Lindsey Stirling isn’t ashamed to admit it — she reads the comments about her via a multitude of social media channels.
There’s the uplifting content that validates her mission to positively impact her fans and the world — but then there are the trolls that will shame her musical talents, her battle with anorexia earlier in her life — one person messaging “she claims to have been anorexic but she’s too fat for that — and her overall looks.
As a public figure, she knows it comes with the territory, taking constant reflection to internalize the sometimes disgusting words and flip them into an opportunity to help the rest of the world that deals with social-media shaming, a byproduct of keyboard warriors.
“It’s not just us as artists that deal with it, this is something people have been dealing with for all time,” Ms. Stirling told the News-Press, only days before her “Warmer in the Winter Christmas Tour” comes to the Arlington Theatre on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
“The opinions of other people, worried about what other people think. So many times we let the voices and opinions control us, sometimes even what we think other people are thinking. All of these opinions projected onto us. It’s important that we recognize this, to make sure you know that’s not who you are. ”
She has brought her mission to own the negativity to a new collaboration with Switchfoot on a song called “Voices,” with an uber-powerful music video that hit YouTube on Nov. 5. and is already sitting at nearly a half-million views, with 40,000 likes.
In the video, Ms. Stirling is shown staring into the camera with messages written on her face and arms:
“I’m not enough.”
Halfway through the video, the focus turns from the hurtful messaging to erasing the words and showcasing phrases such as:
“I can do this.”
“I am enough.”
“Love is the movement.”
Ms. Stirling had been sitting on this video idea for awhile, waiting for the right song to unleash it. When Switchfoot extended the olive branch to collaborate, the idea finally came to light.
“This was an idea I’ve had in my back pocket for a long time,” Ms. Stirling said. ”A lot of times I’ll get ideas when I’m brainstorming for music videos, but sometimes the idea isn’t quite right for the song. I was really excited to finally get to make it.
“It shows that we do have the power to take control back.”
Ms. Stirling almost didn’t make it to nearly 3 billion video views on YouTube, she was told consistently that her approach to art wasn’t marketable, that exuberantly playing the violin while also singing and dancing wasn’t something that could go mainstream.
But, she refused to take that feedback, committed to believing in herself and the way she wanted to approach her art.
It did almost end before it started, admitting that her stint on the eighth season of America’s Got Talent “nearly broke her.”
“Unless you’ve actually done reality TV, you don’t know the pressure that it comes with,” Ms. Stirling said. “It was my first experience professionally, and I didn’t know if I could make it.”
After advancing to the quarterfinals, her performance was met with harsh words from a pair of AGT judges, with Piers Morgan saying:
“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.”
And Sharon Osbourne added, “You need to be in a group. … What you’re doing is not enough to fill a theater in Vegas.”
Admittedly shook, she faced a choice: Let someone else dictate what she did, or follow her heart.
Thankfully for the arts world, her heart won out.
The millions that watched her on AGT became the support system she needed to move her career forward.
In 2012, her music video “Crystallize” was the eighth-most watched video on YouTube, with a collaboration with Pentatonix in 2013 on “Radioactive” actually garnering Ms. Stirling a YouTube Music Award in 2013.
In 2015, Forbes Magazine named her 30 Under 30 in Music — a product of not only her success on AGT, but also her No. 2 position on the Billboard charts for her second album, “Shatter Me,” as well as her then 11 million followers on YouTube (she’s now in excess of 12.2 million).
Ms. Stirling also dipped her toes back into the world of reality television, finishing second on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2017 — a different experience for Ms. Stirling because she “was already a star, so it wasn’t about proving myself, it was about learning to dance.”
Despite the success over what is now nearly a decade in the spotlight, Ms. Stirling is still very humbled by it all.
“I could have never have imagined having almost 3 billion views on YouTube,” Ms. Stirling. “There were no fans at the beginning, I didn’t have a team around me. I’m so thankful that fans accepted me for my art and that it has grown into this.”
And “this” is now headlining tours around the world — “I still can’t believe thousands of people show up for my shows every night. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m grateful,” she said — and she is currently in rehearsals for the Christmas tour that will both make you cheer and tear.
“It’s so festive, it’s so fun,” Ms. Stirling said. “Even as we are wrapping up these rehearsals, going over them for hours, we are all smiling. There’s so much variety, we are doing everything from ballroom to ballet to contemporary. My goal is that everyone will laugh, and at moments, maybe people are brought to tears. There will be a really wide range of emotions to experience as we all get filled with Christmas spirit.”
Considering the intensity of Ms. Stirling’s performances — “my shows are a workout,” she said — there is a purpose to that energy, one that is always on the forefront of her mind.
“Ever night, the dancers, the band, we say a prayer together. Every night I pray that the audience will feel loved,” Ms. Stirling said.
“My greatest hope is that the art that I create reminds people that they are enough, that they are loved. That’s ultimately the most important thing and it’s the thing that we all forget the most.”