On Nov. 25, 2014, youth around the world had a chance to participate in a live online face-to-face chat with dancing, hip hop violinist and YouTube artist Lindsey Stirling.
Moderating the event — the Church’s second live online chat for youth (the first was with vocalist David Archuleta, Deseret News, Sept. 19, 2014) — were Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president, and Brother David L. Beck, Young Men general president.
Sister Stirling performed three musical numbers and answered questions from viewers online and in the studio audience. The event was broadcast live on youth.lds.org.
To begin the live event, Sister Stirling performed her hit song “Crystallize” which has more than 100 million views on YouTube. She was accompanied by pianist Kendra Lowe (see article on Kendra Lowe, Deseret News, Dec. 15, 2014). After her performance, she sat with Sister Oscarson and Brother Beck to answer questions submitted from youth all over the world. This face-to-face event also included video questions and featured the youth who asked the questions.
There were more than 18,000 streams across the globe for the live event. “Since the live event occurred, the archive video has received more than 90,000 views,” said Mike Madsen, product manager for the LDS youth website. “In addition to the United States, there was a noticeable interest from people in Germany, France and the United Kingdom.”
One of the first questions Sister Stirling answered was about how she got the inspiration for her musical compositions. “I draw a lot of my inspiration from my life and a lot of my religious beliefs have stemmed into my music,” she said. “I say that because every time I go into a studio I say a prayer and I ask God for inspiration to help me and be able to help the producer I’m working with.”
When she was preparing to launch her second album, Sister Stirling said she was overcome by a suffocating fear that she might fail. However, when she was listening to the first song she had written for the new album in the studio, a spiritual voice spoke to her. It said, “I didn’t bring you this far to fail.” It calmed her fears and served as a powerful witness from the Holy Ghost. Later in the video she referred to that experience as one of the strongest manifestations of the Spirit she has ever felt.
Michael Meredith from Arizona, who is not a member of the Church, posted on the youth website, “I’m 70 years old and on a personal crusade to empower families to choose to live drug free lifestyles. I was inspired at a very difficult time in my life to watch this incredible show. What a fantastic uplift I received. Thank you Lindsey for being the person you have worked so hard to become. May God continue to bless you and yours in the great experience of your lifetime.”
In explaining what she has learned from her career, Sister Stirling said, “The lesson I keep learning over and over again is that worldly pursuits, acclaim, success, beauty or whatever it is will never make you happy.”
She explained that fame is like a parasite that constantly has to be fed and not just fed the same amount. It constantly has to be fed more and more. “It’s unsustainable,” she said.
During the live broadcast, youth created memes on the fly and began posting them online even before the live stream had ended. Nicole Belanger created a meme which read, “Truly inspiring words of wisdom tonight.” And then she quoted Lindsey Stirling, “When you are happy with who you are, that’s when you’re the most beautiful.”
Kenya Leticia from Mexico wrote, “This face to face was inspiring! I feel so happy knowing that there are so many people with good standards to look up too. She is a great person and she shows that light that she talked about. I am going to keep her words in my heart and apply them so that I become a better person, thank you Lindsey! I admire you very much!”
Sister Stirling also shared many examples of overcoming adversity in her personal life. She was candid with people about her anorexia and shared with viewers that when she achieved what she thought was her perfect weight, the best grades in school and the greatest success with her talents, she was still unhappy. More so than she had ever been. Her training as a musician helped her overcome her feelings of low self worth by thinking differently.
“I remember training my brain to think positively,” said Sister Stirling. “I had to practice the same way I practice the violin and my scales and practice them slowly until the notes were right. And the same way I practice dancing and would look in the mirror and see my form. It was the exact same thing I went through to retrain my brain to think positively because I was so negative. Every time I looked in the mirror all I could see were the flaws. And I remember I would just say, ‘you’re beautiful.’ Every day I would wake up and look in the mirror and say it 20 times. Even though tears would stream down my face because I didn’t believe it and I knew it wasn’t true, it was just the process of retraining my brain.”
Malcom Sternon from Washington posted on YouTube, “Thank you so much, Lindsey, for your testimony. Your music has such a big impact on my life, so much in fact that your music helped me to return to the mission field after coming home with anxiety and depression. Your music helped me overcome the biggest challenge of my life. Thank you.”
At the conclusion of the event, Sister Stirling played her violin accompanied by Sister Lowe on the piano with Lexi Walker as a vocalist. They performed, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.” Julia Marie from Idaho posted on the LDS youth website, “That was really inspirational. I loved hearing Lindsey’s experiences. I also loved how she is setting a wonderful example for all of us. The last musical number was so spiritual. I was so touched.”
The Church solicited youth for their suggestions after the broadcast about who they would like to see as future guests. Based on Facebook comments and posts made to the LDS youth website, two groups have been highly requested: the musical group The Piano Guys and the members of the BYU sketch comedy group Studio C. “We are definitely planning to do more of these events,” said Brother Madsen. “It is important to reach out to the youth all over the world and strengthen them in their efforts to live the gospel.”
To view a recording of Lindsey Stirling’s face-to-face interview go to youth.lds.org or watch it on YouTube at youtube.com/watch?v=E8mwveU8bDU. “This is a great resource for families,” said Brother Madsen. “The video is a great idea for family home evening. The music and messages are uplifting.”