September 21, 1986 (31 years old)
Gilbert, Arizona, United States
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Lindsey Stirling (born September 21, 1986) is an American violinist, dancer, performance artist, and composer. She presents choreographed violin performances, both live and in music videos found on her eponymous YouTube channel, which she created in 2007. Stirling performs a variety of music styles, from classical to pop and rock to electronic dance music. Aside from original work, her discography contains covers of songs by other musicians and various soundtracks. Her music video "Crystallize" finished as the eighth-most watched video of 2012, and her cover version of "Radioactive" with Pentatonix won Response of the Year in the first YouTube Music Awards in 2013. Stirling achieved one million singles sold worldwide by August 2014. Stirling has been named in Forbes magazine's 30 Under 30 In Music: The Class Of 2015. Forbes notes her quarter-finalist position on America's Got Talent in 2010, a No. 2 position on the Billboard 200 for her second album Shatter Me in 2014, and her 9 million subscribers on YouTube. Stirling's eponymous debut album was a commercial success in Europe, selling 200,000 copies in Germany, winning a platinum certification; three additional certifications were given by Austria, Switzerland and Poland. The debut album was nominated for the 2014 Billboard Music Awards for Top Dance/Electronic Albums. Stirling's second album Shatter Me won the 2015 Billboard Music Awards for Top Dance/Electronic Album. As of September 30, 2017, her Lindseystomp YouTube channel exceeded 10 million subscribers and over 2 billion total views.
Stirling describes her childhood as being raised in a modest household and stated "I would not trade my humble childhood years for anything else." Due to her family's financial limitations, her parents could only afford to find a violin teacher who would give her half lessons. Although they were told by instructors that "a child isn't going to learn how to play in 15 minutes a week", her parents persisted, and at the age of five she began taking violin lessons.
Living in Gilbert, Arizona, Stirling attended Greenfield Junior High, and at age sixteen, Stirling attended Mesquite High School and joined four friends in a rock band called Stomp on Melvin. As part of her experience with the group, Stirling wrote a solo violin rock song, and her performance helped her to win the state title of Arizona's Junior Miss and claim the Spirit Award in the America's Junior Miss Finals competition. Stirling was also a member of Charley Jenkins Band for about a year.
From a young age, Stirling had a fascination for dance, and desired to take both dancing and violin lessons. In an interview with NewMediaRockstars, she said, "...ever since I was a kid, I've always wished that I could dance, but my parents said, 'You [can] choose violin or you [can] choose dance, but we can't afford both', and I chose violin. So this is kind of a fulfillment;– it's funny to say, but this is something I've always wanted to do." Stirling registered her YouTube channel on May 20, 2007, under the username lindseystomp.
2010–2013: America's Got Talent and debut studio album
In 2010, at the age of 23, Stirling was a quarter-finalist on season five of America's Got Talent, where she was described as a "hip hop violinist". She impressed the judges on America's Got Talent, not only by mixing hip-hop, pop, and classical music on the violin, but by incorporating dancing with playing the violin, which she also does on her tours and official music videos. On a live-chat, Stirling explained, "It is very unnatural to dance while playing the violin. I had to practice so hard to learn how to do it, but now it is part of my expression and it comes naturally. I have to know a song perfectly before I can even begin to move. Once I know a song really well, I can then have fun dancing." Not only in her performances, but also with her music, dancing made a huge impact: "I loved dance music so I started with that and wrote 'Transcendence', 'Electric Daisy', and 'Spontaneous Me'."
Stirling's performances were dubbed "electrifying" by the judges, and won the acclaim of the audience, but after she attempted to step up the dance level in her quarter-final performance, judge Piers Morgan told her: "You're not untalented, but you're not good enough, I don't think, to get away with flying through the air and trying to play the violin at the same time." Sharon Osbourne commented: "You need to be in a group. ... What you're doing is not enough to fill a theater in Vegas." In her blog, Stirling confided: "I was devastated at the results ... It was painful, and a bit humiliating; however, I had to relearn where it was that I drew my strength." Stirling decided to continue to embrace her unique style of performance, promoting herself on the Internet. In a 2012 interview she remarked: "A lot of people have told me along the way that my style and the music I do... is unmarketable. But the only reason I'm successful is because I have stayed true to myself."
Shortly after her performance on America's Got Talent, cinematographer Devin Graham contacted her in hopes of collaborating on a YouTube video together. They agreed to shoot a music video for her song, "Spontaneous Me". It was filmed the week of May 9, 2011. The video boosted Stirling's popularity, and she began making music videos for her YouTube channel regularly. Stirling's YouTube channel, Lindseystomp, which she created in 2007 and which is named after her first band Stomp on Melvin, is the main repository for her music videos. During 2011, the channel rapidly gained popularity and has over 1.7 billion total views and over 10 million subscribers, Stirling also created a second YouTube channel, LindseyTime, in September 2012, in which she posts videos related to her life, vlogs, behind-the-scenes content, etc.
Stirling has experimented in combining violin playing with hip hop and dubstep. Stirling's collaborations with other musicians and singers have included Shaun Barrowes ("Don't Carry It All"), Jake Bruene and Frank Sacramone ("Party Rock Anthem"), Tay Zonday ("Mama Economy"), Peter Hollens ("Skyrim", "A Thousand Years", "Game of Thrones" and "Star Wars"), Lzzy Hale ("Shatter Me"), Alisha Popat ("We Found Love"), John Allred ("Tomb"), Amiee Proal ("A Thousand Years"), Megan Nicole ("Starships"), The Piano Guys ("Mission Impossible"), Debi Johanson ("River Flows in You", "Phantom of the Opera"), Sam Tsui ("Heads Up"), Tyler Ward ("I Knew You Were Trouble", Thrift Shop"), Kurt Hugo Schneider ("Pokemón Dubstep Remix", "A Thousand Years" and "It Ain't Me), John Legend ("All of Me"), Chester See ("I Knew You Were Trouble"), and Pentatonix ("Radioactive", "Papaoutai"). She has also collaborated with the Salt Lake Pops orchestra and Alex Boye. Stirling's eponymous debut album was released on September 18, 2012 in conjunction with a North American tour that same month.
In December 2012, YouTube announced that Stirling's song, "Crystallize", was the No. 8 top-viewed video of 2012 with over 42 million views.
On June 21, 2013, Stirling received her first golden certification for her album, Lindsey Stirling, in Germany and in the next month, she earned golden certifications from Switzerland and Austria. On August 2, 2013, Billboard announced that Stirling's studio album had sold more than 158,000 copies in the United States and that she was the second best-selling artist on the Classical Crossover charts in 2013, behind Andrea Bocelli's album Passione.
2013–2015: Lindsey Stirling re-release and Shatter Me era
On April 22, 2013, it was announced that Lady Gaga's manager (Troy Carter) signed a deal with Stirling after being impressed by her rise in the media. "By looking at the numbers, automatically you could see this girl knew how to move the needle and understood YouTube was a venue to engage fans both online and offline," Carter said. Stirling, who had previously refused to work with other management companies explained her new deal with Carter: "But with Atom Factory, they were up to date on current things and trying new stuff all the time, and I felt so creatively alive when I met with them."
In June 2013, she performed at Miss Switzerland, and in July, she joined Nathan Pacheco, The Orchestra at Temple Square and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the 21,000-seat LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, UT for their annual Pioneer Day concert. Stirling also announced her first ever tour dates in Australia, South Korea and Japan. Stirling's YouTube channel reached three million subscribers on August 31 and on September 4, after almost a year of touring, she completed her first world tour with her last appearance in London. On September 12, Stirling performed at the Dreamball 2013 charity gala at Ritz Carlton in Berlin, Germany. Two weeks later, Stirling announced on her official website that she had started making her second album.
In October 2013, Stirling announced that she would take part in season three of Dance Showdown, a dance competition web series created by DanceOn in which the winner is awarded $50,000 USD. Stirling was the second of three finalists, but she did not win the fifty thousand dollars despite receiving critical acclaim on her three performances with her partner Anze Skrube. One of the three judges, Laurieann Gibson, classified her second performance as "one of the best" in Dance Showdown and the last one as the best she had ever seen.
Almost a year after its official release, Stirling's self-titled studio album was re-released on October 29, 2013, as an exclusive deluxe version featuring newly recorded versions and remixes of her best-known songs such as "Crystallize", "Elements", and "Transcendence". Target carried four bonus tracks while all other retailers had two additional tracks. Stirling sold 10,000 copies of her extended-version album in the first week of sales, which was a record for her, and her album as it peaked from No. 79 to No. 23, becoming its highest position in Billboard 200. Days before, she had performed on Conan on October 24.
On November 3, 2013, Stirling and Pentatonix's version of "Radioactive" won a YouTube Music Award in the category Response of the Year. Stirling also performed during the live-streamed event. On December 16, Stirling announced the first tour dates in Canada and U.S. on her 2014 World Tour; some pre-sales were sold out after the first day of selling.
Stirling appeared on several Billboard 2013 year-end charts; notably, No. 3 on Classical Album Artists, No. 2 on Classical Albums, and No. 3 on Dance/Electronic Albums (both for Lindsey Stirling).
At the beginning of 2014, Stirling's self-titled album hit gold on Poland, and later on in Austria. Stirling received her first RIAA gold certification on February 4 for her hit single "Crystallize". On February 26 Stirling released for the first time her debut album in France which entered in number 17 selling 4,900 copies in its first week of sales. On March 5, Stirling performed three concerts at the El Plaza Condesa in Mexico City, being her first time to do so in Latin America.
In 2014, Stirling was nominated for the Echo music award in two categories: Crossover National/International and Newcomer International, receiving the Crossover National/International award on March 28. On March 12, 2014, Stirling posted a video announcing her second studio album, Shatter Me, would be released in May. She also created a PledgeMusic account where consumers could buy her new album, signed or not, and also exclusive items, such as signed posters, personalized video and even Skype calls with Stirling herself. At the end of the first day, the signed Shatter Me CD was already sold out. On March 25, Stirling officially released her first single from Shatter Me, entitled "Beyond the Veil", along with its accompanying music video. On April 3, Stirling posted that she collaborated with Owl City for his fifth album. The song, "Beautiful Times", was released on April 8.
On April 23, 2014, Stirling released the second single of her album: "Shatter Me". The song, the album's title track, accumulated 1.3 million views its first day online. The album was released in the U.S. on April 29 and in Europe on May 2. In the U.S., the album sold 56,000 copies in its first week and reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200, becoming Stirling's biggest sales week ever. In Europe, Shatter Me was also a commercial success as it reached the Top 5 in Sweden and Germany and also peaking the first position in Austria. On May 18, Stirling assisted to the Billboard Music Awards where her debut album had been nominated in the category "Top Electronic/Dance Album". Stirling also performed her first single "Beyond the Veil" during the ceremony.
On May 13, 2014, Stirling performed in San Diego, the first show of her second world tour, which consisted of 77 shows in total, 48 in North America and 29 in Europe. This world Tour was in support of her new album Shatter Me and the crew consisted of Jason Gaviati and Drew Steen (which had been part of her First World Tour) plus the adding of two new dancers: Stephen Jones and Pter Styles.
On July 2, Billboard posted that Stirling's second studio album Shatter Me had been the third dance/electronic album with most sales in the first half of the year (119,000) only behind Daft Punk's Random Access Memories and Lady Gaga's Artpop. In the same chart, Stirling's debut studio album was at sixth place with 108,000 copies sold in the first half of 2014. On July 27 Stirling's hit single Crystallize reached 100 million views, being Stirling's first music video in doing so. Six days later, on August 2, Stirling posted on her Twitter account that she had been nominated for her first ever Teen Choice award. On August 6, Stirling came back after four years to America's Got Talent to perform as host, along with Lzzy Hale their single "Shatter Me".
In August, it was revealed that Stirling would be part of two collaborations. The first one was revealed on August 13, and was about Stirling collaborating for a second time with the group Pentatonix for their third studio album PTX, Vol. III on the song "Papaoutai", by Stromae. The second collaboration was revealed nine days later, on August 22, when it was announced Stirling had been part of a song with singer Jessie J for her upcoming album Sweet Talker. On September 29, Stirling announced she would be joining Andrea Bocelli for his UK and Ireland Tour in November 2014. On October 4, Stirling started the European leg of her second world tour by performing in Finland, on support of her album Shatter Me. On November 24, Stirling extended her tour to the year of 2015 by adding dates in North America and Oceania. That same day Stirling performed at The Today Show to promote her album by performing "Roundtable Rival". On December 5, Stirling performed at the Video Game Awards.
On the 2014 Year-End Billboard Charts, Stirling peaked the categories of Classical Albums with Shatter Me. Her second studio album also appeared tenth in the year-end charts of independent albums. Stirling had the second position in the Dance/Electronic Album Artists and fifth in the charts of independent artist and Top dance/electronic artists.
In December 2014, it was confirmed that more than 200,000 people had attended Stirling's Shatter Me Tour, more than half of them being from the European continent. On February 7, 2015, Stirling performed at the Grammy Foundation's 17th annual Legacy Concert. A few days later, Stirling announced that public television would be airing her shows from London under the name Lindsey Stirling: Live from London, starting in March.
During 2015, Stirling did 67 shows over five continents as part of The Music Box Tour. Stirling toured around North America, Europe, Asia, Oceania and South America. In February 2015, Stirling added her first shows at South America, the only continent where she had never performed before. Shows in Argentina were so successful that an additional date was added on April 16.
On March 2, it was announced that Stirling had won a YouTube Music Award among other forty-nine artists. The fifty selected artists were the ones with biggest growth in views, subscribers and engagement over the last six months. This is Stirling's second YouTube Music Award. On March 23, the 2015 YouTube Music Awards were broadcast online, with thirteen selected artists releasing original music videos. Stirling released the music video for "Take Flight". On March 26, Stirling participated in the 2015 Echo Music Awards, where she won the category of "Best Crossover Act" for the second consecutive year. Stirling also performed at the Echo Awards with artist Andreas Bourani. On April 7, the 2015 Billboard Music Awards nominees were announced and Stirling was mentioned in two categories: Top Dance/Electronic Artist and Top Dance/Electronic Album, for her album Shatter Me. Stirling won the latter category, her first Billboard Music Award. On May 4, a single from Marina Kaye'e Fearless album was released under the title Sounds Like Heaven, featuring Stirling. A day later a collaboration between Stirling and Joy Enriquez was released on iTunes.
After touring in South America, Stirling decided to make changes on her crew by adding four new female dancers: Malece Miller, Amy Yakima, Addie Byers, and Ashley Gonzales, and getting some female tour openers such as Melanie Martinez, Echosmith (Sydney Sierota), Lights, and Olivia Somerlyn. A video was published on her behind-the scenes channel on May 14 announcing the new dancers.
2015-2017: Brave Enough era
On July 1, while being interviewed by Billboard in New York, Stirling announced that when her current tour finished in August she would begin work on her third studio album: "As soon as we finish this tour, mid-August, I'm just gonna jump straight into the studio, it's pretty exciting and it's also terrifying to start thinking about a new album again. But I'm honestly so excited to see where it goes. I have a lot of ideas on directions it could go, and I'm really excited to see which way it could go. But the truth is, I don't know where it's going!"
In its July 22 issue, Variety magazine ranked Stirling eleventh on its Digital Star Ranking, which ranks the top twelve stars in the digital world. It was also estimated that Stirling's annual Ad Income was $364,000. On August 8, 2015, Stirling released her first video album under the name "Lindsey Stirling: Live from London", which included part of her Shatter Me World Tour".
In late December 2015, Stirling earned her first US Billboard Hot 100 entry with "Hallelujah" debuting at number 81 on the issue dated January 9, 2016 and peaking at number one on the Hot Christian Songs Chart, being her first single in doing so as well.
In January 2016, Stirling's autobiography was released under the name of The Only Pirate at the Party, which would later reach the tenth position at The New York Times hardcover nonfiction best-seller list. Three days later, a collaboration between Stirling and the Swedish DJ/producer Otto Knows was released under the title "Dying for You", with its official video premiering on February 1.
In June 2016, Stirling announced her new studio album Brave Enough, which was set to be released on August 19, 2016. Shortly after, she uploaded a new music video "The Arena" to her main channel. Upon its release, Brave Enough debuted at number one on the US Dance/Electronic Albums chart and number 5 on the Billboard 200, where it peaked.In August 2016, Stirling performed in the opening ceremony of The International 2016, a Dota 2 tournament which had the biggest prize pool in eSports history.
In May 2017, it was announced that YouTube Red was set to release Lindsey Stirling: Brave Enough, a documentary that follows Stirling as she embarks on a worldwide tour for her third studio album Brave Enough. The film was premiered on May 17 in Los Angeles.
2017-present: Dancing with the Stars and Warmer in the Winter era
In August, 2017, Stirling posted some Instagram Stories hinting a new album, and on September 6, it was officially announced that her new holiday album Warmer in the Winter was set to be released during the fall. The next day, Stirling announced a US Tour in support of her new album, the Warmer in the Winter Christmas Tour. The album was released on October 20, featuring Sabrina Carpenter, Becky G, Trombone Shorty and Alex Gaskarth. Four days later, a video for Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy was released.
On October 29, Stirling was rushed to the hospital after a serious rib injury. Stirling and Ballas still performed on Dancing with the Stars the following day and continued on the competition until the finale. Stirling and Ballas finished in second place.
On June 21, 2015, Stirling announced that over the course of two and a half years, she had completed an autobiography, The Only Pirate at the Party, published by Gallery Books. Co-authored by Brooke S. Passey, Stirling's sister, the book was released on January 12, 2016, and was listed at #10 on The New York Times hardcover nonfiction best-seller list for January 31, 2016.
The title for The Only Pirate at the Party owed its origin to Stirling's diagnosis of cross-dominance in the second grade, for which an eye patch was prescribed. She was uncomfortable with the treatment until she began pretending she was a pirate. Stirling became intrigued by the pirate lifestyle, and said: "Pirates don't take orders or ask permission,... They do what they want. Allow me to clarify. If your mom asks you to do the dishes, do not pull out your pirate attitude. But if someone tells you you’re not good enough, says your dreams are too lofty, or claims there is no room in showbiz for a dancing violinist — well then, by all means, pull out your eye patch, my friend, and take to the high seas."
On October 1, 2013, Stirling teamed with the non-profit Atlanta Music Project to help spread appreciation of music to children who might not otherwise have the chance. The Atlanta Music Project's mission was "to inspire social change by providing Atlanta's under-served youth the opportunity to learn and perform music in orchestras and choirs." For this, Stirling made available two limited edition Lindsey Stirling/The Power of Music shirts. The money collected from the sale of those shirts went directly to the Atlanta Music Project with the combined goal of raising enough to provide music training for 50 children.
On March 22, 2014, Stirling joined Cirque du Soleil for the second annual One Night for One Drop in Las Vegas. The non-profit organization presented the show in the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in celebration of World Water Day, a day which encourages people to conserve water resources in an effort to make clean water accessible to all.
On October 8, 2017, Stirling performed Angels We Have Heard on High at Jump Jive and Thrive, an event to celebrate and benefit cancer survivors. During the same month, Stirling recorded a video for Angels We Have Heard on High with Mastercard Masterpass dedicated to the first responders and those who have been helping with the recent fires and hurricanes.
Stirling attended Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah to study film making. She later served as a missionary in New York City for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A story she wrote about her mission was later published in the compilation Do Not Attempt in Heels: Mission Stories and Advice from Sisters Who've Been There. Stirling returned to Provo in 2009 to continue studying at BYU. She then moved back to Arizona, in December 2012, to be with her family. In August 2015, she graduated from the BYU Marriott School of Management with a Bachelor of Science degree in recreation management.
For a short time she dated film maker Devin Graham, who had attended the same university and church. The two began dating shortly after the filming of "Crystallize" and Graham moved to Utah. The two have since ended their professional and personal relationship.
Stirling has publicly spoken about her battle with anorexia. She discovered her disorder while working for a treatment center for troubled girls. Stirling said in an interview with Good Morning America that her song "Shatter Me" was "actually my story of overcoming my eating disorder". The cover art of the album is a reference to her struggle which showcases a "seemingly perfect-looking ballerina standing in the middle of a cracked glass globe". In 2013, Stirling was featured by the LDS Church in its I'm a Mormon campaign in which she spoke openly about how her faith helped in her battle during high school and college. On November 25, 2014, she performed and answered questions in a live world broadcast to LDS youth. A one-hour video recording of the event was featured on the LDS.org home page.
Touring band members
- Drew Steen – Drums, percussion (2012–present)
- Kit Nolan – Keyboards, guitars, and samples (2015–present)
- Jason Gaviati – Keyboards, samples (2012–15); Gaviati died on November 21, 2015.