You probably haven’t heard of Grace VanderWaal yet, but there’s a good chance you will. The 12-year-old singer has been blazing a path through the current season of America’s Got Talent, earning heaps of praise from the judges, who’ve compared her to Taylor Swift, with good reason.
On Tuesday night (Aug. 23), the preternaturally mature singer from Suffern, New York, did it again, crushing hearts with an original ukulele ballad inspired by her older sister, Olivia, entitled “Beautiful Thing.” She earned a rare standing ovation from hard-to-please judge Simon Cowell, who said even though she hit some bum notes, it was perfect.
“There is something so sweet and charming about you and so real,” Cowell said. “I am going to predict we’re all going to remember the moment in years to come when we saw Grace sing live for the first time.”
“You’re my other half/ You’re amazing to me,” VanderWaal sang in her scratchy voice, describing how she can do nothing at all with her big sis and be totally happy.
Cowell was joined in the praise-a-thon by Howie Mandel, who earlier in the season used his golden buzzer to advance VanderWaal to the live shows on the strength of another original, “I Don’t Know My Name,” about trying to get noticed in this big, wide world.
“You are a superstar… you’re the best thing I’ve ever seen on this show,” Mandel said of the tween whose audition videos have racked up more than 100 million YouTube views to date. He said she might have the potential to be “bigger than Taylor Swift. I predict you are the biggest star to ever come out of this show.”
Wednesday’s (Aug. 24) results show will reveal if she makes it to the semi-finals.