At just 19 years old, Grace VanderWaal has already accomplished more in the music industry than most artists do in a lifetime. Her unique indie-folk sound, emotive songwriting, and ukulele skills have captured the hearts of fans worldwide. So who exactly is this talented young artist? Let‘s take a closer look at the meteoritic rise of Grace VanderWaal.
Early Life and Discovery
Grace Avery VanderWaal was born on January 15, 2004 in Lenexa, Kansas. From a young age, she loved singing and taught herself to play the ukulele using YouTube tutorials. At only 11 years old, Grace began sharing covers and original songs on her YouTube channel, showcasing her angelic voice and advanced musicianship.
In 2016, a 12-year old Grace auditioned for season 11 of America‘s Got Talent. Her ukulele-accompanied performance of her original song "I Don‘t Know My Name" earned her the golden buzzer from judge Howie Mandel. Grace advanced through the rounds with more original compositions, ultimately winning the season and $1 million prize.
Record Deals and Rising Popularity
Shortly after her America‘s Got Talent win, Grace signed a record deal with Columbia Records. She released her first EP, Perfectly Imperfect, in 2016 which included her hit single "I Don‘t Know My Name." The EP reached #8 on the Billboard 200 chart, an incredible feat for a new artist.
In 2017, Grace released her first full-length album Just the Beginning, which debuted at #24 on the Billboard 200. Songs like "Moonlight" and "Sick of Being Told" highlighted her growth as a singer-songwriter. She supported the album with her first headlining tour across the U.S. and Canada.
Grace continued releasing EPs and singles over the next few years, exploring more pop elements while retaining her folk roots. She won numerous awards, including Radio Disney‘s Best New Artist in 2016, and became the youngest person to win a Billboard Music Award for Best New Artist in 2017.
In 2021, Grace left Columbia Records and signed with Simon Cowell‘s label Syco Music and Republic Records. She released her second full-length album Discoveries to critical acclaim. The album reflects her transition into adulthood with introspective lyrics on songs like "Don‘t Assume What You Don‘t Know" and "Wonderfully Made."
That same year, Grace made her acting debut playing the lead role of Stargirl in the Disney+ film based on the YA novel. Her rendition of "Today and Tomorrow" for the movie soundtrack reached #1 on the Billboard Kids Digital Song Sales chart.
Most recently in 2022, Grace released her melancholic single "freshman year" and announced she‘s working on new music. She also published her first book of poetry titled "Not Your Average Girl" giving fans an intimate look into her inner thoughts and feelings.
Musical Style and Influences
Grace VanderWaal has created a unique musical style that she calls "offbeat folk pop." Her music often blends laidback folk elements like acoustic guitar and ukulele with subtle pop stylings.
Some of Grace‘s biggest influences include Twenty One Pilots, Bleachers, and Hayley Williams. You can hear these inspirations come through in her introspective lyrics and indie-pop leanings. However, Grace adds her own twist to the mix through her ukulele playing and breathy vocals.
While Grace‘s early work was characterized by minimalist production, she has since incorporated more layers of synthesizers, bass, percussion, and vocal effects. But the emotional honesty and catchy melodies that drew fans to her music from the beginning remain at the core.
Why We Love Grace VanderWaal
There are so many reasons Grace VanderWaal has become a fan favorite over the past few years. Here are just a few of the key factors that make her such a lovable artist:
- Her Singing Voice – Grace possesses a light, airy voice reminiscent of a Disney princess. Her delicate vocals are instantly recognizable and pair perfectly with her acoustic leanings.
- Her Songwriting – Grace writes poetic lyrics tackling themes like growing up, heartbreak, and self-esteem from a teen perspective. Her candor and maturity as a songwriter are rare for someone so young.
- Her Individuality – Grace has never been afraid to be herself. From her funky fashion sense to her offbeat musical style, she embraces her uniqueness. She inspires fans to do the same.
- Her Multi-Instrumental Skills – Though known for ukulele, Grace also plays guitar, piano, bass, and drums. Her musicianship at such a young age is incredible.
- Her Charisma – Whether in interviews or on stage, Grace radiates charm and charisma. Her funny, down-to-earth personality shines through.
For a teenager who rocketed to fame off of one viral TV performance, Grace VanderWaal has handled the pressures of stardom remarkably well. She remains grounded in her songwriting and true to her artistic vision. The sky‘s the limit for Grace as she continues nurturing her creativity and connecting with listeners worldwide.
Fun Facts About Grace VanderWaal
- Grace was born in Kansas but later moved to Suffern, New York.
- She has an older sister named Olivia and a dog named Frankie.
- She was homeschooled before pursuing music full-time.
- Grace is a passionate philanthropist and works with organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
- She taught herself how to play the ukulele in only three months by watching YouTube videos.
- Grace is a talented artist and loves painting and drawing.
- She has stated that Twenty One Pilots are her biggest musical inspiration.
- Grace is an avid reader and some of her favorite books are The Perks of Being a Wallflower and I‘ll Give You the Sun.
- She‘s a cat lover and hopes to adopt more cats after getting her own place.
- Grace has synesthesia and sees colors when she hears music.
The Future Looks Bright for Grace VanderWaal
It‘s hard to believe Grace VanderWaal is still just a teenager with her entire career ahead of her. After breaking out at only 12 years old, she has continued to mature into a gifted musician with star power.
Now firmly in control of her musical direction, Grace seems primed for even bigger success. Her second full-length album Discoveries showed major growth while still retaining her signature sound. And her acting skills in Stargirl revealed her potential in TV and film as well.
As she moves forward, Grace will likely continue blending pop, folk, and indie influences into her own unique style. But whatever sound she explores next, one thing is certain – Grace VanderWaal has developed a deeply authentic artistry at a remarkably young age. Her ability to turn her feelings into beautifully resonant songs will ensure her music stands the test of time.
At just 19, Grace has already built an impressive career. We can‘t wait to see the magic she creates as she enters her twenties and beyond. The best is surely yet to come from this one-of-a-kind talent.