NEW YORK • A memorial took place for rising singing star Christina Grimmie near her New Jersey hometown last Friday after she was fatally shot by a deranged fan while signing autographs in Orlando, Florida.
Her funeral at the Fellowship Alliance Chapel in Medford, New Jersey, opened with a recording of her cover of the song In Christ Alone before relatives and friends shared their memories of the 22-year-old.
"All the rumours are true, when the gunman came, he was very quick, it happened so fast, her arms were open and she saw Jesus next," her brother, Marcus, said during the service packed with more than 1,500 friends, family and fans, reported People magazine.
She was shot in Orlando's Plaza Live concert hall on June 10 after performing as the opening act for the band Before You Exit. Kevin James Loibl, 27, of St. Petersburg, Florida, approached her and opened fire before being tackled by her brother. Loibl died on the scene of a self- inflicted gunshot wound.
"Her arms were open for him, her arms were open at all times," Marcus said. "I love you Christina, you are the best."
Grimmie began working with professional music producers at age 16, the funeral home's obituary said.
She rose to fame on YouTube, performing covers of well-known songs by contemporary artists such as Miley Cyrus, Celine Dion and Usher that garnered millions of views. Her profile grew in 2014 when she competed on the sixth season of the popular NBC singing competition The Voice. She finished third, winning the praise of its celebrity hosts, a broader fan base and a deal with Island Records.
During the service, her sobbing mother, Tina, was quoted by People as saying: "I don't have too much to say. I could tell you about the memories of when she was a baby and she lah-la-lahed and when she was getting a bath, I'd tell her to sing for Jesus."
She said the last time she saw her daughter "was on my birthday, May 25", when the family went to The Cheesecake Factory.
Her husband, Albert, was quoted by People as saying: "There is this gigantic hole in my heart that I know is never going to go away, but God showed me he is way bigger than that hole. I believe that. There are three things that keep me upright rather than being a crumpled mess in the corner. I know I am going to see her again."
He added: "She is not going to be hurting... This is where I am wrestling, God's plan is better than my plan. I've argued with God, 'Your plans are better than mine?' This doesn't make sense."
The obituary also said Grimmie recently raised US$250,000 (S$337,500) for the Humane Society of the United States.