She may only be 22 years old, but Lauren Alaina is already an artist who has weathered years of professional failures and personal hardships. The country singer, of Rossville, Georgia, has pushed through it all to become a classic American comeback, with her No. 1 single, “The Road Less Traveled.”
Alaina received a huge break when she made it through the audition process on the 10th season of “American Idol” in 2011. Her talent nearly brought her the crown of victory. Even though she didn’t win the singing competition, she still managed to be the runner-up — and many artists have found success just from participating in the program, such as best-selling artist Chris Daughtry, who only managed to finish fourth in his “Idol” season.
The success and attention didn’t go the way Alaina may have expected, though. With the support of the label Mercury, she released single after single, none of which sparked much interest from the public.
Three songs on her debut album, released only six months after her “Idol” season wrapped, couldn’t crack the Top 25 on radio charts. Two singles after that failed as well.
“You’re excited — and then your singles don’t work and then things don’t happen the way you think they’re going to,” Alaina told radio host Bobby Bones on his podcast, about the transition from “Idol” royalty back to struggling artist. “It was the best thing that ever happened to me, losing those singles and realizing I’m actually not important.”
Alaina added, “I was not ready as a 16-year-old girl for what I have now.”
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The success she has now comes in the form of a “Road Less Traveled.” Over the weekend, Alaina posted an emotional Facebook video, in which she tearfully celebrated the fact that she had finally released a successful song — “The Road Less Traveled” had topped country radio charts.
“I just got a call from my label that ‘Road Less Traveled’ — I can’t even say it,” she said, held back by tears. “I just got a call from my label that said ‘Road Less Traveled’ is the No. 1 song in the country.”
Through her self-described “ugly crying,” Alaina emotionally thanked fans who had helped in her success and supported her through professionally hard times. “I’m just so humbled and thankful and proud of all of us, because we’ve all gotten me here, and you guys have never given up on me. It took us six years, but we finally did it.”
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To watch the video is to witness the weight of hardship, dedication and perseverance as it’s taken off the shoulders of an artist who struggled and committed herself to success. With that success finally here — “Road Less Traveled” is still on the country music charts, currently No. 12, according to Billboard — Alaina has shown herself to be an artist who is humble and thankful to fans and to her experience.
All of this didn’t just come with professional difficulties, either. While struggling to live up to her “Idol” fame, Alaina faced personal obstacles, which she injected into her songs. She’s suffered from bulimia, received vocal-cord surgery, which stalled her music progress temporarily, her parents divorced, her mother married her father’s best friend, and her father went through rehab.
None of it could stand in the way of what she was determined to accomplish. It is likely those personal struggles combined with professional setbacks that culminated in the personal and empowering “Road Less Traveled.”
The lyrics read as if they are from a person fresh out of a storm passing along what she’s learned through the years: “If you trust your rebel heart, ride it into battle. Don’t be afraid, take the road less traveled. Wear out your boots and kick up the gravel. Don’t be afraid, take the road less traveled.”