She did it! Grace VanderWaal was crowned the season 11 winner of America’s Got Talent on Wednesday, September 14. The 12-year-old first impressed the judges when she sang an original song during her audition back in June.
“She doesn’t sound like a little girl, she doesn’t sing little-girl songs,” judge Heidi Klum told Us Weekly following the finale. “She’s so pure, whatever comes from her heart to the pen to the paper is so special.”
The New York native performed her audition tune, “I Don’t Know My Name,” which she wrote, again during Wednesday night’s live broadcast — with her ukulele.
“I think she’s special in what she writes. There’s only so few people that pop up now and then that really make a difference, and she will make a difference in music 100 percent,” Klum, 43, added.
Fellow judge Simon Cowell knew VanderWaal was a star from the start. Following her audition, he called her the next Taylor Swift. “Honestly, a lot — all celebrities have flack and stuff around them, but what it all comes down to is that they’re all amazing musicians that all write amazing songs,” VanderWaal told Us of the comparisons. “To even have someone think about comparing me to someone like that is just truly a blessing.”
Spice Girls’ Mel B, however, thinks the young singer is a unique talent. “She’s in her own lane,” she told Us. “She’s only 12 years old, and she’s an amazing songwriter.”
Cowell, 56, thinks that VanderWaal has a bright future too. “There’s no question about this girl is a smart girl. She’s connected with people. I think when you’re that age and you want to be a pop star, you gotta have trust,” he told Us. “She finished her performance and I went up to her and I said, ‘Not many people I trust in this world, but I trust you.’ What she did tonight was incredible.”
Watch VanderWaal’s performance and being named the AGT winner in the videos above!