The news that Christina Grimmie -- the 22-year-old singer who, as a New Jersey teen, made a name for herself on YouTube before broadening her fame in 2014 on Season 6 of “The Voice” – was shot and killed Friday while signing autographs for fans after a concert in Orlando, Fla., is tragic. But for fans of “The Voice” who watched Grimmie show off, during her time on the show, not only her impressive vocal chops and stage presence, but also her musical creativity, willingness to experiment and upbeat resilience, the loss must be heartbreaking.
Those who watched Grimmie turn four chairs during her blind audition and then stick around to finish third on the show, behind only sweet, shy, country-singing runner-up Jake Worthington (of Team Blake Shelton) and silky-soulful winner Josh Kaufman (of Team Usher), knew she was an unusual talent. Grimmie’s coach, Adam Levine, believed in her so fiercely that, at one point, he promised the audience she would end up winning the show. Then, when she didn’t, he announced that he planned to sign her to his own label.
Levine took to Twitter to share that he and his wife, model Behati Prinsloo, were “absolutely devastated and heartbroken” by the news of Grimmie’s death. Shelton tweeted that he was “stunned and disgusted and heartbroken” at the loss of “that sweet little girl.”
As details about the circumstances of Grimmie’s death continue to emerge, it’s worth remembering some of the triumphs of the promising young singer’s all too short life.
Here are six memorable moments of her time on “The Voice.”
1) Grimmie’s blind audition, when she seriously came in like a “Wrecking Ball” and showed off her powerful vocals and potent performance style on the Miley Cyrus hit, earning not only a four-chair turn, but standing ovations from both Usher, who dubbed her “phenomenal,” and Levine, who called her “engaging and passionate” and even more comfortable onstage than he.
2) Her intense Top 12-show take on Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse,” in which she brought new meaning to the lyrics “there’s no going back.” Usher called Grimmie a “baby Celine Dion.” Levine said she had “huge pop star” potential. And Shelton was moved to remark that petite powerhouse Grimmie was “100% proof that dynamite comes in small packages.”
3) Her Top 10 performance of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” on which she accompanied herself on the piano. Levine said he’d wanted her to do a song “that no one else would pick and do it in a way that no one else would do it,” adding that it was a “cool trailblazing thing to do on the show.” Guest mentor Graham Nash gushed that Grimmie’s vocal “range,” “control” and “depth,” at age 20, were “insane.” Shelton said it was the moment she went “from being a singer to being an artist.”
4) At the time, the decision to sing Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” with the help of a voice processor called a vocoder during the semifinals maybe didn’t seem like such a great idea. It put Grimmie in danger of being sent home. (Thankfully, she was saved.) Today, though, it seems like evidence of Grimmie’s creativity, as did her version of fun.’s “Some Nights” – with cool lighting effects and tons of balloons – on that same show.
5) The performance that prompted Levine to unapologetically promise viewers that Grimmie would win the show if they saved her, Timbaland’s “Apologize.”
6) Grimmie’s performance of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” in the finals, which Levine said was fearless and Shakira called “flawless.” (Her finale duet with Adam Levine on Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” was also fab.)
In fact, pretty much any time Grimmie got on the stage that season, she solidified the impression that she was destined to be a star. (There was the duet she did with Ed Sheeran during the Season 6 finale, which moved me to write that “their intertwined voices sounded like a caress,” and the time she returned the following season to sing her own song, “With Love,” and, and, and …) That she didn’t get a chance to live that destiny for long is just heartbreaking. Truly.