Lindsey Stirling appeared on Season 5 of “America’s Got Talent” ― a whopping eight years ago. Since competing on the show, she’s gone on to tour the world and amassed more than two billion views on YouTube. Last year, she snagged the best-selling new Christmas album with “Warmer in the Winter.”
But recently, the producers of “America’s Got Talent” gave her a ring, she said. They wanted Stirling to return to the “AGT” stage to compete in “The Champions,” a spinoff of the variety competition, which finds previous contenders from seasons 1 - 13 facing off against one another.
“It was really funny because they called me, and I thought maybe they wanted me to be a guest performer or something and I literally, my jaw kind of dropped,” she told HuffPost at Build Series. “They were like, ‘We want to invite you back on America’s Got Talent.’ And I was like, ‘Thank you. I don’t mean to be rude, but I would never come back to compete. Like, I’m sorry I do really well on my own now. I tour the world. Thank you, but absolutely not.’ It was a funny moment for me.”
When Stirling appeared on the series in 2010, she received some harsh criticism from the judges who doubted whether she was ready to be a full-fledged dancing violinist. ”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 told Stirling at the time.
Now with some hindsight, Stirling realizes Morgan and the other judges were right.
“It took me years to realize that they weren’t necessarily wrong. It’s easy for people to look at it like, ‘Oh they messed up. They sure missed out on you.’ But looking at the video, I wasn’t great. And it’s not that they were wrong. And I think that’s why it hurt so bad when I was on the show and I got kicked off and when they said really mean things to me. It hurt so bad because it was kind of true, and I think the truth hurts way more. And they were right. I hadn’t earned or developed the skills to be able to dance, to be thrown around up in the air while playing the violin. It’s really difficult.”
Stirling took time to perfect her craft and has since made a name for herself as a performer.
“I spent a lot of time — years — honing this craft so that I could get back out there, could get on a stage and say now I’m ready,” she said. “There was a lot of hard work that needed to happen. It was a brand new skill I was trying out on ‘America’s Got Talent.’”
Although she won’t be returning to the “AGT” stage when the “The Champions” premieres in January, Stirling will be busy over the next year. She recently released a deluxe edition of her holiday album and is currently on a Christmas tour. Looking ahead, she’s working on new original music and writing a play. It’s all contributing to her growth as both an artist and a person.
“I think emotionally is where I’ve grown the most,” Stirling said. “And I think that’s a place where we will never stop growing. And the most self-aware we become, the more you realize: Wow, I have a lot of say in how I feel about myself. I can help determine where I’m at mentally and emotionally. I don’t just have to sit in the passenger seat of my life.’”