There’s a reason that America’s Got Talent winners are often singers. Music is generally a crowd pleaser and standout singers don’t have to keep doing bigger and bolder tricks in the same ways that magicians and stuntmen often have to do to stay on the show. Still, at this point we’ve seen a lot of singers come and go, and I wasn’t sure there would be one singer who wowed me this season, until this week, when 12-year-old Grace VanderWaal showed up. You can check out her first performance, below.



The cute middle school-aged girl seemed a little bashful at first. She also seemed very small on the huge America’s Got Talent stage, holding her ukulele nervously. We’d just seen an 82-year-old man scream out the lyrics to “Let the Bodies Hit The Floor,” so the expectations for Grace VanderWaal weren’t particularly high. Then, she started singing and her voice was just incredible.

America’s Got Talent loves to throw the audience for curveballs. Sometimes individuals you think are going to be great are terrible or flat-out weird and sometimes competitors who look as if they’ll be terrible are really good. (An example of the latter would be The Regurgitator.) Honestly, I didn’t expect either of those things from Grace VanderWaal. I thought the cute 12-year-old would get through her nervousness and would probably deliver a solid 7/10 performance. What I didn’t expect was for her to have such a lovely and unique voice. She’s clearly one of the best things we’ve see so far in Season 11, and she wrote her own music, to boot.

Eventually, Grace VanderWaal finished singing her original and the audience exploded into applause. All four of the judges stood up from their seats to clap. Then, Howie Mandel went a step further and used his golden buzzer to push Grace through to the next round in the competition, calling her "original" and "a miracle." Of course, Howie Mandel has a penchant for being overly positive about contestants, but what he said at least has a grain of truth to it. Grace VanderWaal is talented. Like really, really talented.

It's too soon to tell if Grace VanderWaal will be able to keep this up for the rest of the competition, but we at least know for certain that she will be moving forward to the live show. You can catch Grace and the other competitors who are moving forward when new episodes of America's Got Talent air on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET, only on NBC. In addition, you can check out what else the networks have coming up this summer with our TV premiere schedule.

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