When Lindsey Stirling appeared on “America’s Got Talent” in 2010, she thought she would stun the show’s panel with her unusual concept of combining edgy violin playing with kinetic, workout-strenuous choreography.
“It was such a new idea at the time, and I definitely wasn’t a seasoned performer by any means,” the Los Angeles native says. “But it was my first tentative move of ‘OK, I’m going to do this — I’m going to be a musician!’”
But the judges saw things quite differently.
Sharon Osbourne was the nicest, recalls Stirling, who plays Berkeley this weekend, promoting her CD “Shatter Me,” with a title track (sung by Lizzy Hale) that recounts her battle with anorexia.
“She was very realistic, and she was saying, ‘It might be better if you were in a group,’ because she didn’t think I had what it took to sell out a Vegas show,” she says. “But Piers Morgan was the blatantly mean one, who told me that I sounded like drowned rats being strangled. It was absolutely crushing to get the biggest break of my life, and then be told such nasty things.”
She thought it was the end of her showbiz career. She would return to her second love, film editing, which she studied in college, and stay out of the spotlight. “I wondered if I’d ever have the courage to step on a stage again,” she says.
Gradually, she decided to prove the naysayers wrong, and that she wasn’t ready to give up. She went back to the drawing board, streamlined her ideas, and – with a filmmaking school chum named Devin Graham – made an energetic video for her song “Spontaneous Me” that she posted YouTube. Everything changed.
Her YouTube channel, Lindseystomp, has more than 6 million subscribers today, necessitating the launch of a second, more personal channel called Lindsey Time, where she discusses day-to-day life.
Her art is increasingly inventive. Her latest clip, “Roundtable Revival,” is a dusty Wild West street duel between her and a gang of ornery guitar-wielding varmints.
A few months ago, she triumphantly returned to “America’s Got Talent” to perform “Shatter Me” with Hale. In January, her autobiography, “The Only Pirate at the Party, will be published.
As a kid, when Stirling wasn’t studying dance or violin, she was filming her best friends in videos. “I still edit my own videos and storyboard them,” she says. “Video editing, costuming, dancing, violin — you’d never think these things would go together. But I basically took all my hobbies and turned them into a very random career!”
IF YOU GO
Where: Greek Theatre, 2001 Gayley Road, Berkeley
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 8
Tickets: $35 to $45
Contact: (510) 548-3010, www.apeconcerts.com
Note: Stirling also appears at 3:40 p.m. Aug. 7 on the Twin Peaks stage at Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park. America’s Got TalentGreek TheatreLindsey StirlingLizzy HaleOutside LandsRoundtable RevivalShatter Meviolin