Grace VanderWaal: Born 2004

As the season 11 winner of America’s Got Talent, 12-year-old Grace VanderWaal captivated the US with her rich vocals and ethereal skills on the ukulele. Performing all original music, VanderWaal inspired countless young women to not only sing and create, but to pick up a ukulele and play. Because of this impact on young women, in 2017, Fender created a signature Grace VanderWaal ukulele that was released in 2018, making VanderWall the youngest Fender artist to ever have a signature instrument.

Showing interest in music at an early age, VanderWaal played saxophone in the school band and taught herself how to play the ukulele at 11 years old, only a year prior to her appearance on AGT. Along with learning the uke, VanderWaal began composing her own music and playing at local open mic nights. This experience is what led her to a successful 2016 audition for America’s Got Talent, where she performed her original composition, “I Don’t Know My Name.” Following her win, VanderWaal signed to Columbia Records and released her EP, Perfectly Imperfect, which debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 chart. Soon after, she headed back into the studio and released the full-length album, Just the Beginning in 2017.

Her list of live performances includes the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Madison Square Garden, the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games, and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. In addition to headlining her own tours, VanderWaal has opened for Imagine Dragons and Florence and the Machine. She also made her acting debut in 2020 as Susan Caraway in the Disney+ musical, Stargirl.

Grace VanderWaal won the 2017 Radio Disney Music Award for Best New Artist. She’s been named in Billboard Magazine’s 21 Under 21 list and is the youngest person to be included in the Forbes 30 Under 30 music list. In the present day, VanderWaal continues to develop as an artist and release music that keeps her fans coming back for more. Though also a guitarist, VanderWaal will be remembered for her connection to the ukulele and showcasing to millions what a young girl with a uke in her hands is capable of achieving.

Written by Victoria Shaffer

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