In June the name Grace VanderWaal was unknown to everyone outside of her family and friends. After Wednesday night that is no longer the case.
The 12-year-old singer, songwriter, and ukulele player from Suffern won “America’s Got Talent.” VanderWaal first captured everyone’s attention in June with the performance of her original song “I Don’t Know My Name.” Three months later, she is the winner.
The first hour and 30 minutes of the results show featured performances and appearances from all the finalists, often accompanied by other acts. When VanderWaal took the stage she performed “I Don’t Know My Name” on the show for the first time since June before introducing rock icon Stevie Nicks, who performed “Landslide.”
Afterward Nicks gave her own endorsement of VanderWaal.
“She reminds me a lot of me,” Nicks said afterward, describing them both as a bit quirky and a little weird. “And she’s got it, she’s got that,” before adding that VanderWaal is going to the top.
However things got serious in the final 30 minutes of the show when the field was cut in half. In typical AGT fashion two acts were presented side-by-side before it was revealed which one advanced.
In VanderWaal’s case she stood beside Sofie Dossi, a contortionist and aerialist who had twisted into a human pretzel and hung from a hoop with the back of her neck while suspended roughly 20 feet in the air earlier in the show; it was VanderWaal’s whose name was called.
Shortly thereafter two of the final fives acts were eliminated from contention: first it was Sal Valentinetti, the Sinatra-esque crooner from Long Island, who placed fifth. Then another singer, Brian Justin Crum, finished fourth.
And then there were three: NFL magician John Dorenbos, VanderWaal, and mentalist pair The Clairvoyants. Dorenbos was the next to go, finishing third and leaving VanderWaal in the top two.
She broke into tears after hearing her name called as fireworks went off in the background. Host Nick Cannon asked if they were tears of joy.
“Yes, of course,” she managed to force out.
Judge Howie Mandel joined VanderWaal on stage and gave her a hug. VanderWaal was his golden buzzer choice, and he predicted earlier in the season that “we’re all going to remember the moment in years to come when we saw Grace sing live for the first time.”
VanderWaal is the winner of a $1 million prize and will headline a Las Vegas show on Oct. 27, 28, 29 at Planet Hollywood. She will also appear on the “Today” show Thursday morning.
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