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Kayley Bishop Was Smiling on “The Voice” but Dealing with Major Marital Problems: 'I Wasn't Even Living' (Exclusive)

"I knew exactly what I needed to say to that girl in this song," the country singer tells PEOPLE of single "Hold on Honey." "I wrote it 30 minutes later"

Kayley Bishop tends to not call anyone by their real name.

"I always seem to have pet names for my people,” admits Bishop with a laugh during a recent interview with PEOPLE. "I call them ‘darling’ and ‘nugget’ and ‘honey.’ It just honestly feels like such a natural thing for me. We all kind of have our own individual jargon. I think it's just an overflow of my regard for people."

It's this regard that led The Voice season 15 finalist to touch on the tender notes now heard on her current single “Hold on Honey,” a majestic beauty that she began writing back in the fall of 2022.

“I was actually commissioned to write this song by Tyler Ward of Song House,” remembers Bishop, now 34. “They just gave me a theme to write a letter to my younger self, specifically from the ages of 19 to 23.”

That age span was especially memorable to Bishop, as it was during those exact ages that she found herself on a personal roller coaster of emotions.

“I met my ex-husband at 19 and got married at 23," explains Bishop, who was divorced in 2020 after seven years of marriage. “I knew exactly what I needed to say to that girl in this song. I wrote it 30 minutes later. It totally just fell from the sky. I really say it fell from heaven and landed on my lap."

And as much as Bishop says she was writing “Hang on Honey” for others, she now admits she was really writing it for herself. “It turned out to be kind of an anthem to that girl that I used to be,” she says quietly.

<p>Ike Everard </p> Kayley Bishop performing in Nashville on March 13, 2024

Ike Everard

Kayley Bishop performing in Nashville on March 13, 2024

Related: The Voice's Ian Flanigan Marries in Intimate Wedding at a Colorado Ranch: 'Nothing Short of Perfect' (Exclusive)

It was this anthem that Bishop began playing out on the road shortly after writing it, and every time, she was approached by people touched by its lyrical assurances.

“There's never been an audience member that wasn't shaken by the song,” says Bishop of “Hold on Honey.” “I can't tell you how many times people have approached me with tears in their eyes saying, ‘This is my song’ and ‘How did you know my life?’ And I don't know their life. That's when songwriting becomes more universal than just your own story.”

Now, premiering exclusively on PEOPLE, the music video for “Hold on Honey” expands on its importance even more, as Bishop collaborated with the Recovery Church in Nashville to tell the stories of people who have found comfort in the song while dealing with a wide range of addictions and mental health issues.

“I wasn’t necessarily looking to partner with Recovery Church, but it was almost like the closed doors led me to the one I was supposed to walk through,” says Bishop, adding that she initially had trouble finding a space to film the “Hold on Honey” music video. “It hit me that this needed to be more than just talking to the brokenhearted.”

<p>Ike Everard </p> Kayley Bishop in Nashville on March 13, 2024

Ike Everard

Kayley Bishop in Nashville on March 13, 2024

For Bishop, the song is all about giving others hope.

“It's all about empowerment,” says Bishop, who has lived in Nashville since 2013. “I want to know your story, but how can we walk together so that you can continue to walk in victory and towards health and sobriety and curating a life that God meant you to have, which is free of these bondages. You know what I mean?”

Related: The Voice Alum Jon Mullins Opens Up About Harrowing Birth of Premature Twins: 'We Were Terrified' (Exclusive)

It’s a lesson that Bishop has had to learn firsthand.

“I wasn't really living,” says Bishop of the dark days of her marriage. “I used to think, ‘Oh, look at me. I'm so good. I don't get hurt.’ And I mean, I never cried. And looking back, that was just a defense mechanism. I was denied a right to have a voice. I was denied my emotional welfare. I was told that I was wrong. I was constantly perpetuated as the problem when it was just gaslighting and narcissism and abuse.”

<p>Ike Everard </p> Kayley Bishop performing in Nashville on March 13, 2024

Ike Everard

Kayley Bishop performing in Nashville on March 13, 2024

But those days are now firmly behind her.

“The pendulum swings so far to each side now,” concludes Bishop, who plans to release a new EP later this year. “It's like I have felt the deepest pain, and I have sobbed and sobbed, and then I've also felt complete elation. I love having a rich vocabulary of emotions, and it makes life more colorful and vibrant.”

It’s an enlightenment she wishes she could have shared with that girl she once was on The Voice. “I would've said, you are more capable than you could ever imagine,” says Bishop, adding that she is currently happily single. “You're more capable of things. You are truly going to be a dream version of yourself. Just you wait four years, just wait.”

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