Winning "America’s Got Talent" doesn’t make you famous.
Bianca Ryan, Neal E. Boyd, Michael Grimm, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. and Kevin Skinner all won the show, but have fallen off the radar screen.
Terry Fator won, too, but how famous can a ventriloquist really get?
But hip-hop violinist Lindsey Stirling — the Brigham Young University student who reached the quarterfinals in 2010 — may have as many fans as all those winners combined.
"I’m in a career I didn’t know existed," said the 26-year-old who performs Friday at In The Venue. Take a look at her numbers:
• In December, Stirling’s "Crystallize" was the No. 8 top-viewed video of 2012, with more than 42 million views, according to YouTube. Today, it has more than 53 million.
• Her independently released, self-titled album was released in September and quickly became the No. 1 dance/electronic album on the Billboard charts. Remarkable for a violinist.
• All combined, her videos have garnered more than 268 million views — and counting.
"She has a fresh and different type of show," said Utah country musician and record-label co-owner McKay Stevens, whose band, The Vibrant Sound, has opened for Stirling in Europe and the U.S. "She has one of those cult followings. When she plays her ‘Zelda Medley’ her video-game fans go crazy."
Paying homage to the classic Nintendo video-game series "The Legend of Zelda" demonstrates that Stirling isn’t trying to reach the string-quartet geeks — though she takes pride in her musicianship and has undoubtedly inspired many young fans to pick up the violin. She does so by blending current music elements such as dubstep with classical music, ignoring the precept that you can do only certain things with her instrument.
Being able to dance to a violin was generally unheard of in modern circles until Stirling came along. "I’ve always thought it was possible [to] transcend that obstacle," she said.
Born in Orange County, Calif., and raised in Arizona, Stirling moved to Provo in 2005 to study filmmaking at BYU. She also served a mission in New York City for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
She decided to switch majors from filmmaking to therapeutic recreation, where she only needs an internship credit to graduate. But it’s hard to fulfill those requirements when you’ve got concert dates all over the globe.
As soon as she arrived in Provo, Stirling started performing at various places and met Stevens at an open-mic show at the Provo landmark club Velour Live Music Gallery. Stevens was impressed by her musicianship and charisma and asked her to join The Vibrant Sound. She played with the band until her solo career took off. But she never forgot Stevens’ generosity.
When Stirling was planning a world tour, others tried to persuade her to bring a more established band as her opening act. But she refused, intending to pay back Stevens and The Vibrant Sound for their early faith in her.
When it came time to record her first album, she decided to record only original compositions. And that’s what she plays at her concerts. "I like to keep the show original, because it makes me feel like an artist," she said.
Stirling moved back to her parents’ home in Arizona in December. But her time in Utah — and collaborations with local musicians such as The Piano Guys, Alex Boyé and the Salt Lake Pops, which helped her rule YouTube — won’t be forgotten.
"One hundred percent, Utah helped me," she said. "There is an amazing creative community in Utah."
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