Christina Victoria Grimmie (March 12, 1994 – June 11, 2016) was an American singer and songwriter, 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.
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Christina 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. She was of Italian and Romanian descent. Grimmie grew up in Marlton, New Jersey, where she attended Baptist Regional Elementary School and Cherokee High School. Grimmie identified herself 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.
2009–10: 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 reached YouTube stardom with her cover of Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” in August 2009. She became known for her cover with fellow YouTuber Sam Tsui of Nelly’s “Just a Dream”, which has had more than 128 million views between the three official versions of the video as of February 9, 2016. Since uploading her videos, she has had over 375 million views and over two million subscribers on her channel as of April 28, 2013, which has made her the 4th most subscribed musician on YouTube. She also placed at No. 2 in the MyYouTube competition, behind Selena Gomez, and in front of Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Justin Bieber. 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.
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2012–13: With Love
In January 2012, Grimmie moved to Los Angeles to pursue her singing career; she was signed in early 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.
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2014–16: 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 and fellow season 6 finalists 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 UFK 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.
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On June 10, 2016, Grimmie was shot by 27-year-old Kevin James Loibl of St. Petersburg, Florida, while she signed autographs following her performance with Before You Exit at The Plaza Live in Orlando. Loibl then fatally shot himself after being tackled by Grimmie’s brother Marcus. Christina was taken to the Orlando Regional Medical Center in critical condition; she died early the following day.
The Orlando Police Department reported that Loibl did not have an arrest record in his home county, and did not appear to know Grimmie personally. A department spokesman said Loibl had traveled to Orlando “apparently to commit this crime”; Loibl had brought with him two handguns, two extra magazines full of ammunition, and a hunting knife. Her funeral will take place on June 17, 2016.
Following confirmation of Grimmie’s death, The Voice tweeted, “There are no words. We lost a beautiful soul with an amazing voice”. Her coach, Adam Levine, wrote that he and his wife were “absolutely devastated and heartbroken … This is yet another senseless act of extreme violence. I am left stunned and confused how these things can conceivably continue to happen in our world”. 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”.
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. Something needs to change”.
Selena Gomez, who was performing a few miles away at the Amway Center 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 invited Orlando police “to evaluate our security practices and protocols.” In California, VidCon announced plans to tighten security at its events in the wake of Grimmie’s shooting, including adding metal detectors and security officers, and banning informal meet-and-greets. An industry attorney said metal detectors are expensive and unpopular, “and I understand that hiring experienced security to pat everyone down is also expensive, and fans don’t like it. But this is the new reality”.