The delicate ballad faces the issue of suicide, and how God can use caring friends to intervene in a troubled life.
The artist said she started writing the song two years ago after a conversation with a friend.
"He shared his story about how he had given up on life and was going to end things," recalled Kali, 24. "And as he was about to do it, three different friends texted him asking how he was doing and felt that they needed to check in with him.
"He didn't do it (suicide) because of those people reaching out to him."
She wrote a chorus and put it the idea on the shelf temporarily until another conversation on the topic brought it back to the forefront.
"I realized that if I went back and finished (the song), I could have it in time for National Suicide Prevention Month in September."
"If I Hadn't Met You" debuted Sept. 1st.
The video version, deftly using a light and darkness metaphor, reinforces the positive results of a persistent and caring friend. By mid-month it had more than 500 views.
ENCOURAGED BY THE REACTION
"I've had some friends reach out to me – whom I haven't talked to in years – who say that it really moved them," reported Kali, whose has a music degree from Grace Bible College.
"Lots of people have seen it and I imagine it has helped some of them. I may never know all the positive that will come from it."
Working with a video production team, the first thought was to make a more literal portrayal squarely on suicide. But Kali said they selected instead a more general approach to connect with a larger group of people including those touched by depression or other mental illness.
"There are really two meanings to the song," she explained. "The fact that a friend can reach out to help another person is one. But from a faith perspective, it's the life that we can find in the truth – the truth brings life."
The video was filmed at the Harris Building in downtown Grand Rapids, an art and technology hub and also an Art Prize venue.
Kali avoided lyrics that would make the song "obviously" Christian, not wanting to exclude anyone who didn't happen to share her worldview.
"The point of the song is not to preach at people, but just to give people hope. That's what I'm here to do."
Kali started piano lessons in first grade and continued right into high school. After a year of study at Grace Bible College she changed her major to music.
"I love songwriting and am passionate about it," said Kali, who teaches piano. "Ultimately I feel called to serve through music somehow."
She currently leads worship for a youth group and is in a training program in worship leadership at her church, Ada Bible.
Kali's father is musical in his own right – singer-songwriter and recording artist Perry LaHaie, who is also the morning co-host at Moody Radio West Michigan, (89.3FM). He was not "hands on" with his daughter's musical project, but definitely was an encouraging cheerleader.
"Kali has exceptional gifts in music but more importantly God has set her apart to be a voice to her generation," said LaHaie.
The developing music artist said she's working on another song. "It's quite different," she hinted. "Not really issue-oriented, but it talks about truth found in the Bible."
On her YouTube channel Kali has cover versions of a number of different songs. But in addition to the concept video for "If I Hadn't Met You," she has posted a talking session about suicide and about her song. Watch it online.
The song is available on Spotify, iTunes and other digital music outlets.