By BOB McKINNEY
Lauren Daigle, who never made it past the top 24 when she tried out for American Idol three different seasons, took the Contemporary Christian Music world by storm a few years ago, signing with the Centricity Music label in Franklin.
Daigle’s unique, husky voice, which has been compared to pop singer Adele, hit a nerve with listeners to the CCM genre and her career took off.
And a funny thing happened on her way to stardom. Others, outside the Christian music world, took notice.
This is, of course, not unprecedented. Just ask Amy Grant, the group MercyMe and others.
Talent is talent and good music is good music, and artists who start in one category sometimes end up in another. Remember when Taylor Swift was a country singer?
Daigle, now in her late twenties, found her crossover experience to be a slippery slope after she appeared on Ellen, the daytime talk show hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, in October 2018.
Almost immediately Daigle was criticized by some Christians who thought she had gone too far in appearing on a show hosted by a lesbian, one who is married to another woman and is vocal about her position on gay marriage and other matters. They could not imagine there being common ground there.
Daigle answered those critics graciously but directly, cautioning against “drawing lines around which people are able to be approached and which aren’t,” while suggesting that doing so might be missing “the heart of God.”
I recently heard Daigle interviewed about the Ellen experience. She says the criticism was hurtful, but she still defends her appearance on the show and speaks highly of DeGeneres and the kindness she demonstrated to her.
One only has to go to YouTube to see the rapport between the two of them. Clearly, neither of them was faking it.
Fast forward to last weekend, when DeGeneres had an opportunity to perhaps feel a bit of what Lauren Daigle felt last year.
DeGeneres and her wife were invited by the daughter of Jerry Jones (owner of the Dallas Cowboys) to sit in the Jones family's suite at AT&T Stadium to watch the Cowboys play the Green Bay Packers.
Critics took to social media to cry foul. They questioned her judgment in sitting next to — and apparently yucking it up with — former President George W. Bush, whose political views and legislative advocacy during his presidency would obviously not jibe with those of DeGeneres.
DeGeneres not only defended her outing, but made light of it.
During her monologue on her show last Tuesday, she said when she received the invitation, she knew there would be those in the suite who had different views than hers. She would be rooting for the Packers, knowing the suite would be filled with Cowboys fans.
However, referring to the invitation from the Jones family, she said, “we went because we wanted to keep up with the Joneses.”
Addressing the criticism, DeGeneres said, “A lot of people were mad. And they did what people do when they’re mad . . . they tweet.”
Getting to the heart of the matter, she said, “Here’s the thing. I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have.”
The message from DeGeneres was she’ll be friends with who she wants to be friends with, and sit at a football game with whomever she chooses.
“When I say, ‘be kind to one another,’ I don’t only mean the people that think the same way you do. I mean be kind to everyone,” she said.
Maybe Lauren Daigle and Ellen DeGeneres have more in common than some folks might have thought.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.