Reflections on the Christina Grimmie Tragedy: Why it Hits Home for Musician Moms

— by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

It’s been a crazy month. Between processing heaps of terrible news while balancing motherhood and life, I haven’t had much time to mull over a particularly disturbing incident that has rattled me since Newtown: the shooting death of up-and-coming Voice singer Christina Grimmie at age 22.

Obviously, I felt numb and stunned after I heard the news of her June 10, 2016, passing. I’d gotten to “know” her as a contestant on The Voice, which I watch pretty regularly. She had a perfect voice, and a sunny, bubbly disposition that made her an easy favorite.

Unfortunately, I barely had time to dwell on the sadness over her passing when another, bigger Orlando-area tragedy struck the next night, which ended with the death of 49 innocent club-goers.

The Pulse tragedy overshadowed Grimmie’s death, understandably because of its magnitude, but it didn’t lessen its impact. Now that a couple of weeks have passed, and the reality of what happened to Grimmie has “settled” in, I’ve had some time to think about why her death affected me so much.

As a female musician who’s fronted several bands, I am familiar with fan obsession (albeit to a lesser degree). I’ve never been famous — my biggest accomplishments in the performance/songwriter realm never amounted to a fraction of what Grimmie amassed — but I’ve had a handful of fans (mostly men) who’ve made me uncomfortable at one time or another. Usually, these creepy dudes would leave me alone after I made it clear that their e-mails/Myspace messages/proposals of love were unrequited.

Maybe I’m one of the lucky ones who never “made it.” The more famous a musician gets, the more likely it becomes that he or she will encounter some truly psychologically “off” fans and/or obsessive types. While my heart goes out to those individuals whose dispositions stray far from “normal” (any of us could have been born with, or developed, a stigmatizing mental illness), I feel more sorry for those who achieve any degree of fame at the expense of safety.

Former Voice winner Craig Wayne Boyd encapsulated my feelings — and those of several musicians — when he told Taste of Country, “Any artist will tell you, the meet and greets, and the personal connection to the fans, that’s a lot of why we do what we do … for that time and intimate moment to be violated like it was in this instance is devastating.”

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Christina Grimmie

The Grimmie tragedy has impacted bigger-name acts as well. Singer Meghan Trainor freaked out so much that she told Page Six she planned to beef up security. “I go out all the time without security, and you just never know,” she told the publication. “You have no idea who’s out there obsessed with you to the point that they would do something like that.”

Beyond being a musician, I’m also a mom in an era of instant fame and YouTube sensations. It’s easier than ever for crazed fans from all over the world to encounter and become obsessed with an up-and-coming entertainer. Today, my oldest child is closer in age to 22-year-old Grimmie than I am. It’s a sobering reminder that what happened to Grimmie could happen to my son(s), or any of my friends’ children should they decide to pursue music and become reasonably successful.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy.

Why Rockin’ Mama — and Team Christina protégée — Alisan Porter Should Win The Voice

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

I got hooked on “The Voice” in Season 2, many years back, and will never forget the anger I felt when rocker Juliet Simms was denied victory. She should have won — critics knew it, her coach CeeLo knew it — but somehow Team Blake’s Jermaine Paul snagged the big prize (of course, Jermaine is a talented singer in his own right, but many of us expected Juliet to win!).

Since then, I’ve gotten excited over a handful of candidates — the standouts in my head are Matt McAndrew (Season 7, Team Adam), Cassadee Pope (Season 3, Team Blake), Michelle Chamuel (Season 4, Team Usher), and, of course, Jordan Smith (Season 9, Team Adam). All were the kind of candidates you just knew, at first listen, would make it to the finals (and they all did!).

I wasn’t planning on watching “The Voice” past the blind auditions this year, but something — rather, someone — captivated me in a way that few other “Voice” contestants have since Juliet Simms. I’m talking about Alisan Porter. Her rich, passionate, vocals are breathtakingly piercing — and utterly inspiring.

As many music and entertainment writers have noted, Alisan’s jaw-dropping vocals on her audition cover of Linda Ronstandt’s “Blue Bayou” — as well as Janis Joplin’s “Cry Baby” and Aerosmith’s “Cryin’”– made her a true standout. A one in a million girl — and certainly someone who deserves the title of “The Voice” for the show’s 10th Season.

But while her voice is compelling, so is her personal story.

Alisan Porter’s entertainment career began in 1991, when the now 34-year-old mom of two scored a starring role in the movie Curly Sue. But instead of seeing her acting career take off, years later, Alisan found herself in the midst of alcohol addiction. And while she’s been sober for eight years, most of her energy up to this point has been focused on motherhood and marriage.

Should Alisan nab the victory on Tuesday night, it’ll represent a true comeback for someone who seems to truly deserve a comeback.

Another reason you should vote for Alisan Porter — either by downloading her song on iTunes, or voting for her on The Voice’s home page/app before Tuesday 10 a.m. ET — is that no one else like her has won the show. Finalist Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell) is the 20-something gal who can sing anything (kind of like Cassadee Pope … and dozens of other contestants); and country singer Adam Wakefield, while talented, is  really just another version of Team Blake Season 7 winner Craig Wayne Boyd.

My second choice for winner, Iraqi-American bluesman Laith Al-Saadi, is also a true original — with his bellowing, big voice and out-of-this-world guitar soloing ability. But the show is called “The Voice” for a reason (no offense to guitarists!). A winner should bring something unique to the collective pop-rock vocal soundscape as well as a powerful contribution to the world of popular music.

Finally, it would be nice to see a female coach actually win this thing for once — especially someone as talented and nurturing as Christina Aguilera. The female coaches have the odds stacked against them on this show, since every season has only allowed for one female spot (and, as it looks, one minority spot), while bro-mancers Adam Levine and Blake Shelton remain the big mainstays. As a side note, wild gal Miley Cyrus and R&B piano mama Alicia Keys are sliding into the new judge slots for Season 11, replacing Pharrell and Christina Aguilera, so that should shake things up a bit!

Those of you who don’t follow the show should take a few minutes to listen to Alisan Porter for yourself (just do it before Tuesday!). I’d be shocked if any person, rockmommy or not, isn’t moved by her vocals and her presence.

The Voice Season 10 Final airs Monday, May 23, 2016, at 8 p.m. on NBC. For more on how to vote and download the official app of “The Voice,” check out the show’s home page.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy.