Grace VanderWaal

$32.00    |  Aug 28, 2019  |  7:30PM

Award-winning singer, songwriter, actress, model, philanthropist, high school freshman—GraceVanderWaal contains incredible multitudes. After her star-making turn as the winner of NBC’sAmerica’s Got Talent in 2016, VanderWaal has released a best-selling EP, Perfectly Imperfect,and full-length album, Just The Beginning, much to the delight of her millions-strong fanbaseand critics alike. Now the New York Times-approved “mature songwriter” and “pop natural” isback with new music for 2019, beginning with a new original song titled “Stray.”“When I write a song, I don't really know what they're about until much later, when I'm like ‘Oh,that's what my subconscious was trying to say,’” says VanderWaal of her creative process,which begins with songwriting and extends to musical arrangements and visual treatments.“Stray,” which comes with a music video dreamt up by VanderWaal and brought to life with helpfrom director Blythe Thomas, eventually revealed itself to be about “the exhilarating fear andfreedom of growing up.” The song features VanderWaal’s soulfully raspy vocals atop a moody,searching sound that’s a departure from her signature airy ukulele riffs.Introspection and vulnerability have always been hallmarks of VanderWaal’s songwriting, andas she grows older, the unique process of balancing stardom and adolescence has made itsway into her work. “I’m maturing really fast and working a lot more, and I feel like when this allfirst started happening, I almost started to forget how to be myself,” she says. “You only get oneyou. You get one shot when you're born, so if you forget, what do you do?” For the time being,the Rockland County-raised phenom is handling it all with aplomb. She’s as excited about herupcoming music as she is about her school’s prom, and plans to work at her local movietheater’s concession stand this summer when she’s not headlining another tour, following astring of sold-out headline shows last spring and a summer arena tour opening for ImagineDragons that she did in 2018.All throughout, VanderWaal shares her day-to-day musings with nearly 10 million fans andcounting via social media. In addition to snapshots, videos, and shoutouts, her fan base canalso keep tabs on Little Miracles, the charity she created with the prize money she won onAmerica’s Got Talent. The Little Miracles Foundation’s mission is to put music education backinto marginalized school systems by spotlighting talented students, and providing free musicalinstruments and audio equipment to local school districts and communities.VanderWaal’s ability to impact so many with her art marks an impressive trajectory from just afew years ago, when the young artist was playing her ukulele and performing original songs atopen mic nights where there were “15 to 20 people on a good night.” While America’s GotTalent was the vehicle that launched her into the national spotlight, VanderWaal says that sheonly auditioned on a whim.“Me and my mom literally thought it would be like a bonding kind of thing,” she explains. “Youalways see on TV the crazy lines and stuff, so we were just going to wait in line, take pictures,bring a tent, and stuff like that—and it just turned into something crazy. It just kept going.”VanderWaal’s astronomical rise has led to accolades (Billboard’s Women in Music 2017 RisingStar Award, Teen Choice Next Big Thing Award, and more), television performances, (TheTonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the Macy’s Thanksgiving DayParade), and incredible partnerships with brands like Kate Spade and Fender, who launched a Grace VanderWaal Signature ukulele, making her their youngest ever Signature artist forFender.In addition to putting the finishing touches on more new music to be released later this year,VanderWaal recently finished filming her first movie in New Mexico, which is set to be releasedin early 2020. An adaptation of Jerry Spinelli’s New York Times best-selling young adult novel,Stargirl, VanderWaal will be playing the film’s title role of Stargirl Caraway, a nonconformist,homeschooled teen girl who plays the ukulele. “It’s all pretty surreal,” she says. “It was so fun,one of the best experiences of my life.” Fans hoping to connect with VanderWaal on the bigscreen before then can catch Wonder Park, Paramount’s new animated feature coming outMarch 15—VanderWaal recorded a song titled “Hideaway” that will make an appearance in thefilm.Add to this a full high school curriculum and it’s clear that VanderWaal is booked and busy forthe foreseeable future, but the three-time Billboard 21 Under 21 artist and youngest person everincluded in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list is taking it all in stride. As she puts it: “You can't think abouteverything in the future right now. You just think about tomorrow. Being on stage and being atschool, it's just two different parts of my personality.”