Grace VanderWaal‘s 2017 couldn’t be any brighter. Since her America’s Got Talent win last year, the 13-year-old singer released her debut album, Just the Beginning; launched a headlining tour; and was listed as one of Billboard‘s 21 Under 21 ones to watch.
VanderWaal is capping off her incredible year as Billboard‘s Rising Star at the 2017 Women in Music event.
Ahead of the event, which will be streaming live Thursday via Twitter starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, VanderWaal spoke with Billboard about the importance of diversity and individuality in music.
“It’s not really so much anymore like the generic pop star,” she says. “It’s kind of like anyone can be what they want, and it’s such a beautiful, beautiful message.”
She elaborates on this concept, saying that America’s Got Talent was usually known for breeding the next pop sensation. “It was really hard to say that I’m going to be me throughout this process, and I think it’s probably easier to do that now than in the past…times are changing and people are realizing it’s OK to be different.”
Women in Music and the red carpet pre-show will live-stream via Twitter starting at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday.