'America's Got Talent' names Grace VanderWaal Season 11 winner over The Clairvoyants
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/15/2016
America's Got Talent named Grace VanderWaal its eleventh-season winner during Wednesday night's live finale broadcast on NBC.
Grace, a 12-year-old singer from Stuffern, NY, won America's Got Talent's grand prize of $1 million and the opportunity to headline a show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas from October 27-29 based on home viewer votes cast following Tuesday night's live performance episode, which had featured the Top 10 finalists each performing once.
Grace is the seventh vocalist to win AGT in its 11 seasons on the air. The young artist and ukulele player broke down into tears as confetti fell from the ceiling, and judge Howie Mandel told Grace she's a "shooting star" who deserved to win.
"It feels like I'm a famous person or something. I'm not, don't worry. I was always afraid that I wasn't a good singer. This entire experience has been amazing. It's changed my life forever, I think," Grace explained in a video that played before AGT host Nick Cannon announced her victory.
Nick disclosed that it was the closest vote in history, as less than one percent of America's vote separated all of the Top 3.
The Clairvoyants, a mind-reading act ages 28 and 29 from Vienna, Austria, finished the show's eleventh season in second place on Wednesday night's finale.
"After performing and auditioning in front of thousands of people, that was the moment when we realized we have to show America what we can do. Our dream is to have our own show in Las Vegas because there is no other show like ours!" Thommy Ten said in a video montage.
"Being here now is really just like a dream," Amelie van Tass noted.
"You start with a dream and at some point, it becomes a reality," Thommy added.
Third place went to Jon Dorenbos, a 36-year-old NFL magician from Humble, TX.
"I auditioned for America's Got Talent to see if when my football career is over... I had a future in magic. Once I realized that America liked my magic, it was the most gratifying feeling I've ever had. It was actually like a burden was lifted off me. The experience... has taught me that in life, it's okay to take chances. Showing up is 90 percent of it. All you have to do is give yourself a chance," Jon said in a video montage.
Brian Justin Crum, a 28-year-old singer from Los Angeles, CA, was next in line.
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"Wow!" Brian was shown mouthing in shock when he learned of his fourth-place finish. "This experience has meant the world to me... and this is just the beginning of more amazing things to come. I can't wait to spend more time with you, America, and the world!"
Sal Valentinetti, a 20-year-old crooner from Long Island, NY, was declared the fifth-place act.
"This has changed my life forever... This is the greatest show on planet Earth. It makes superstars. This is not the end for me. This is the first day of the rest of my life," Sal said.
The finalists who failed to place in the Top 5 were comedian and mime Tape Face; Linkin' Bridge, an A cappella singing group ages 36-41 from Louisville, KY; Sofie Dossi, a 14-year-old contortionist/aerialist act from Cypress, CA; Viktor Kee, a 45-year-old juggler from Orlando, FL; and Laura Bretan, a 13-year-old opera singer from Howell, NJ.
In addition to performances from the Top 10 finalists, AGT's Season 11 finale featured celebrity guests taking the stage such as the Broadway cast of Jersey Boys, iconic singer Stevie Nicks and the group Il Volo.
Nick revealed "tens of millions" of votes poured in Tuesday night, which turned out to be the "biggest vote ever" for America's Got Talent. Judge Simon Cowell also said this was the best season he's probably ever seen because of the caliber of talent and level of competition.