’t really get to know who you are as an artist on something like that because you’re doing cover songs. You’re showcasing your personality and things like that more than the artistry. It was six years ago, which is crazy for me to even say, but I wanted people to know where I’ve been and what’s changed about me. That’s the thing with the music business is, I’m on stage a lot and I’m in front of people, but they don’t know me unless I tell them who I am. It can be a really lonely business. [On Idol], we never talked about my dad’s alcoholism, we never talked about my eating disorder — I felt like my life was a big secret and I just couldn’t do that anymore. I needed to free myself from secrets, and this album [Road Less Travelled] helped me do that.

Vulnerability. Honesty. Being real. Openness. Staying true to yourself. Authenticity. We’ve all heard these words and phrases thrown around at one time or another in our lives- particularly in the context of meeting someone (potential life partner or an acquaintance or a mate!). We’ve been told not to let our guard down at first, and then slowly open up in many different ways to many different types of people. In terms of honesty, we as people probably reveal the most to our close family, or even a best friend. There probably isn’t anything that our parents or siblings or spouse or best friend doesn’t know about us. Unless you’re a secret agent with a double life, chances are that you’re going to want to share the highs and the lows with the people you care about. But as for friends and extended family, they’ll know less and then so on and so forth, ending with the stranger on the street of which you will tell them absolutely nothing. You might even give a fake name. And if you’re in the process of meeting someone, then obviously you’d give them a little bit of information each time you see them. Later on, you’d given them a piece of your heart, your likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams. And then later on you’d do life with them, either in a romantic or platonic way. That’s just the way it is- that’s how humanity was designed. With holes inside of us that can only be filled by people. And the way that people can reside in our hearts is if we’re willing to be open, honest, vulnerable and authentic. It’s a concept that’s pretty easy to grasp, but it’s a concept that is lost on many.

But what about people whose lives have been in the spotlight from day dot? For the rich and famous, for the well known and respected, for those thrust into the spotlight for whatever reason, and are scrutinised day in and day out? For those who’s parents are pretty intense, and want their child to succeed no matter what, for those parents who live vicariously and vivaciously through their kids, and who’s moods are determined by their child’s success or failure; well that child or children may be honest and vulnerable at a young age not by choice, and then could revert back to being closed, cold and sterile, as an act of rebellion towards system and the unseen pressure of performing always at a certain level. For sport stars, actors, musicians, social media influencers, YouTube stars- the camera is always on you 24/7, so what do you do? Embrace the stage and share everything in your life even though it may not be necessary or warranted? Or do you retreat off the grid and stay silent until whenever you feel ready to share to the world what you want to share? If you have an addiction or a struggle or something that you’re dealing with that you don’t completely have a handle on; well everybody will have an opinion on it, and I do mean everybody. The internet and just people in general (before you meet them and actually know them!) are quite scathing and vicious sometimes, and you probably will be critiqued in more ways you can ever imagine.

So for our heroes on TV and in the U.S. trying to make it as a singer or an actor, and on the internet trying to be the best YouTube star there is… how personal is too personal? Authenticity and vulnerability is good, but is it as good as we all make it out to be? Well I myself are of the humble opinion that you gotta be open if your life is in the spotlight- there’s no way around it – and of late I reckon I’ve heard one of today’s most relevant artists and one of today’s most honest artists, who I believe has indeed mastered the concept of when to open up and how much to open up. And while she has opened up not a ginormous amount, but bit by bit like an onion; the result has been songs with more and more musical and lyrical depth as time goes on, and an impressive discography that I reckon everyone needs to check out. Country artist Lauren Alaina competed on American Idol in 2011, and finished in 2nd place…but the downside of any Idol franchise is that you’re performing covers all the time and no one would know what your sound is and what you stand for. Yet since 2011 Lauren has risen above potentially being pigeonholed as an artist who was only good at covers…and she’s only gone from strength to strength!

For the better part of my entire life, I’ve been immersed in Christian music. Songs that overtly praise Jesus’ name or songs about the Christian life in general. That, my friends, is definitely not a bad thing at all. It is because of me heavily listening to Carman and Delirious? that I renewed my faith in Jesus back in 1997. In 2006 I branched out into other Christian artists besides Carman and Delirious?; yet it is only the past year and a half that I’ve come to realise that God’s name can be glorified and that I myself can be inspired, encouraged and influenced by other types of mainstream music. And what I have found lately is this- that every once in a while, both this year and last year especially, a song or a couple of songs come along and have blown me away. Some by Christian artists, but some not. And in this case, with Lauren Alaina’s latest EP Getting Good which release this year, and even her discography; I’ve been ministered to by an artist I had no idea existed prior to the beginning of last year, and by a genre that I previously would have thought to be a genre I’d steer way away from. I’d originally heard about Lauren’s music from both the singles “Getting Good” and “The Other Side” appearing in both my ‘Daily Mix’ and my ‘Release Radar’ on my Spotify playlists at some point last year. At first I glossed over these tracks, but now that I’ve had time to just take a chance and immerse myself in who I reckon is country’s best secret at the moment; I can safely and confidently say that Lauren is a force to be reckoned with and she sure is going to impact many people in the coming weeks and months. Therefore I’m glad I chose to stick with listening to these two songs in particular- and since the time I’ve heard about Lauren’s two songs, I’ve done some research on the heart of Lauren; and I can tell you- her music and her story about how she has overcome adversity… boy it will lift you up immensely.

Straight off the bat from American Idol (being the runner up also has its perks, as Lauren unveiled an album full of covers from the American Idol performances in 2011!), Lauren got to work in releasing an album. Wildflower dropped in October 2011 yet was a failure in the sense that the three singles from the album failed to charts, while the next two singles after the album (“Barefoot and Buckwild” and “Next Boyfriend”) were mediocre too. Lauren’s first major hit was 6 years later with “Road Less Travelled”, where she spoke about a personal subject that listeners and fans had never heard about before; yet during the time where Lauren failed to make the radio charts year after year just after Idol, the label group (Mercury Nashville, Interscope and 19 Records) still stuck by her and never dropped her. Looking back, it’s fortuitous that those events panned out they way they did- the label had faith and believed in her, as mentioned by Lauren: It’s been a crazy journey for sure, and it’s crazy that it took six years to catch on and to get some traction. Last year was the craziest year of my life. It was insane, but I am so excited about it – and what the future holds. I worked very hard on the music, writing on the Road Less Travelled for about four years. I didn’t get to write the first album (2011’s Wildflower) at all that much – just one song. When you come off a show like American Idol, it’s so fast paced that they don’t give you much time at all in the creative process. But I got to take my time on the album, and got to write every song on it. They are my actual stories. I think that made a difference, and I think that made me believe in the music even more. All of the things I had been working for all of my life started to fall into place last year. That was the best feeling in the world. To have the first five singles not work and do what we wanted them to do, and the sixth release to go number one is very unheard of. The label never dropped me from the roster – I was very fortunate. They believed in me, and we kept working hard. If you keep working at something for a long time, it turns into something. It did, and it changed my life completely

In another time and with another label, Lauren would’ve been dropped from the label and she may not have had the smash hit songs that we’ve come to know and love for being real and inspiring, such as tracks like “Road Less Travelled”, “Doin Fine”, “Getting Good” and “The Other Side”. Yet God works all things for those who love and obey Him- and the fruit is shown through Lauren’s success of late! Yet for all of the accolades Lauren has garnered over the years, for as much as I would want to dive straight in and write about the album Road Less Travelled as a whole, and speak about how great the album is; we must revisit Wildflower in order to gain context, and realise the importance of songwriting, given that 11 out of the 12 songs weren’t Lauren’s. Yes, Lauren indeed only wrote one song out of the 12 (and that was a co-write!), yet there’s something about this album that has me enjoying it immensely. Lauren was only 17 when she released this album- perhaps too young to understand every topic presented in these songs- and perhaps it’s the label’s doing, pushing for an album to be released quickly of ‘original’ material. Whatever the case, Wildflower released shortly after Idol, and yes the project does pale in comparison to Lauren’s sophomore effort, but there’s still gems to be mined here.

Opening track and second single “Georgia Peaches”, written by Christian singer/songwriter Mallary Hope, is a fun, infectious and contagious danceable 3-minute tune about how men can’t go wrong if they choose a ‘Southern Belle’ to be their partner. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t really listening to the lyrics at first when listening to this song- I saw the music video, which was alright, and bobbed my head to the poppy music which was very, very radio friendly; however a deeper listen revealed a shallow anthem unfortunately, which while showcasing Lauren’s voice, did nothing else. It’s sad, because I reckon you’d only get and understand this song if you live in America (which I don’t!) or if you absolutely love, love, love country music (again, which I don’t!), or if you’ve eaten a peach from Georgia (also which I haven’t!). Perhaps this track would grow on me in time, but that time is not today. However Lauren’s first single is definitely in her wheelhouse- her comfort zone, as we are treated to the third cover of “Like My Mother Does”, having previously been presented with recordings from Kristy Lee Cook and Jesse Lee. With Lauren’s heart-warming and impressive version being the only recording of the song to chart at all, there’s a sense of raw emotion and brutal honesty permeating throughout the song, with Lauren fervently relaying to us that ‘…when I love, I give it all I’ve got like my mother does, and when I’m scared I bow my head and pray like my mother does, when I’m weak and unpretty I know I’m beautiful and strong, because I see myself like my mother does…’– and even though the track is a cover, Lauren has also said that she identifies with the message greatly: My mom’s been beside me through this whole thing. Every time I’ve gotten upset, she’s always been there to pick me up. So I feel like it’s really great for me to sing this song just for her, because she deserves it…the first shot [of the music video] we did of the day, I was laying on the bed looking through a photo album with pictures of my childhood in it. It was really emotional because I’ve been away from my family for so long. I saw pictures of me and my daddy and my mama and my brother from when I was little. My mama can handle me when no one else can and she knows how to make me feel better and lift me up. I’m lucky to have her, and to have a song about her makes me feel happy to be able to do that for her. When we argue now, I’ll sing ‘Like My Mother Does,’ and she laughs. She doesn’t want to laugh, but she does. So this song is my way of getting out of trouble now! A track that tugs at my emotions and is still relevant today (as we all can thank our own parents for how they raised us!), “Like My Mother Does” surprisingly charted less than “Georgia Peaches”, though in my opinion is the heartbeat of the entire album Wildflower. In fact I reckon “Like My Mother Does” is one of Lauren’s most inspiring tracks (even though it is a cover!)… and even though the rest of Wildflower failed to chart and was unimpressive according to the numbers; I’d still say that it’s a solid debut and a reminder that Lauren was a stellar and near-flawless singer long before Road Less Travelled!

Written by Carrie Underwood, “Eighteen Inches” is the story of a young couple (possibly teenagers) who moved to a new city where they knew no one. While she was a waitress and he was a valet, later on she found out she was pregnant, and then they had a child eighteen inches long, even though they were still children themselves. Though I’m unsure as to what the song was based on, this song could’ve fit on Carrie’s album Blown Away…although I’m glad that Lauren recorded the track, as I reckon it’s an emotional and beautiful song about deciding on what the important things in life are about, and then running forward to that. Apart from those 3 singles (“Eighteen Inches”, “Like My Mother Does” and “Georgia Peaches”), there weren’t any singles from Wildflower, however other songs were enjoyable to listen to- from “Growing Her Wings” (a coming of age song where a teenager defies her parents because she’s becoming into her own person) to “Funny Thing About Love” (Lauren’s only writing credit- about a boy who flipflops between liking her and not). While the trio of songs “She’s A Wildflower”, “The Middle” and “Dirt Road Prayer” are extremely inspirational and influential, not just in Wildflower but in Lauren’s entire career; as we are blessed to hear Lauren tackle self worth and identity (“She’s A Wildflower”), really living each day to the full (“The Middle”) and a reflective prayer to God to bless ourselves and our family members (“Dirt Road Prayer”). In fact, these three songs are Lauren at her best- so why not let Lauren herself speak about what they mean to her? I mean I could write about these songs, but they’d be bias- as I reckon they’re awesome and fantastic and very inspiring and relevant today. But hearing the stories behind these songs from Lauren herself- that’d be something as that’s probably what was intended.

On “She’s A Wildflower”- I’m definitely a wildflower and I feel that there are tons of girls out there that are wildflowers. It talks about this girl who views herself as not all that. She thinks that she is not good enough. She has a crush on this boy, but she thinks she is invisible to him, so she never says anything. As a teenage girl, you are your own worst critic. You think other people are putting you down, but really it’s you putting yourself down. You are the one who thinks you don’t look good in a certain outfit or that your hair isn’t fixed perfectly. You might think a guy doesn’t like you because of this or that. But, really deep down we are too shy to approach the people and ask them. That is how we are built. I am one of the most open people in the world, but I wasn’t like that until a few years ago. I know how it feels to feel like you aren’t good enough. In elementary school, I was a lot different. When I first heard the song, it made me want to cry because I remember being the freckled-face little girl with a big gap in her teeth. The boys all liked this other girl in elementary school, and no one liked me. I was the one who wanted to throw the football with them and play outside. The older I got, I realized that guys like that, but they just don’t want to admit it. The song represents how girls always put themselves down when they are really wildflowers and they need to bloom

On “The Middle”- [The Middle] has a completely different vibe than all of the other songs. It’s almost like it’s a sad song, but it’s also happy at the same time It has a great message. It’s the kind of song that makes you want to cry. It says don’t worry about the small things, things that have happened in the past or what you think might happen tomorrow. All that matters is what happens right now. That message really appealed to me because crazy things have happened to me in the last year. I think it’s a song that people can relate to no matter what point you are at in your life. It tells you to take each day and make it last. You have to live day by day and you can’t worry about tomorrow. I forget that a lot and I feel like other people do too. It’s a good reminder.

On “Dirt Road Prayer”- This song is basically a young girl’s prayer to God, and I think it has a great message She’s praying for her family members and for God to tell her where to take her life. The chorus talks about how she has a place where she always goes to pray when she is in trouble or is confused. It talks about how much of her life has changed, but that it’s good to know her place will always be there, and that is always something that she will have. I really relate to this song a lot because my own life has completely changed and sometimes, I just need to pray; praying makes me feel better.

Some would say that Lauren had her sophomore slump in between albums- why else would it take 6 years to release full length album #2? But Lauren did keep busy within those 6 years, unlike public perception, as she continued to hone in on her craft and write music that was true and real to her, while also ensuring that others could relate to what she was going through as well. In 2015, we saw Lauren drop Lauren Alaina EP, a decidedly more pop-orientated record, and a follow-up to Wildflower and a project where she wrote every single song. “Next Boyfriend”, a pop/rock/country tune, is a huge pick up line, and possibly an ode to Lauren’s ex-fiancé- and though I can’t relate to this song as I’ve never had a girlfriend, this song does inspire me to get out of my comfort zone and speak to people, if not for a romantic reason then for a platonic one. While “History” is a patriotic track about the NFL that could be the theme song for…every Superbowl game in the history of the sport, and songs like “Painting Pillows” and “Holding The Other” are emotional tear-jerkers- the former being a lament about a break-up that Lauren is still not over, and the latter being a song of gratitude for her significant other; with the assertion that she can win every war and face any storm with that special someone by her side being pretty admirable and noble.

If you had to talk about any album from Lauren Alaina where she made her mark, it’d have to be her breakthrough album Road Less Travelled in 2017 where she spoke about a myriad of issues culminating in her bulimia. Coming from a broken home (Lauren’s parents divorced in 2013), as a teen Lauren struggled with bulimia, and while I don’t know about you, I myself have not had any medical thing or struggle or addiction or sickness that I had to deal with when I was younger. So, I have no idea what Lauren went through or how she was feeling. But if I were to put myself in her shoes, if I were going through a difficult situation and feeling lost and confused and trapped- boy that wouldn’t be fun at all. And from many, many interviews from Lauren, I’d say that confronting that struggle head on and writing about that in the album- and in the title track no less- is very courageous and brave. To look deep inside your heart and soul and serve probably the most vulnerable piece of it on an open platter for the world to see and criticise…that takes guts and I am so proud of Lauren for taking the risk and a step of faith, especially when back then her career could have gone pear-shaped. And as Lauren talks about her ordeal as well as the story behind probably her most inspirational single ever; I think I’m inclined to say that Road Less Travelled is one of the most hopeful, emotional and inspiring albums of 2017!

When I went on the show, people teased me about my weight a lot and that just solidified the way I already felt about myself. For a while, I was very unhealthy. My hair was falling out and throwing up had started to damage my vocal cords…I remember my doctors examining my vocal cords and asking if I had an eating disorder and I instantly said no. But then my mom, who was in the room with me, said my name in her ‘mom voice’ and I just lost it. I didn’t realize that she knew or that anyone knew. But the thing with eating disorders is that people know and I think getting the help you need starts there…I’m just so grateful to have the opportunity to talk about this mental illness with people because it affects so many. I think we’re all insecure about something, but there’s a way to deal with those emotions healthily by seeking professional help earlier on…if you’re around someone who you know is in a bad place and is struggling, try to help by saying something. I wasn’t in a position or in a state of mind to help myself, and if my mom hadn’t said anything who knows how long I would have suffered? Remember that it’s okay to get help and it doesn’t make you weak

I really think that’s such a great way to describe it [Road Less Travelled being an emancipation album]. Because I wasn’t necessarily pinned down in any way, I just wasn’t as honest and open to who I really am. I’ve done a lot to overcome those feelings, and I think people can see the difference now. And I want other people to get to that place, because it’s a really scary place to be to be super insecure and worried about what other people think about you all the time. That has been the goal for me, I just want to be bold and brave and encourage other people to be that way. I’ve just learned to accept who I am and who my family is, and learn that no one is perfect and everyone has a story. Everyone doesn’t necessarily share that story with you, so you don’t know what someone’s going through. People had no idea I was going through those things because I wasn’t telling them. It was ridiculous because I was trying to go out there and pretend my life was perfect. Just don’t judge a book by it’s cover – I know that’s such a cliché thing to say, but it’s true. You don’t know who people are unless they tell you, and even then they’re probably only going to tell you the best parts. I wanted an album for people to feel secure, to listen to those 12 songs and feel good about who they are.

I’ve always heard stories, but I feel like because people know that this album is full, front to back, of my stories, that they’re more willing to tell me theirs — which is so exciting for me because I wrote these songs, and I wrote them to hear other people’s stories. One girl came to me and she had an eating disorder and said that she had been going through recovery. She said she listened to “Road Less Traveled” every day and it makes her feel empowered. I was that girl, I had that eating disorder and I’ve been recovering from that for a few years. I know how it feels, and it’s a scary thing to go through. I think because her story is pretty similar to mine, the emotions I felt with her telling me that – it’s crazy that a song could make her heart connect with mine like it did, and that was really special. I’m just excited that music can do that, and that I get to be a part of it.

“Road Less Travelled” is THE song to listen to from Lauren if you were only to pick one. It’s because it is her story, her testimony if you will, from coming out of the darkness of an eating disorder, to the light of recovery and redemption. With Lauren fervently relaying to us that our outlook on the way we look can change and we just need to redefine what we believe to be beautiful (kind of like the body acceptance that Demi Lovato was championing as later as this year!); “Road Less Travelled” has helped so many, I’m sure- and even if you do not have an eating disorder, I am positive that you’ll fall in love with this track and be blessed by it, as we all rediscover what it means to have worth beyond our physical appearance. Beauty isn’t skin deep- in fact it is what is inside that counts, and Lauren has delivered a winner here that can be called upon any time we feel like we’re in a spot of bother. The rest of the album is just as inspirational- even though I’d have to say that the title track is the highest point of the album. “Doin’ Fine”, another one of my personal favourities, is a mid-tempo piano led ballad where Lauren examines and delves into her parents’ divorce and her over-the-place emotions about the whole ordeal. The fact that her mother married her father’s best friend while her father was in rehab for alcoholism did take a toll on Lauren, thus this song was like sorting out her emotions and her resentment towards her parents, and letting that whole situation go that way.

“Three” is probably one of the most personal that Lauren has written, as this piano piece focuses on the sacrifices Lauren has made to allow her to be where she is right now (similar to Mandy Moore’s “Fifteen”); while Lauren relays to us a pop song and champions love and acceptance in the happy-go-lucky “My Kinda People”. “Pretty”, the spiritual sequel to “Road Less Travelled”, dives deeper into Lauren’s insecurities about her physical appearance and her weight in particular, as she emphatically relays to us that we can ‘…be brave, be strong, keep your love light on, be the right in all the wrongs, yeah, be generous and be radiant, you are confident…’– and to me, this is one of the most underrated tracks Lauren has ever done; while the emotional, personal and melancholy melody of “Same Day Different Bottle” is lyrically about Lauren’s father’s struggle with alcohol. Sung from Lauren’s own point of view, the track chronicles the frustrations and the pain that Lauren has felt and does feel for her father and the demons that he is facing and battling; and while this song has a happy ending as Lauren’s father is now sober, the track is a timely reminder that there are families out there who’s happy ending of addictions being overcome aren’t realised yet. As happy as Lauren’s family is right now, and though this track was therapeutic for Lauren to record; “Same Day Different Bottle” reminds us all that plenty of other families need our prayer, encouragement and support, as they battle issues on a daily basis, that one day will be put to rest by Jesus! While Lauren also includes her entire 2015 EP on Road Less Travelled (minus the football-themed “History”!), providing us with some more familiarity.

Just this year, Getting Good EP released and features some of the most inspiring and encouraging tracks I’ve heard this year, as Lauren once again shows us why she is one of today’s most inspiring and encouraging artists of recent memory- in any genre! Both the piano ballads “Getting Good” and “The Other Side” released last year to listener and critic appreciation- and at the time of listening for the first time to these tracks, they had this country ‘twang’ that used to be grating to my ears, but now I’m getting more and more used to it…which is a good thing, as I reckon country music is one of the most revealing, vulnerable and honest genres of music ever as a whole. It’s hard to deny Lauren’s emotions and raw honesty impressed upon this EP as a whole, with “The Other Side” written in response to Lauren’s stepfather’s passing, while “Getting Good” earnestly relays to us the notion that we all want to be happier ‘once we do this or that, or once we achieve this or that’, with Lauren ultimately concluding that life is already good because of our relationships and the people around us, thus we don’t need to ‘get good’. From these two songs alone, I would have to say that Lauren Alaina is quickly becoming, in my mind at least, one of today’s rising stars that we all need to pay attention to.

And as for the other 4 tracks on Getting Good EP, these melodies only solidify my assertions- that Lauren’s passion and creativity will only be a positive in the future. “In My Veins” contains explosive banjo and is a high-tempo danceable track that basically details the fact that country music will always be in Lauren’s blood and veins, while “Country In Me” has Lauren singing about how a loved one or a significant other brings out the ‘country’ in her, reminding us all that her roots as a country singer and a southern girl run deep. The laid back groovy and danceable “Somebody Else’s Problem” compares a failed relationships to a dodgy car, and while it isn’t known if Lauren is singing about one of her two exes or not (or maybe both of them?), the track does open our eyes to how we want our relationships to look like and how we want them to be. Though trading in our relationship for another if we feel like it may be drastic, sometimes letting go is all we can do when things just aren’t working out. Yet it is the satire/parody/tribute/homage or whatever you want to call “Ladies In The 90’s”, that brings the biggest smile to my face, despite me not growing up listening to female 90’s singers, and not being an active fan of that type of music even now at this moment. Lauren brilliantly gives credit to all of the stars she has looked up to in one of the smartest songs I’ve heard in a long, long time- and when you guys watch the music video and listen to how many songs she references; you’ll be blown away too!

As a believer in Jesus and having come through the other side of bulimia, having watched her parents’ divorce and marry other people, as well as seeing her father through rehab; Lauren’s ‘extra-curricular’ activities outside of recording music prove to all of us that her influence runs beyond songs as she strives to be a light in this darkened world, and also encouraging us all to accept and love ourselves even if society says we are unlovable. “Barefoot and Buckwild”, one of Lauren’s singles which failed to chart and also failed to make the album Road Less Travelled, showcases Lauren’s playful and cheerful side, as she speaks about a love that makes her want to do crazy and irrational things, while “Wings Of An Angel” was written for the soundtrack of the 2019 movie Forever My Girl, delving into the concept of a man likening his significant other to an angel. Lauren also contributed to the soundtrack of the movie Breakthrough with the song “Breathe Again”, as well as guesting on a Rascal Flatts song in 2017 (Are You Happy Now?); while she also competed on Dancing With The Stars in 2019 and finished in 4th place, as well as starring in a TV movie – The Road Less Travelled on CMT in 2017. There are tons of awards that Lauren has won (see the entire list of nominations and wins here!)- way too many to list (showing us that she’s finally being recognised for her talents and her prowess as a singer and as a songwriter!); while she has also embarked on many tours [Jason Aldean (2012, 2018), Luke Bryan (2012, 2017, 2019), Martina McBride (2017), Carrie Underwood (2016), Blake Shelton (2019), as well as headlining the That Girl Was Me Tour in 2019 and 2020] and collaborated with Kane Brown on his smash hit “What If”. A couple of Christmas singles in “Grown Up Christmas List” and “O Holy Night” have also been recorded by Lauren- and hopefully a full length Christmas album is not too far away; while Lauren has also become a brand ambassador for Flight by Yuengling (a premium light beer). But all in all, in spite of her busy schedule of recording and everything else on her plate…Lauren is a very grounded individual who is due to change the world sooner rather than later. I don’t know if any of you are into country music…but you all need to listen to Lauren Alaina’s discography. All of her songs at least once, and starting with “Road Less Travelled”. This is a must, and by then I am sure you will gain more of an appreciation for country music, and for honest, authentic, and vulnerable music in general.

In this time of fear and uncertainty because of this virus… we are all cooped up inside and are all stir crazy. In the span of a matter of minutes, moments and horrifying days, weeks and months, we’ve seen COVID-19 destroy lives, and shake the core foundation of who we are as human beings. Sometimes you’re looking all over your shoulder in the midst of all of the lockdown restrictions thinking when it’s all going to be better, and then you hear the government say to be prepared for life as we know it to stay like this for 6 months at least. It’s a difficult time that we’re living in, and I guess right now the best thing to do is to try to keep to our routines and find something to encourage us during this time of pain, hardship and struggle. Lauren’s music I believe is part of that something that can and will encourage us in this season. Music in general has the power to say things that verbal words cannot, for music is I believe the universal language that can tug at and capture your soul even if you don’t want it to- permeating the very essence of who we are and revealing parts of ourselves we might not have known before. And specifically, Lauren’s music is good for each of us, as we are glimpsed very heavy issues, but also glimpsed real stories of overcoming and redemption. So what are you waiting for? Listen to “Doin’ Fine”, “Road Less Travelled”, “The Middle”, “She’s A Wildflower”, “Getting Good”, “Ladies In The 90’s”, “The Other Side”, “Dirt Road Prayer” and others- and be encouraged and have hope and trust that we will overcome all with our loved ones and our friends by our side. Jesus is with us too, and as we be a light to others, let us bring Jesus to the world also! What better way to encourage others than to tell each other true stories of survival and thriving in this life! Well done Lauren for a stellar career thus far- I can’t wait for whatever comes next!

Honestly, from a bit of a selfish standpoint, [a painful breakup is]… very helpful. When you go through things like that, it’s hard as a songwriter. As an artist you’re like, “Thank goodness we went through this!” but as a songwriter you’re like, “Oh gosh, I have to go and write about this!” Creative people in the industry constantly think about how they can turn something into a song. When there’s pain involved, it’s really hard to get that out. I just recently wrote a song about my stepdad who passed away in October and I cried the whole writing session. But then you get this really amazing song. The reward is worth the digging. Music heals, and that’s why I fell in love with it, that’s why everyone fell in love with it. If I can be a part of that, that’s amazing.

Does Lauren Alaina make the list for you all when you write your own ‘Influential Artists of the next 5-10 years’ list? Is there any song (other than “Road Less Travelled”, “Doin’ Fine”, “Getting Good”, “The Other Side”, “Pretty” and “Ladies In The 90’s”) that has impacted you on your journey through life thus far, or even your walk with God? Let us know in the comments. Till next time!

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