Dancing violinist Lindsey Stirling loved to perform. The only problem was she hadn't actually had the chance to do it in front of many people. If she was going to break through her fear, there was only one way to accomplish it. Stirling went to a random apartment complex, knocked on doors and asked whoever answered if she could play a song for them. Luckily for her, no one ever turned her away.
"I always heard if you can play in front of a small crowd, you can play in front of a big crowd. That was 100 percent true," she says. "If I can perform in front of one guy in his apartment, getting up on a stage wasn't a big deal. I actually got a Facebook message not long ago from a guy who said, 'You danced around in my living room and it was the most awkward thing. You've come a long way.'"
Those embarrassing moments prepared Stirling for a run on America's Got Talent in 2010, where she was a quarter-finalist. Since then, she's continued to work hard to make a name for herself without the Hollywood spotlight. Her YouTube channel has nearly 5 million subscribers and more than 600 million views. With her current headlining tour, which stops at the Fillmore on June 27, it looks like Stirling is doing just fine.
Her second studio album, Shatter Me, which was released in May, features more of Stirling's violin work played over electronic music backdrops, such as dubstep, fusing together pop, classical and EDM. It's her live performances that have gained the most attention as Stirling dances and jumps around a stage while playing the violin. She's not only creating a unique way to combine her loves of dance and violin, but also changing the perception of the classical instrument.
Stirling first combined the two when, at age 18, she participated in the talent competition portion of a scholarship program. While there were other dancers and violin players, she wanted to make sure the audience was smiling. She came up with a rock melody and styled her hair in a crazy fashion to help her stand out. "I wanted to be different," she says. "The rest is history."
She says it was extremely difficult to combine the two elements into a performance, but she eventually trained her brain to be able to do it in a more effortless fashion.
"When I get determined to do something, or if someone tells me it's impossible, I'm going to do it," Stirling says. "Once I got on stage and did it in front of an audience, it was amazing and I knew I wanted to make it my life. I didn't set out to reinvent a classical instrument. I just wanted to make it fun and something I enjoy and everything else fell into place."
For her current tour, she has two dancers joining her on stage to add to the choreography of each performance. She's also added costume changes and more lighting in order to create more of a show.
When she was on America's Got Talent, Piers Morgan told Stirling, "You're not untalented, but you're not good enough to get away with flying through the air and trying to play the violin at the same time."
Now, having gone from living rooms to stages around the world, does she feel confident about what she's doing? "I'm happy with where I am and getting to play music," Stirling says. "I've felt great for the past couple years, but it was icing on the cake when, a couple weeks ago, [Morgan] tweeted that I proved him wrong. Yes! He's aware."