It’s not every day that you meet a 12-year-old singer-songwriter with enough talent and confidence to win one of the most competitive shows on TV. However, that’s what Grace VanderWaal did on America’s Got Talent Season 11. VanderWaal first wowed viewers and Judges with a show-stopping performance of her original song “I Don’t Know My Name.”
Howie Mandel was so impressed with VanderWaal’s Audition that he gave her the coveted Golden Buzzer.
According to fellow Judge Simon Cowell, VanderWaal also gave AGT the push it needed to become “cool.”
“When I joined the show in 2016, I prayed we were going to find a great singer and that was the year we met Grace,” Cowell told AGT Host Terry Crews as the duo reflected on the top Golden Buzzer moments in July 5’s Simon’s Favorite Golden Buzzers episode.
Although Cowell admitted he was skeptical when VanderWaal revealed she would be performing an original song, he ultimately feels that’s what set her Audition apart.
“This is one of the reasons this Audition became such a monster because she didn’t sing a cover, she did sing her own song,” explained Cowell. “And you know, she’s a great songwriter—a brilliant songwriter. I would say this is the moment when AGT became cool, because she was so cool.”
VanderWaal’s Audition sent the audience into immediate enthusiasm. “I don’t think she was expecting that reaction,” added Cowell while watching the try-out. “I know, look at her face,” agreed Crews with a smile.
In the six years since her Season 11 win, VanderWaal has kept her career momentum going. Not only did she sign with the prestigious IMG models, but she also released her first album, Just the Beginning, in addition to a handful of EPs.
Watch America’s Got Talent on NBC Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET and next day on Peacock.