The words "next Taylor Swift" don't get tossed around lightly. A positive review from Simon Cowell is just as rare. Grace VanderWaal has received both of those honors, and she's only 12.
The Suffern, New York, ukulele player has been advancing pretty quickly in this season of America's Got Talent, and even if you don't know her name or watch the show, there may be a pretty good chance you've seen her sing. A viral video of VanderWaal singing Elle King's "Ex's & Oh's" has swiftly made its way around Facebook and YouTube, where it's garnered nearly 3 million views.
VanderWaal's voice is a slight rasp with a delightful vibrato (only in the right places), and you never hear her missing a note. She's a master at the uke, but she uses her voice as an instrument too, knowing which effect to use at all times.
She's got charisma and charm, preaching self-love in her YouTube videos. Here she is with her dog, doing a Meghan Trainor cover:
Grace VanderWaal's also got originals. Her lyrics are simple, but they hit all the relatable points in your heart. She's got songs about fake friends, finding optimism at your darkest points and, her most requested song, "I Don't Know My Name," a cut about fitting in.
She told Teen Vogue that she had always planned on auditioning for American Idol, but since that show ended with Season 15, her mom signed her up for America's Got Talent. In June, her audition got the thumbs up of acceptance by the judges, and it's an emotional one (and a viral one—this video has 33 million views):
Last week, she performed an original song—this one is about her bond with her big sister:
On Tuesday night, she performed yet another original, "Light the Sky," with a cellist. "I can't stop dancing like no one's around / And yeah, I think we were born to shine," she sang.
Now that's VanderWaal's in the semifinals, she's got a good chance at winning the competition. Although, even if she doesn't, we're confident it won't be the last time you'll see her.