RIP Christina Grimmie: An Amazing Young Voice, Silenced

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·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music
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  • Christina Grimmie
    Christina Grimmie
    American singer (1994-2016)
  • Christina Aguilera
    Christina Aguilera
    American singer, songwriter, and television personality

(photo: Reuters/Kevork Djansezian)

Tragedy has struck the Voice and music communities. Christina Grimmie, a rising pop singer and YouTube sensation who gained mainstream fame as a top three finalist on The Voice Season 6, has senselessly died at age 22, after being shot Friday night by what seemed to be a deranged “fan.”

Details of Grimmie’s shocking death are still forthcoming, but according to police, she was shot during a post-concert autograph signing/meet-and-greet at Orlando’s Plaza Live Theater. The 27-year-old suspect, now identified as Kevin James Loibl of St. Petersburg, Florida, apparently targeted Grimmie, traveling to Orlando commit the crime and somehow making it past the venue’s security screening with two guns and a knife. After Loibl fired at the singer, her brother, Marcus Grimmie, heroically tackled Loibl at the scene. The suspect then fatally shot himself. Grimmie died five hours later at an Orlando hospital.

Grimmie was an incredibly gifted vocalist. Even before her covers of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” and Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” went down in history as two of the greatest Voice performances of all time, the New Jersey-born pop diva had a promising career, touring with Selena Gomez, teaming with the Creative Artists Agency to release the 2011 EP Find Me and 2013 album With Love, and racking up literally hundreds of millions of views on YouTube. In 2011, she was the New Media Honoree at the American Music Awards, and she was later nominated at the Radio Disney Music Awards, Young Hollywood Awards, and Teen Choice Awards for being an Internet star.

When Grimmie appeared on The Voice in spring 2014, she was the presumed frontrunner all season long, and it was a shock when she placed third. On Season 6’s finale night, her coach, Adam Levine, offered to sign her to his 222 Records label right then and there. Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment label also reportedly offered her a post-Voice deal. Instead, she signed with Island for a brief time, before going independent.

It was last year, when Grimmie was promoting her latest independent single, the feisty and upbeat “Shrug,” that she visited Yahoo Music’s studios, with her aforementioned brother Marcus accompanying her on guitar. The performance above, from September 2015, was done all in one take, all acoustic, with just one guitar, one camera, and one microphone. Even with none of the bells and whistles of a major Voice production, Grimmie’s stellar vocals and naturally dazzling personality were on full, glorious display.

At the time of this visit, Grimmie’s sweet nature and bubbly charisma were also evident in her interview: She was in an especially fantastic mood, having just won another talent competition, the iHeartRadio/Macy’s Rising Star Contest, which gave her the opportunity to perform at the 2015 iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas. During her interview, when discussing how she overcame nerves when performing on The Voice (or on an iHeartRadio bill alongside the likes of Kanye West and Sam Smith), she answered, “What makes me nervous is crowds that don’t seem into it… That’s when you just have to push through and pretend everyone loves you – a lot.”

Grimmie’s comment is especially chilling now. Reality stars tend to be the most accessible celebrities, often doing meet-and-greets, crowd-sourcing their music funding, and directly engaging with fans on social media; it’s all part of the job of keeping their names and faces out there and leveraging their fanbases, once their time on television is over. The fact that Grimmie died closely surrounded by fans, at an autograph signing, makes her death even more senseless and shocking. Jeffery Austin, a finalist from The Voice Season 9 who says meet-and-greets are usually his favorite part of his own gigs, tells Yahoo Music’s Reality Rocks: “See, that’s what’s horrifying. Where do we draw the line? We’re supposed to be in constant communication with our fans, but if we communicate with certain people, do we incite them? If we ignore them, does it make it worse? It’s just nuts to me, and so sad.”

The entire music community is in mourning today. Among the many high-profile Grimmie fans expressing their grief on social media are Adam Levine, along with Before You Exit (the band that played with Grimmie Friday at the Plaza Live Theater) and various pop stars and Voice alumni and cast members.

Grimmie’s publicist, Heather Weiss, released the following statement: “Yes, it’s true. The world lost an angel last night. My friend, my client and a person who lived without greed, jealousy or anger and gave the world her heart and soul inside and out was unfairly taken from this world. I can’t understand these actions. The world was given a gift with your voice and your heart, and we are so lucky to have been graced by you for this short time and that we can keep you alive through your beautiful music. The world is at a loss without you, Christina.”

Grimmie’s longtime manager and friend, Brian Teefey (stepfather to Selena Gomez), stated: “Words cannot begin to describe the pain I am feeling. I learned this business through the eyes of a father and Christina was like a second daughter to me. ll I wanted to do was assist her in achieving her musical dreams while protecting her from the pitfalls associated with the business. I never could have imagined this horrific event being one of the pitfalls needing to be avoided. In Christina’s honor I have created a Go Fund Me page to assist her family in their time of need. As family Mother, Father, and Brother made the ultimate family sacrifice to support Christina on her musical journey. They did nothing but love her and support her as family the best they knew how, the only worry I want them to have at this point is that of recovery. Please visit www.gofundme.com/christinagrimmie to support. Grimms I love you, and miss you beyond comprehension.”