Alumni News

Band Nerd to Rock Star

RISE: Thoughts from an Inspiring Alum

Eight years after Lindsey Stirling (BS ’15) posted her first hip-hop violin performance video online, Forbes ranked her as the world’s fourth-highest-earning YouTube star of 2015. She has put out two albums and has a book deal as well as a profitable touring career. Her video “Crystallize” has more than 133 million YouTube views, and her album “Shatter Me” won the 2015 Billboard Music Award for top dance/electronic album.

“I’m in a career that doesn’t use my actual degree but [my BYU experience] has made me the person I am. What I learned at BYU helps me motivate people and influences my decisions to create uplifting content.”

“My parents loved classical music and surrounded us with music. They took us to concerts and any free entertainment they could find in Los Angeles. I began begging for lessons, not realizing that was a difficult request. My mother rented a little violin and searched until she found a teacher willing to give me a 15-minute half-lesson each week. That’s all she could afford. With all the understanding a 6-year-old can have, I knew we weren’t rich. We didn’t go to McDonald’s like the other kids. Later I learned this was because my mother was making sacrifices for me. She scrimped and found the violin money. We just got basics at the store—she wouldn’t even buy sour cream because she thought it was a luxury.”

“I was a band nerd and an orch dork. I had wonderful school experiences because of music. I was happy, and my music friends were happy, and if we were considered nerds, well, nerds run the world now.”

“I joined a rock band in high school and thought it would be great if I could tour, perform, and be in shows. I never considered the possibility of soloing and performing my own music. It just evolved naturally. I experimented, developed my own style, and made it fun.”

“YouTube changed everything for me. I posted my first video in 2007. Even though it went viral and my friends freaked out because it got hundreds of thousands of views, one video doesn’t give you a fan base. Then I was a quarter-finalist and called a ‘hip-hop violinist’ on America’s Got Talent. Some people think that was my big break, but that attention disappeared when I was kicked off. That is when I began to realize YouTube was where I could actually build a fan base. I had been told that my style and music I do was unmarketable, but I’m successful because I have stayed true to myself.”

“I try to remember to be grateful for all my amazing blessings. I had to work hard. I slept in airports and rental cars and was lonely and wasn’t making money. Now I have my own tour bus and travel with my best friends: my crew and my band. I get to plan amazing videos. The Lord pushes you as far as He can but won’t push you beyond your capabilities. Even when it was so tough, I always had a sense that something good was waiting on the other side.”

More From This Issue

Browse the complete Winter 2016 Issue »