Lang tells PEOPLE, "I don't feel like I wrote it. I feel like God wrote it through me"
As the country sat on their collective couches binge watching just about anything television had to offer in 2020, one song began shining through the doldrums of the relentless pandemic.
The song was called "I'm Not Going Anywhere."
At first, it was simply a tearjerker of a song featured in a random Ascension Hospitals commercial airing in the Nashville market. But as time went on, it began to hit a nerve with many, as it spoke of the importance of the caregiver and just how they can serve as an emotional parachute of sorts to all those who are hurting.
But frankly, who the heck was singing it?
"It's so funny, because my name was printed in very tiny print at the end of the commercial," Kelly Lang, 54, tells PEOPLE about the song that she actually wrote back in 2004. "So many people Shazamed me. I mean, my Shazam numbers quadrupled. It was hilarious."
Just as soon as she begins to laugh, though, Lang suddenly turns quiet.
"I get a ton of emails saying that people were inspired by it and that my words meant something to them," the acclaimed singer/songwriter says about the song that was released on her album 11:11 back in 2007. "And I'm just like, wow. It's full circle for me. I don't feel like I wrote it. I feel like God wrote it through me. I just held the pen. I'm so grateful for that."
Indeed, the evolution of "I'm Not Going Anywhere" is nothing short of extraordinary. Fifteen years ago, Lang originally wrote the song for a friend of hers who was serving as a caregiver to her husband as he was going through some serious health issues. But just three months after writing the song, Lang found herself needed to be taken care of too, when she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer.
"He's my husband now, but at the time, we were just dating," remembers Lang of the care she lovingly received from her husband and fellow country musician T.G. Sheppard. "One day, he let himself into my condo after I was diagnosed, and it was the first time I really cried. I mean, there I was, sitting there in a terrycloth robe and just sobbing."
After nearly a year of radiation and chemotherapy, much of which coincidentally took place at Nashville's Ascension's St. Thomas Midtown hospital, Lang was deemed cancer-free — and has been ever since.
"When asked how cancer changed me, I say that sometimes, something that scary can be considered a death sentence, but I chose to look at it as my 'life sentence,'" she says. "I began to look at life more appreciatively and lived bolder, with more confidence."
In fact, this "life sentence" has caused Lang to serve as a comfort and a confidant to countless of cancer patients through the years. At the same time, she has been able to move forward with an impressive career that has included 8 studio albums and the writing of countless songs for some of country music's biggest stars, including Lorrie Morgan, Crystal Gayle and Ricky Skaggs.
Yet, in January of 2020, she felt the tide of her career beginning to turn again, when "I'm Not Going Anywhere" was featured in the Ascension Hospitals commercial.
"I was speechless the first time I saw the commercial," remembers Lang, who released her album Old Soul last September. "To see what this little song could still do? I was just blown away. When I was going through breast cancer, I promised God. I said, 'If you allow me to live, I promise to be a light for someone else."
But little did she know how bright that light would become. Because, just a few months later, Lang found herself with the rest of the world, battling a pandemic that seemed much too big to bear. Not only did her daughters, 29-year-old Payton and 25-year-old Kennedy, fight COVID themselves, but many of Lang and her husband's dearest friends ended up succumbing to the virus.
And with countless people left to battle COVID-19 alone in hospitals across the country, Ascension Hospitals made the decision to run the commercial nationwide in November of 2020, armed with a new focus on the nurses and doctors spending every passing hour providing love and support to patients unable to have their family by their side.
And once again, the inspiring song took hold, so much so that the attention it received caused Lang to consider releasing it as a single.
And that single is now out.
"I had no intention of putting it out as a single, but there was just so many people wanting to know about it," says Lang, who also created a heartwarming music video to accompany the song. "The story really hasn't changed. People are so sad right now. And the fact is that people will always need people. We just need each other now, more than ever before."