Good as Gold
Lindsey Stirling paved her path to superstardom by dreaming big and staying true to herself.
by Bill Donahue

In 2010, when Lindsey Stirling earned her way onto the NBC show, America’s Got Talent, she thought the exposure would change her life. She was right, though the experience altered her trajectory in a much different way than she had anticipated.
To America’s Got Talent viewers, Stirling offered something no one had seen before: a skilled, classically trained violinist who paired her musical gifts with acrobatic dance moves and hip-hop attitude. Stirling fared quite well in the competition—until she reached the quarterfinals. After she had an admittedly subpar performance, one of the judges, Piers Morgan, said her music sounded like “a bunch of rats being strangled.” He also suggested she had to change her act in order to succeed.
“I saw it as a make-or-break moment,” says Stirling. “You’re working so hard, doing what you love, sleeping in the airport, trying to make it. I thought my appearance on America’s Got Talent would change the game. It was a humiliating experience for me, and looking back on it now, not going any farther on that show was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
She licked her wounds and considered the criticism—and ultimately decided her critics were wrong. In fact, she saw staying true to herself as her only option. Since releasing her self-titled debut album in 2012, Stirling has since become a megastar, with millions of views on YouTube and similar sites, a raft of bestselling albums featuring her distinctive blend of violin-driven classical and electronic music, and sold-out performances at arenas across the nation.
“There are always going to be voices telling us what we should be and shouldn’t be,” she says. “At the end of the day, remember why you did it, and remember what makes you happy. … Over the years I’ve learned that we have control over how we feel about ourselves, and we decide who we want to be.”
Stirling is about to embark on a European tour, but she expects to be back in South Florida before too long.

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life magazine, August 2019.