Published Monday, June 13, 2016 | 12:58 p.m.
Updated Monday, June 13, 2016 | 2:25 p.m.
The senseless tragedy of the death of “The Voice” Season 6 third-place finisher Christina Grimmie hit home hard over the weekend. The 22-year-old mesmerized with a performance in December at the Venetian’s lavish Ultimo dinner as she made her Las Vegas debut.
Everybody from hotel execs to the biggest of star chefs who met her was captivated. She performed several songs solo during the dinner on a raised platform at her piano and also was accompanied on other material by Las Vegas electronic violinist Lydia Ansel and pianist Reuel.
“I’m in shock. A beautiful flame has been extinguished. It was an honor performing with her,” said Lydia. Contributing photographer Tom Donoghue, who captured their performance especially for Vegas DeLuxe, added:
“Through my lens, I saw and photographed a beautiful, vibrant young lady who you could see was coming into her own. … Being young, she was a little shy, but at the same time you could tell she was very self-assured.”
A contingent of celebrity chefs, including our own Thomas Keller, Mario Batali and Daniel Boulud, who presented the five-course masterpiece, all met Christina as she electrified guests with her amazing vocal talents. Said chef Ming Tsai: “What a waste of a beautiful talent and person. I am too shocked.”
I will never forget the image of Christina sitting alone but having all the star chefs fuss over her as she ate dinner at the backstage kitchen staging tables. I kept inviting her to come sit at the big table with the 200 guests, but she said that she was quite comfortable where she was out of the spotlight.
“It’s OK when I’m out there singing,” she told me. “But I’m happy here in the kitchen. I can get away early for bed because I have an early flight tomorrow.”
Sebastien Silvestri, vice president of food and beverage for the Venetian and Palazzo who hired Christina to entertain the Ultimo guests, told me: “That was such a great moment when we were backstage. She loved her dessert. She was so excited. She touched all of us.
“She gave an amazing performance that night. This young woman had such a beautiful voice with such range. Her personality lit up the room. She was a true star. Our guests loved her as much as we did.
“When the news hit of what happened, many of our guests reached out remembering the magical evening we’d shared with her. All of us were shocked. We will never forget her beautiful voice and kindness.
“It was magical because she had something very special about her that will let us remember her forever. She made an incredible impact just walking into the room with that smile, and then she sang like an angel. Rest in peace, Christina.”
Police in Orlando, Fla., reported that a deranged fan Christina didn’t know gunned her down. The suspected attacker was identified as 27-year-old Kevin James Loibl of St. Petersburg, who entered the Plaza Live concert hall in Orlando where she had just appeared as the opening act for the band Before You Exit.
The madman carried two loaded handguns, additional loaded magazine ammunition and a hunting knife when he shot the singer in the back of her head as she was signing autographs. He died at the scene of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after Christina’s brother, Marcus, wrestled him to the ground.
About 120 fans witnessed the murder. Orlando police said that Marcus, who was uninjured, was a hero, probably saving countless other lives.
Christina was taken to a local hospital in critical condition late Friday night and died Saturday morning. Adam Levine, frontman of Maroon 5 who was Christina’s coach on “The Voice,” said, “There are no words. We lost a beautiful soul with an amazing voice. Our hearts go out to the family, friends and fans of @TheRealGrimmie.”
Josh Kaufman, who defeated Christina to win the 2014 season, tweeted, “My deepest and most sincere condolences go out to her family. Such a tragic loss.”
“The Voice” host Carson Daly added: “I’m still in shock. So sad. She was special. She had IT: talented, kind, funny, loving, courageous. We hurt with her family. Our artists and families is my territory on ‘The Voice.’ I take great pride knowing them, hosting them, supporting them. It’s not TV. It’s real.”
Christina Aguilera commented: “So sad her passing. A beautiful member of the ‘Voice’ family and a true fighter. My heart goes out to her family.”
Blake Shelton, recently here for the 2016 Billboard Music Awards and a coach on “The Voice,” added: “I’m stunned, disgusted and heartbroken that we lost that sweet little girl.” Cassadee Pope tweeted: “What a sweetheart she was. The world lost a shining star.”
Stars from Miranda Lambert to Demi Lovato to Nick Jonas sent outpourings of love and condolences to the slain singer. Selena Gomez, who is the stepdaughter of Christina’s longtime manager Brian Teefey, summed up everybody’s feelings from Las Vegas to Orlando:
“My heart is absolutely broken. Words cannot begin to describe the pain I am feeling.”
Brian and Selena have created a GoFundMe account to assist the slain singer’s family in their time of need. And, announced this morning, Christina’s “Voice” coach Adam has offered to pay for Christina’s funeral.
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
In the spirit of Venice, The Venetian is a little piece of romantic Italy right here in Las Vegas. The Venetian is an "all-suite" hotel, with rooms accented with plush linens and Italian marble. The 4,027 suites are divided into two towers: The 36-story Venetian Tower that offers guests a taste of luxurious Las Vegas and the Venezia suites, which guarantee 12 floors of high-end elegance. The top five floors are the hotel's highest level of luxury with its private access, concierge lounge, upgraded features and even a dedicated staff.
The flagship of Venetian nightlife is TAO, an ultra-hip nightclub located inside of TAO Asian Bistro. V Bar is The Venetian's super smooth ultra lounge, made by the owners of New York City's club Lotus and Los Angeles' super swank Sunset Room.
The Venetian features 19 restaurants including Thomas Keller's award-winning French restaurant Bouchon, Mario Batali's B&B Ristorante, Aquaknox for fresh seafood and the 42,000 square foot TAO Asian Bistro. There's also the food court inside the Canal Shoppes for those looking for a quick bite.
Guests can float along The Grand Canal Shops in an authentic Italian gondola ride and pass stores like Burberry and Kenneth Cole along the way. And if you haven't caught a real celeb, on the street in Vegas, you can head over to Madame Tussauds to check out a wax version.