Lindsey Stirling can dance circles around you while expertly playing the violin, but that unique skill was not developed without adversity.
In 2010, a 23-year-old Stirling dazzled judges en route to a quarter-final spot on season 5 of “America’s Got Talent”. Then the wheels fell off.
“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,” judge Piers Morgan said at the time.
“You need to be in a group,” Sharon Osbourne chimed in. “What you’re doing is not enough to fill a theatre in Vegas.”
Stirling remembers the nightmarish experience like it was yesterday. In fact, it is an experience she carries with her every time she meets an obstacle. The one-of-a-kind artist shares her takeaway from that 2010 experience ahead of her Wave interactive virtual concert on Thursday.
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“The most important thing I learned from my ‘America’s Got Talent’ story is that we all have an inner gut,” Stirling tells ET Canada. “Some people would call that intuition, some would call it spirituality, some would say the universe is gutting them. Whatever it is.”
“When I was on that show and I got kicked off, I was devastated. I mean humiliated. I did not want to pick up a violin again. I wished that I could erase the experience from existence.”
The scope of Stirling’s failure was not lost on her; it did however strengthen her resolve.
“I could take it for what it was when Piers Morgan said I didn’t have what it takes and it sounds like rats being strangled when I play the violin,” she explains. “I could take it as that or I could say, ‘You know what? Maybe at that moment, for them, I wasn’t good enough… but that doesn’t mean I’m not good enough forever.”
In fact, Stirling does not completely disagree with the “AGT” judges’ assessment of her performance at the time.
“Advice is for a moment,” she shares. “It’s not even who I was, it was how I performed that night. I had to add a really important word to that when they said I wasn’t good enough. Yet. I’m not good enough, yet. Or I wasn’t good enough that night. But I’m going to work my tail off.”
Stirling’s advice to others is to accept feedback but apply it in a way that serves your goals.
“It changed my life to take that advice and take it for what I need it to be. You’re not good enough, yet. You need to work harder,” she explains. “Anyone who is successful has felt liked they’ve failed before multiple times. I feel like I’ve failed countless times since that day.”
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“I look to that day on ‘AGT’ and how I felt walking off that stage any time I feel like I’m a failure,” Stirling concludes. “I remember that and think, Well, I got up from that. I can move past this. That moment made me so strong and it’s made me strong countless times since.”
These days, Stirling is turning to Wave’s digital concerts as a creative outlet. Stirling performed with the virtual technology in September and will do so again on Thursday, August 20.
“It’s been kind of hard to feel creative and do cool things and connect with fans,” Stirling says of the quarantine. “It was really exciting to have an opportunity to do something that feels high production and unique and thoughtful and intentional.”
“I was so blown away by how amazing the technology is,” she adds. “I’m in this suit with all these tracking points on it. In real time, I’m playing and dancing and watching an avatar version of myself perform live to 100,000 people. It is really cool.”
Donations to Stirling’s digital Wave concert on Thursday will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. The concert kicks off at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT. Click here to watch.