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Remembering #WCW Christina Grimmie’s YouTube legacy
A tiny girl with a huge voice.
The Daily Dot is celebrating Woman Crush Wednesday, better known as #WCW on Twitter and Instagram, by highlighting female creators on YouTube whose work we admire. Today, a somber look at one of our all-time favorites.
The weekend brought the tragic news of powerhouse vocalist Christina Grimmie being shot and killed by a disturbed gunman while signing autographs after a concert in Orlando, Florida. She was 22 years old.
While remembered by the general public for her standout performances on The Voice, for millions of us, our adoration started long before then.
A tiny girl with a huge voice, Grimmie’s painfully short career changed music on YouTube.
She started her channel when she was just 15 years old and immediately gained more than a million views from her debut cover of Hannah Montana’s “Don’t Wanna Be Torn.” In 2010, she performed her first YouTube collaboration with friends and fellow musicians Sam Tsui and Kurt Hugo Schneider. From there, Grimmie rose to become one of the most talented breakout artists on the platform. She was a frequent collaborator with musician Mike Tompkins, whose acapella style perfectly complimented Grimmie’s wide and powerful range.
In 2014 Grimmie auditioned for The Voice with a cover of “Wrecking Ball” that received a four-chair turn and standing ovation. While she was eliminated during the semifinals, her rock aesthetic and unforgettable chops landed her a tour with Before You Exit. Grimmie released the first songs of her new album to her nearly 3.5 million YouTube fans right before she left on tour last month.
The YouTube and music communities have since rallied to honor Grimmie’s memory. Fellow creators Sam Tsui, Mackenzie Johnson, Dodie Clark, and AJ Rafael created covers in the star’s memory, crediting her for paving the way for other artists on YouTube.
Shane Dawson emotionally thanked her for her friendship while Phil DeFranco and Taryn Southern discussed the effect of this tragedy on the community as a whole. Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez sang tributes to Grimmie while Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, Christina Aguilera, and Blake Shelton took to social media to share their heartbreak and prayers with the Grimmie family.
Grimmie’s brother Marcus, who tackled the shooter, has since spoken out on Facebook:
They were known for their unbreakable bond, visible in their matching, gamer-centric tattoos of “P1” and “P2” for “player 1” and “player 2.”
This week, hundreds gathered to hold a vigil for Grimmie in her hometown of Evesham, New Jersey, where the star will be laid to rest in a private ceremony later this week.
Grimmie’s manager and Selena Gomez’s stepfather, Brian Teefey, started a GoFundMe to help raise funds for the star’s funeral and in a matter of days, fans had donated over $160,000. While these funds will go to helping Grimmie’s family in the wake of this tragedy, Grimmie’s former Voice coach Levine stepped forward to pay for the funeral.
It wasn’t just her raw talent as a musician that made her so beloved, but the extent to which she allowed fans into her family. And as much as she loved her YouTube audience, the feeling was mutual. When her mom began her second battle with breast cancer, Grimmie’s fans created videos to raise her spirits.
To the YouTube community, she was known as a multi-dimensional person; a gamer, musician, fashion icon, animal lover, daughter, Christian. She was known as kind, generous, hard-working, and through example, inspired fans to live life authentically and passionately.
Let’s be clear: Grimmie is the epitome of the best parts of YouTube—inspiring, talented, generous, self-made. While she will always be missed, her legacy and influence will continue to thrive and inspire millions.
Carly Lanning is a journalist who covers social media. Her work has been published by Psychology Today, NBC, Thrillist, and Ms. Magazine.