"This song is about the person who feels lonely, the person who feels defeated ... It's a song to remind people that hope is around," the singer-songwriter tells PEOPLE
Lauren Daigle
Lauren Daigle

At the start of 2020, Lauren Daigle was living her dream: she had just kicked off her first-ever arena tour and was riding high on the success of her massive, Grammy-winning 2018 album Look Up Child.

But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

"It was like whiplash," the singer-songwriter tells PEOPLE. "We were moving so fast, and things were happening at such a rapid pace, and then all of a sudden we were standing completely still. It was like, 'What just happened?'"

As the pandemic sent the U.S. into lockdown that March, Daigle, 29, was forced to cancel the remainder of her tour after just 10 shows.

"I remember in the moment feeling like, 'Okay, it's just a couple of weeks,'" she says. "We had just finished our Australia leg, and I was like, 'We're so exhausted. We'll take this as a break, and then we'll be back on the road in a couple of weeks.' To see how long a couple of weeks turned into definitely was rattling."

After a difficult year that saw many isolated, Daigle decided to release her new song "Hold On to Me" — which she started writing while on the road in 2019 — last month.

"After what everyone went through in 2020, the lyrics grew beyond when we had originally written it," she says. "So we decided to release it in 2021. This song is about the person who feels lonely, the person who feels defeated ... It's a song to remind people that hope is around."

Daigle says "Hold On to Me" was inspired, in part, by a time in her life when there "were so many changes" coming up.

"Sometimes you feel like, 'What does too far gone look like?'" she says. "And it's friends that hold you together, that wrap their arms around you and remind you that everything's going to be okay, and you're going to get through this."

"I have friends that have been with me well before I started in the music scene," she continues. "So they know me at my core. They know when I'm going through hard times or when I'm living the best life. They can see the ebbs and flows of what I have to go through, the challenges that I have to face, and the joys that I have to face. Same with my family. We are from the deep South, very Cajun. We're a unit. We have that mentality where we're doing this life all together."

Lauren Daigle
Lauren Daigle
| Credit: Ashley Wright

Along with turning to friends and family in times of need, Daigle says she also looks to the Bible.

"Spirituality is really important to me," she says. "So anytime I feel like I need someone to lean on, I go and I find passages in the Bible and say, 'Okay. They went through this. If God was there for them, then he'll probably be there for me.' I lean on God. He gives me my friends. He gives me my family. He gives me people to lean on in the worst of times and in the best of times, and that's what life's all about."

In the new music video for "Hold On to Me" released on Friday, Daigle tackles the concept that someone's life is not always what it appears to be, particularly on social media.

"While we were on a business meeting and talking about concepts, this thought crossed my mind that you never know what people are living with behind closed doors," she says.

In the video, Daigle steps behind those doors as she follows a couple building a family, witnesses a man behind bars, observes three generations of women in a hospital tackling a health crisis and watches a child stuck between their parents' volatile relationship.

"A lot of the settings are from the '50s, '60s and '70s to represent different eras of time that have passed," she says. "Then you fast forward to the current moment, which is when I'm sitting in the chair swiping on my phone. It's like, 'Look at where we've come from, and look at where we are now. Let's do our best as a society to not let this moment pass us by.'"

Over the next several months, Daigle will highlight and raise funds for several organizations that tie into the scenes depicted in the music video through The Price Fund.

"The song is all about bringing people together," she says. "So the idea was, 'How do we go one step further with that, and bring people together in a physical form and in a tangible way?'"

The scene that shows a couple building their family represents the work Daigle and The Price Fund are doing with organizations that focus on family ties. Then the next scene, which depicts a child stuck between their parents' volatile relationship, ties into the work they're doing to bring music education to kids.

"I was a child and family studies major at Louisiana State University," Daigle says. "There's so many kids that go through these really difficult times, and a lot of kids' grades dropped because of domestic violence."

"So for that scene, we're going to be partnering with this organization that supports music and education, which I really love and really care about," she continues. "For some kids, academics aren't their strong suit, but they're brilliantly creative, brilliant athletes, and things like that. So to be able to support music and education, that means a lot."

Additionally, Daigle says they'll be "working with domestic violence organizations that support the family unit, teach men how to be a part of the parenting process and teach about anger management."

The scene that shows a man behind bars ties into the work Daigle is doing with The Price Fund towards prison reform.

"I've gone into prisons several times and have had incredible encounters with some amazing people that just made a wrong choice at some point in time," Daigle says. "I'll never forget a question one of the guys asked me. He said, 'When you think about the way that the system is set up, do you believe that prison is designed for punishment or reformation?'"

"That question startled me," she continues. "This was a prisoner in San Quentin State Prison in San Francisco who's been locked away for years and years and years. It made me think. When prisons change the mindset from punishment to reformation, they see such an incredible change where people are learning different arts or IT. Then once they get out, they're getting really profound jobs. I want to help support that."

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Through the music video, Daigle ultimately hopes to help people realize "how precious the world is right before you."

"I was talking with a friend about where is original thought whenever we're constantly seeing all of these lives played out on social media?" she says. "Because of it, we don't go knock on our neighbor's door and say hello anymore. That used to be how we would actually interact with people, and now it's just like, 'Oh, I got my fix because I saw a picture.' We can sit here on our phones and ignore the stories that are happening right before our eyes, but if we stay in this way and don't actually reach out to people, we're going to be missing out on so many really special moments."

When it comes to her own social media, Daigle says she tries not to feature her family for safety reasons and limits herself to "a few minutes a day" on the apps.

"Half the time, I actually don't have [social media]," she says. "I deleted it in November, and then I added it back once we started releasing stuff for the music video, so that I can be involved. I'm already realizing I'm over it, and I've only had it a month. I can feel, coming up very soon, that I'm about to delete it again."

Daigle admits though that the benefit of social media is getting to connect with fans and hear how much her music has impacted their lives.

"That is the greatest reward," she says. "I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday, and I told him, 'Awards and all these things, they're so much fun to get to be a part of. But what is transformative is when you see tears fall down their cheeks because of what a song has meant to them or what words have meant to them in a really hard time.'"

Just Wednesday, Daigle says she met a fan while at a rental car shop who told her, "I seriously don't know how you do it, but for some reason, your words are like a story every person has gone through.'"

"This girl said, 'My heart was broken into a million pieces, and I literally didn't know if I'd be able to move on in life' because her father had passed away," Daigle recalls. "She said that listening to 'You Say' rebuilt her heart. I thought, man, that's a lyric in of itself: 'Your words rebuilt my heart.' There's something about people needing lyrics and needing a message to hold on to in the worst of times."

As Daigle puts it, "Hold On to Me" is just the start of what's to come.

"There will be more music," she says. "I'm super, super excited about it. I don't know if I'm allowed to say things, but we're going to be having some concert situations coming up in the near future with new music."