The 26-year old gained fame three years ago as a quarter-finalist on the fifth season of America’s Got Talent. Hosts Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne were impressed with the whirling wunderkind, but stuffy British judge Piers Morgan told Stirling she “wasn’t good enough to get away with flying through the air and trying to play the violin at the same time.”
Undeterred, Stirling recorded her first full-length CD (released September 2012). The eponymous album features twelve magical fiddle-fueled cuts, three of which appeared on an earlier EP (“Song of the Caged Bird,” “Transcendence,” “Spontaneous Me”) and three as digital singles (“Electric Daisy Violin,” “Crystallize,” “Shadows”).
Stirling was already a busy bee before her television appearance. The Orange County, California native studied violin for eight years while living in Gilbert, Arizona. Her first band, Stomp on Melvin, produced an album (which is still available at www.cdbaby.com/cd/StompOnMelvin). Then she majored in therapeutic recreation at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and began uploading videos of herself reinterpreting popular hits (“Party Rock”) and movie themes (“Lord of the Rings”). Incorporating into her violin performances bits of ballet from her childhood and modern dance steps from old Michael Jackson clips, Stirling became a unique, one-woman entertainment phenomenon.
Her YouTube channel, lindseystomp, has over 1.7 million subscribers—most of whom can’t get enough of Lindsey’s bubbly, effervescent demeanor, smooth Stradivarius sound, and feverish choreography. Sterling’s as limber as Mystique—the villainous contortionist from the X-Men films—and can kick a one-socked leg well above her pigtails or arch herself backwards while bowing complicated arpeggios.
Watch “Electric Daisy Violin” here:
America’s Got Talent dubbed her the “hip-hop violinist”—but it’s something of a misnomer. While Stirling has played to hip-hop tracks and mixes break dancing into her kinetic live shows, her original album cuts feature clever fiddle melodies (some sweet, some sad) over beats, bass lines, and electronic samples more common to the dub-step and house genres. “Moon-walking violist,” maybe. But hip-hop detractors and concerned parents can rest easy; there’s no rapping or gangsta dialogue here (indeed, the only vocals on the new disc are Lindsey’s cooing ohs and ahs—and the title of finale “Stars Align,” which is sung during the outro).
If you like the fiddle-stylings of Celtic groups like Gaelic Storm and Flogging Molly, or Country / bluegrass bands like Dixie Chicks and Steep Canyon Rangers, chances are you’ll dig this, too.
And don’t let Stirling’s album cover photo fool you, either. The sleeve may show a stern-faced Lindsey pouting on a park bench like a librarian fretting over late fees—but it’s completely in jest. Any one of the video links here will give a better idea of just how upbeat and non-stop Stirling usually is. She must be exhausted after all that dancing…but we can’t picture this hyperactive musical dervish resting anywhere long enough to fall asleep.
Lindsey Stirling plays House of Blues Cleveland with The Vibrant Sound on March 18th. Tickets are $16.00 or $19.00 day of show. VIP meet-and-greet packages are available through the artist’s website.
Watch “Spontaneous Me” here:
Watch “Crystallize” here: