Christina Victoria Grimmie (March 12, 1994 – June 10, 2016) was an American singer, songwriter, musician and YouTuber known for her participation in the NBC singing competition The Voice and for her covers of hit songs by contemporary pop musicians. In June 2011, she released her debut EP, Find Me. Her studio album With Love was released in 2013. A second EP, Side A, was released in 2016.
In 2014, Grimmie took part in season 6 of The Voice and finished in third place. Adam Levine, her coach on the show, announced in the finale that regardless of the results he would sign her to his label 222 Records. Lil Wayne also offered to sign her to his label, Young Money Entertainment. She was signed with Island Records for a short time before being dropped. She took an acting role in 2016, making her first and only motion picture appearance in The Matchbreaker.
On June 10, 2016, Grimmie died of gunshot wounds inflicted in a targeted attack that followed her concert performance in Orlando, Florida. Her attacker shot and killed himself moments later.
Christina Grimmie was born to Tina and Albert Grimmie. Her mother worked as a receptionist until she was diagnosed with breast cancer, while her father worked at Verizon Communications as of 2014. Her older brother Marcus served as Christina's road manager during her performances. She was of Italian and Romanian descent. Grimmie grew up in Marlton, New Jersey, where she attended Bethel Baptist Christian School, Marlton Middle School, and Cherokee High School. Grimmie identified as a Christian; her family attended Fellowship Alliance Chapel in Medford before they moved to Los Angeles. Grimmie was homeschooled for her junior year in 2010.
Her father noticed Grimmie's talent for singing when she was six years old, and she started playing the piano at age ten. Despite having received piano lessons, Grimmie said she played by ear.
Grimmie was an animal rights activist and participated in fundraising events for the Humane Society of the United States. The Christina Grimmie Animal Medical Fund was created in her honor.
2009–2010: YouTube recognition and discovery
Grimmie began posting videos to her YouTube channel in 2009, at age 15. The first video she uploaded was a cover of Hannah Montana's "Don't Wanna Be Torn". She first earned recognition for her cover of Miley Cyrus's "Party in the U.S.A." in August 2009. Her 2010 cover with fellow YouTuber Sam Tsui of Nelly's "Just a Dream" has tallied more than 135 million views. In 2011, she placed No. 2 in the MyYouTube competition, behind Selena Gomez. Her channel had more than 375 million views and over two million subscribers as of April 2013. As her popularity grew on YouTube, Grimmie was discovered by Gomez's mother, Mandy Teefey; Teefey and her husband Brian soon became Grimmie's managers.
2011: Find Me
Grimmie performed in the UNICEF charity concert, and also performed backup vocals for Selena Gomez & the Scene; she appeared on the first DigiTour in 2011, which was created specifically for YouTube artists. Gomez became her mentor. Grimmie appeared on the Billboard Social 50; she also opened for Selena Gomez & the Scene, Allstar Weekend and the Jonas Brothers during the Concert of Hope. She toured for six weeks with Selena Gomez & the Scene opening for them in the We Own the Night Tour.
She released an EP entitled Find Me, on June 14, 2011. Her debut single "Advice" was released to Radio Disney on June 11, with the music video, directed by Sean Babas, being released on July 19 on her YouTube channel. She appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show with fellow YouTuber Tyler Ward, performing a cover to Lil Wayne's "How to Love"; the episode aired on October 10, 2011. On November 20, 2011, Grimmie performed at the 39th American Music Awards of 2011 Pre-show alongside Taio Cruz to a special rendition of "Higher". She also performed her song "Not Fragile" at the American Music Awards of 2011 Coca-Cola Red Carpet Show along with Selena Gomez & the Scene. She and the band appeared together in a commercial for Xbox's Kinect. Grimmie was the special musical guest performing her hit song "Advice" on Disney Channel's So Random!, which premiered on December 11, 2011.
2012–2013: With Love
In January 2012, Grimmie moved to Los Angeles to pursue her singing career; she was signed in April to Creative Artists Agency. On Disney.com, she starred in the web show Power Up: with Christina Grimmie, which ran from March 29, 2012, until June 5, 2012. She also revealed that she would be working with a new band, Rising Tide, a teen group originally from her hometown area in New Jersey. She then opened for Gomez during the North American leg of her Stars Dance Tour, performing songs from her second album With Love, which was released on August 6, 2013. On October 3, her music video for "Tell My Mama" was given its exclusive premiere on Billboard.com. Grimmie said the video is "about a guy that I start liking in school, and he's sort of a dangerous kid, and I am the type of girl that tells my mom about everything."
2014: The Voice
Grimmie auditioned for season 6 of NBC's singing competition, The Voice, as revealed on her Facebook page. During the Blind Auditions, she performed Miley Cyrus' hit song "Wrecking Ball". All four coaches, Adam Levine, Usher, Shakira, and Blake Shelton, turned their chairs for her, and she opted for Adam Levine. She finished in 3rd place, behind winner Josh Kaufman and runner-up Jake Worthington.
- – Studio version of performance reached the top 10 on iTunes
|Blind audition||"Wrecking Ball"||Miley Cyrus||February 24, 2014||1.1||All four chairs turned |
Joined Team Adam
|Battles, Round 1||"I Knew You Were Trouble" (vs. Joshua Howard)||Taylor Swift||March 25, 2014||11.4||Saved by coach|
|Battles, Round 2||"Counting Stars" (vs. Sam Behymer)||OneRepublic||March 31, 2014||12.4||Saved by coach|
|Playoffs||"I Won't Give Up"||Jason Mraz||April 14, 2014||18.10||Saved by coach|
|Live Top 12||"Dark Horse"||Katy Perry||April 21, 2014||20.6||Saved by Public Vote|
|Live Top 10||"Hold On, We're Going Home"||Drake feat. Majid Jordan||April 28, 2014||22.5||Saved by Public Vote|
|Live Top 8 (Quarterfinals)||"How to Love"||Lil Wayne||May 5, 2014||24.8||Saved by Public Vote|
|Live Top 5 (Semifinals)||"Hide and Seek"||Imogen Heap||May 12, 2014||26.5||Saved by Twitter Instant Save |
|Live finale||"Wrecking Ball"||Miley Cyrus||May 19, 2014||28.1||Third place|
|"Somebody That I Used to Know" (with Adam Levine)||Gotye feat. Kimbra||28.5|
|"Can't Help Falling in Love"||Elvis Presley||28.8|
2014–2016: Post-The Voice; major label debut
During the competition, Grimmie's coach Adam expressed his desire to sign her to his record label, 222 Records; Lil Wayne also showed interest in signing her to Young Money Entertainment. She ultimately chose to sign with Island Records. She toured with previous contestants of The Voice including season 5 winner Tessanne Chin, runner-up Jacquie Lee, Will Champlin, season 1 runner-up Dia Frampton, season 6 winner Josh Kaufman, runner-up Jake Worthington, and fellow season 6 contestants Kristen Merlin and Jake Barker. The Voice Summer tour started on June 21, 2014, in San Antonio, Texas. She was writing and recording music for her sophomore album, her third major release, and first release since being signed to a label. The lead single was expected to be released in July 2014, with the album following later in the year. Grimmie announced via Facebook that filming for the lyric video for the single started on July 6, 2014. On July 11, she announced that her new single would be called "Must Be Love". On July 15, 2014, she announced via a live stream that the song would be released on July 31. "Must Be Love" was produced by Elof Loelv and recorded at ZAC Recording in Atlanta, Georgia.
On March 4, 2015, Grimmie announced that she had been dropped from Island Records and that she was working on a new album set to be released in late 2015. The new single from the album, "Cliché", was released on March 16, 2015. On April 27, Grimmie released her second single, "Stay With Me", a collaboration with Diamond Eyes, which climbed to No. 5 on the iTunes Electronic Charts. The song also was included on 2015 UKF Dubstep, an album showcasing the top dubstep songs of the year. She was also a contestant in the iHeartRadio/Macy's Rising Star Contest. On May 27, 2015, Grimmie was revealed as the winner of the contest, securing her spot to open the 2015 iHeartRadio Music Festival in September. On July 2, 2015, she released her third single, "Shrug". In September 2015, she was one of 16 international artists including Paul McCartney to record the charity single "Love Song to the Earth", which raises climate change awareness.
On February 21, 2016, Grimmie released her second EP, titled Side A, which consisted of four songs. Grimmie said Side B was likely to follow. She had hoped to release a second full-length album by the end of the year. Grimmie had made a four-part video series for Side A comprising "The Ballad of Jessica Blue"; in July 2016, Brian Teefey announced that the videos would debut via Billboard then be featured on her YouTube channel. The first video, for the song "Snow White", debuted on August 11. The second video, for "Anybody's You", debuted on August 18. "Deception" debuted on August 25; "Without Him" on September 1.
Grimmie made her motion picture acting debut in The Matchbreaker, directed by Caleb Vetter. The film was released in selected theaters in October 2016 and released digitally in December.
Grimmie received her first Teen Choice Award in 2016, winning posthumously for Choice Web Star: Music. It was her third such nomination. The televised ceremony caused backlash among her fans, who said her name was used to promote the show, but never mentioned during the broadcast despite the inclusion of a tribute to victims of gun violence.
Voice and influences
Grimmie possessed a light-lyric soprano vocal range of three octaves and three notes. In 2014, while on The Voice, Usher called her a "baby Céline Dion". Graham Nash said, "I’m amazed at the range and the control and the depth of her voice. At 20 years old? That’s insane." Shakira deemed her high register "out of this world."
Grimmie grew up listening to contemporary Christian artist Stacie Orrico: "She has a really awesome voice and I was so drawn to it. I think the reason I do have a soul voice is because I grew up listening to her and she was my huge, huge influence. I wanted to sound just like her, I wrote songs that kinda sounded like something she would do." Grimmie cited Christina Aguilera as her main influence vocally. She also said she admired Beyoncé for her vocals. She said she liked dubstep and DJ music, as well as rock 'n roll and heavy metal artists Metallica, Pantera, Iron Maiden, and Tool.
On June 10, 2016, Grimmie was shot by 27-year-old Kevin James Loibl while she signed autographs following her performance with Before You Exit at The Plaza Live in Orlando. Loibl was tackled by Grimmie's brother, but the gunman broke free, backed against a wall, and shot himself dead. Grimmie was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center in critical condition with four gunshot wounds; she was pronounced dead just before 11 p.m. local time.
The Orlando Police Department said Loibl traveled by taxicab to Orlando from his home in St. Petersburg, Florida, bringing two handguns, two extra magazines full of ammunition, and a hunting knife. "We believe he came here to commit this crime." Loibl did not have an arrest record in his home county, and did not appear to know Grimmie personally. Police did not offer a motive, but said Loibl had shown an "unrealistic infatuation" with the singer, and tried to make himself more physically attractive through weight loss, and hair and eye surgery. Loibl's family said they were not aware of his plans to travel to Orlando, nor that he possessed any guns.
Dozens of artists, producers and other celebrities took to social media in response to Grimmie's death. The Voice tweeted, "There are no words. We lost a beautiful soul with an amazing voice". Her former coach, Adam Levine, wrote that he and his wife were "absolutely devastated and heartbroken ... This is yet another senseless act of extreme violence." Longtime friend and former tour-mate Selena Gomez wrote, "My heart is absolutely broken. I miss you, Christina." Before You Exit, with whom Grimmie had performed before the shooting, tweeted, "Today we lost an angel, sister, and a beloved friend." Tori Kelly later co-wrote "Blink of an Eye" in Grimmie's memory.
Grimmie was buried in a private ceremony in her hometown on June 16. The following day, thousands of friends and fans attended a public memorial held in Medford, New Jersey.
Grimmie's death led to calls for increased security at performing arts venues. American heavy metal band Pantera, noting the similarities between Grimmie's murder and the deaths of former Pantera guitarist Darrell Abbott and three others in 2004, urged concert promoters and club owners to impose stronger measures to protect artists from "gun wielding fanatics. Sadly, that's not the case and another rising star had to pay the consequences with her life."
Selena Gomez, who was performing a few miles away in Orlando when Grimmie was shot, canceled a meet-and-greet that was scheduled as part of her Miami concert the following night. The Plaza Live reopened four days after the shooting, and management asked Orlando police to help evaluate the club's security. Some singers in Las Vegas—including Cali Tucker, another season six contestant on The Voice—were given escorts after their performances. In California, VidCon added metal detectors and security officers, and banned informal meet-and-greets, in the wake of Grimmie's shooting. Video personalities including Joey Graceffa were assigned private security. An industry attorney said the extra measures are "expensive, and fans don't like it. But this is the new reality."
On June 23, Billboard published "An Open Letter to Congress: Stop Gun Violence Now" demanding background checks for every gun purchase and an outright ban on sales to suspected terrorists. Billboard's editors said the ease with which "dangerous people" can get guns is the one connection between Grimmie's murder and the Pulse nightclub shooting the following night. The letter was signed by nearly 200 music industry luminaries, including artists Cher, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Thom Yorke, and surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and executives Daniel Glass, Irving Azoff, and Russell Simmons.
In December 2016, six months after her murder, Grimmie's family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against several entities, including the concert promoter, the foundation that owns the venue, and the security company working the event. In January 2017, the venues requested that the judge dismiss the lawsuit, claiming Florida law does not allow business owners to be held liable for attacks on their property.
|2016||The Matchbreaker||Emily Atkins||Independent film|
|2012 - 2014||Dancing with the Stars||Herself||Musical Guest|
|2014 Orange Bowl||Herself||National Anthem Singer|
|Teens Wanna Know||Herself||-|
|VIP for a Day||Herself||-|
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|US ||US |
|With Love|| ||101||20||167|
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|The Complete Season 6 Collection (The Voice Performance)|| ||192|
|The Matchbreaker (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|| ||—|
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Find Me|| ||35||6||44|
|Side A|| ||171||11||—|
|Single||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|US ||US |
|"Tell My Mama"||2013||—||—||—||With Love|
|"Wrecking Ball (The Voice Performance)"||—||—||—||The Complete Season 6 Collection (The Voice Performance)|
|"I Knew You Were Trouble (The Voice Performance)"||—||—||—|
|"Counting Stars (The Voice Performance)"||—||—||—|
|"I Won't Give Up (The Voice Performance)"||—||—||—|
|"Dark Horse (The Voice Performance)"||—||—||—|
|"Hold On, We're Going Home (The Voice Performance)"||74||6||64|
|"How to Love (The Voice Performance)"||79||7||79|
|"Hide and Seek (The Voice Performance)"||—||—||—|
|"Some Nights (The Voice Performance)"||—||—||—|
|"Can't Help Falling in Love (The Voice Performance)"||74||4||68|
|"Somebody That I Used to Know (The Voice Performance)" |
(Grimmie and Adam Levine)
|"Must Be Love"||—||—||—||Non-album singles|
|"Stay with Me" |
(Diamond Eyes and Grimmie)
|"Love Song to the Earth" |
(Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Fergie, Colbie Caillat, Natasha Bedingfield, Leona Lewis, Sean Paul, Johnny Rzeznik, Krewella, Angélique Kidjo, Kelsea Ballerini, Nicole Scherzinger, Grimmie, Victoria Justice and Q'orianka Kilcher)
|"—" denotes items which did not chart.|
|2013||"Tell My Mama"||David Turvey|
|2015||"What a Girl Is"||Layne Pavoggi|
|2016||"Snow White"||King Hollis|
Awards and nominations
|2011||American Music Awards||New Media Honoree (Female)||Won|
|2013||Radio Disney Music Awards||Biggest Viral Artist||Nominated|
|2014||Young Hollywood Awards||Viral Superstar||Nominated|
|2014||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Web Star: Music||Nominated|
|2015||Choice Web Star: Music||Nominated|
|2015||iHeart Radio Rising Star||iHeart Contest||Won|
|2016||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Web Star: Music||Won|
- DigiTour — Lancaster PA, Washington D.C., New York NY (2011)
- Selena Gomez & the Scene — We Own the Night Tour (2011)
- Selena Gomez — Stars Dance Tour (2013)
- IHeartRadio Music Festival — Las Vegas, NV (2015)
- Rachel Platten — The Wildfire Tour (2016)
- Before You Exit — All The Lights Tour (2016)
- The Voice — Summer Tour (2014)
- Before You Exit — January and February UK/Europe Tour (2015)
- Platten, Rachel. "SO excited that @hunterhunted123 + @therealgrimmie will be joining me on my #WILDFIRE tour!". Retrieved December 28, 2015.