Lindsey Stirling: From Devastation to Disney Princess
Truth be known, when I was asked to write this article, I didn’t know who Lindsey Stirling was. Apparently I live under a rock, because in the music world, she is an up-and-coming violinist/ballerina that can “work the crowd into a frenzy by dropping the beat like a rave fairy.”
I liked her music, but it wasn’t until I watched her videos on YouTube that I truly understood her unique talents. Her videos are wild flights of fancy where she melds music, dance and fantasy. It’s what hooked me and apparently millions of her fans who she fondly refers to as Stirlingites.
From humble beginnings, Lindsey at six years old begged her parents for two things: violin lessons and dance lessons. Not being able to give her both, she was told to choose between the two. She chose the violin. They were able to find a violin teacher who was willing to give half lessons, although they were told by instructors, "a child isn't going to learn how to play ... in 15 minutes a week". Oh, how wrong they were.
She never did have the privilege of taking dance lessons, but that didn’t slow her down one bit these past two decades.
At age sixteen, Lindsey began losing interest in the violin. She was tired of being told what to play and how to play it. So, she joined a rock band with four friends, called Stomp on Melvin. By experimenting with different styles of music and blending her playing with dance elements, she learned to love the violin again.
In 2005, Lindsey wrote and performed a solo violin rock song in the Arizona’s Junior Miss competition. She won the title and then went on to win the Spirit Award in the America’s Junior Miss Finals Competition.
After high school, Lindsey attended Brigham Young University’s (BYU) film school with hopes of becoming a director. She took a break from school from 2008 to 2009 to perform missionary work in New York City (NYC) for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Later, she wrote a story about her experience that was included in the compilation book entitled: Do Not Attempt in Heels: Mission Stories and Advice from Sisters Who've Been There.
When she returned from NYC, she resumed her studies and changed her major. As of now, she is only missing an internship credit to complete her degree in therapeutic recreation. During this time, she also volunteered her time to work in rehabilitation centers with troubled teens.
In 2007 during college, she uploaded her first viral video, a violin cover and dance to Pump It by The Black-Eyed Peas. It was this video that attracted the attention of the producers of the television show, America’s Got Talent. They invited her to tryouts in early 2010.
Due to contractual obligations with the show, from January to August 2010 Lindsey led a secret double life. She still attended her classes at BYU and worked her day job while making excuses to friends and coworkers for her frequent absences in her real life. All the while, she was traveling back and forth to auditions for America’s Got Talent.
Lindsey did very well with the judges in her audition and was considered a favorite in the Las Vegas round of the competition. It was in Las Vegas that she was categorized as a dance act instead of a musician, but she was excited to be sent on to the Hollywood round.
August 4, 2010 was Lindsey's quarterfinals performance in Hollywood that consisted of dancing and playing the violin to Break Your Heart and Tik Tok. Piers Morgan buzzed her act, and she received harsh criticism from all three of the judges. The next phase was America's Vote. She did not receive enough votes to finish in fifth place, so she was eliminated from the competition.
The following week, she wrote in her blog about the experience,
“Well, I admit that the things that were said to me on live, national TV were extremely hurtful. I was devastated at the results and it was almost surreal that something that had nearly consumed my life for so long was instantaneously gone. Yes it was painful, and a bit humiliating; however, I had to relearn where it was that I drew my strength. Was it from this faulty, fake world of glitz and glam, big hair, make-up and celebrity judges or was it from things that are real? Through heartfelt prayer I reminded myself that I am a daughter of god and that he was proud of me. After publicly being ripped apart, I left the theater and I was embraced by the people that love me. My family and friends had come quite a ways to see me and they were so proud of me. That is what is really important. These people know and love me for who I am and for the love I’ve given them.
Three weeks later, she blogged, “I am really excited to announce that I am taking a jump into the dark and I am going to try out the life of a musician.” With performances booked on her calendar, she took time off of school and went in search of her dreams.
Being voted off America’s Got Talent turned out to be what she considers the best thing that’s ever happened. The rejection simply strengthened her resolve to be herself. The same reasons she was told that she wouldn’t succeed are the reasons people travel hundreds of miles to see her, because she’s different.
Shortly after her performance on America's Got Talent, she was contacted by cinematographer Devin Graham, who proposed that they make a YouTube video together. She also met with Ryan Wyler, the first manager who was willing to invest time into her talents, as well as Marco G, her first producer.
The start of the collaboration with Graham was the video Spontaneous Me. They made several more videos together for her YouTube channel, LindseyStomp, which she created in 2007. Currently, this site has over 5.5 million subscribers and almost 774 million viewers. In 2012 she created a second YouTube channel, LindseyTime, where she posts vlogs (video blogs) and behind-the-scenes content.
Her debut album, the self-titled, Lindsey Stirling, was first released September 2012 in conjunction with her North American tour that same month. In December 2012, her song Crystallize was the number 8 top-viewed video of the year on YouTube with over 42 million views.
Lindsey started her first world tour in January, 2013. In June, 2013 she received her first golden certification for her self-titled album in Germany, followed shortly after in Switzerland and Austria. Her first album was re-released October 2013. That same month she also launched a 60-day fundraiser benefiting the Atlanta Music Project. In November 2013, her cover version of Radioactive that she made with Pentatonix won Response of the Year in the first YouTube Music Awards.
On March 12, 2014, Lindsey posted a video to announce her second album, Shatter Me, would be released in May. On March 22nd Lindsey joined Cirque du Soleil for the second annual One Night for One Drop in Las Vegas. On March 25th she officially released her first single, Beyond the Veil, from Shatter Me. In May 2014, her album Shatter Me peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200. That same month Lindsey started on her second world tour.
In July 2014 in an interview with Good Morning America, Lindsey explained that her song, Shatter Me was actually the story about overcoming her eating disorder. The album’s cover art is a reference to her struggle with anorexia and shows a seemingly perfect-looking ballerina standing in the middle of a cracked glass globe.
In August 2014, Lindsey made a triumphant return as host on America’s Got Talent 2014 and performed her song Shatter Me with Lzzy Hale.
In September 2014, during an interview with Violinist.com, Lindsey commented on her recent return to violin lessons at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. She said that her decision to restart lessons after 10 years makes her feel like she was starting all over again, but that it was a good thing to get back to the basics.
In October 2014 Lindsey joined the Italian tenor, Andrea Bocelli, on his UK and Ireland tours.
Lindsey is well known for taking requests for her music videos and has recorded her unique versions of the theme songs from The Phantom of the Opera, Game of Thrones and Star Wars. She has also recorded music from video games, including The Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, Skyrim and Assassin's Creed.
A gamer herself, in Lindsey’s interview with GamerHub.TV, she reminisced about playing her favorite Mario Brothers games growing up and how her parents only allowed her and her sisters to play video games an hour a day.
When asked where she sees herself in the future, Lindsey’s reply was,
“That is a very difficult question to answer. Right now I’m taking my life one year at a time. I think it is the goal of every popular musician to become one of those unforgettable artists… the ones like The Beatles or Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston or Elvis Presley. Their music lives on, long after they are gone. But regardless of how my career turns out, my ultimate goal is to stay focused on the most important things, remember who I am and why I am doing this, and one day have a cute little family.
Having recently signed with Disney’s Maker Studio, Lindsey quipped "With this partnership, I am one step closer to becoming a Disney princess!"
Hmmm, Princess Lindsey...
About the Author
Aoibheann (pronounced Ae-veen) is an Irish American Artist.
As a Photographer and Writer her work has been featured in Gaiscoich Magazine, Biker Magazine, Sun City Bikers, Ruidoso News, The Ruidoso Free Press, KEDU Radio, the Society for Creative Anachronism, BetterPhoto.com, Juicy Skin Calendar, as well as various other publications for the U.S. military and her colleges.
When she’s not traveling the world and taking pictures, you can find her interviewing interesting people, writing whimsical stories and articles, gaming in GW2, playing guitar, reading her favorite books, or out dancing in the rain.
Owner of Rogue Photos, you can view her photography work at http://roguephotos.virb.com/