NBC’s America’s Got Talent winner Grace VanderWaal wowed audiences when she appeared on the famous television show in 2016. Becoming the youngest contestant to win the series in a decade at just 12 years old, VanderWaal was showered with adoration by judges, with Simon Cowell even calling her “the next Taylor Swift.”
Since her successful stint on the show, VanderWaal has released an EP and dropped her latest single in June 2017 — the summer sizzler “Moonchild.” But there’s plenty of tidbits that have eluded even the most ardent AGT fan, so without further ado here are 20 little-known secrets about the gifted young performer from Suffern, New York that you probably never knew.
1. She’s a self-made star
Unlike most of the singers that appear on talent shows, VanderWaal actually wrote her own material. Incredible that at just 12 years old, she was delivering mature cuts such as “I Don’t Know My Name,” “Light the Sky,” and the show-winning “Clay.” And with her full-length debut album slated for release later this year, it’s clear that she’s got no shortage of ideas.
2. She’s got a lot to give
As touched upon previously, VanderWaal vowed to give a portion of her AGTwinnings to charitable causes. As it’s close to her heart, she wants to find a music charity to receive the money. Having banked a million bucks for her success on the show, it’s heartwarming to see the young star give something back as well.
3. She learned to play ukulele by watching online tutorials
Apparently, the budding young singer taught herself to play the ukulele, with only the help of some self-help YouTube tutorials. Once she mastered the four-stringed thing, she went to local open mic nights to improve her performing skills. She now has not one, but five of the miniature instruments.
4. She saved up money for the gift of music
VanderWaal’s decision to pick up the ukulele was greatly inspired by a family friend, but she had to save up her own money first. Yes, it was on her 11th birthday when she decided to give it a go, gathering up enough cash to buy herself the quirky instrument. The popular performer cited Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots as another key influence, telling the Daily Beast: “My sister had introduced me to Twenty One Pilots and I saw the lead singer playing the ukulele, so I just had to learn it.”
5. She is instrumental in her own success
VanderWaal is no stranger to trying out different instruments, in fact, she can play three. As well as getting to grips with the piano and saxophone since the age of four, her most well-known instrument of choice is the ukulele — which she used throughout her victory run on AGT. Speaking of the uke…
6. Her father is a VP at LG
Grace isn’t the only high-flyer in the family, particularly her dad. Yes, David VanderWaal is in fact a marketing vice president for entertainment company LG Electronics — a very lucrative position at a very popular corporation. You can also salute her brother, Jakob, who is enrolled at South Carolina’s Camden Military Academy.