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HOME > America's Got Talent > America's Got Talent 11

'America's Got Talent' prodigy Grace VanderWaal talks newfound fame after Howie Mandel hits "Golden Buzzer"

By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 06/09/2016 

America's Got Talent has discovered "the next Taylor Swift," according to judge Simon Cowell, and that person is 12-year-old Grace VanderWaal.

"Hopefully one day I will be as successful as her," VanderWaal told Rolling Stone of Swift on Wednesday.

During Tuesday night's AGT episode, VanderWaal took the stage with her ukulele and sang an original, quirky song called "I Don't Know My Name," which she wrote while doing her homework one day, that stunned the judges and audience.

The performance was enough for judge Howie Mandel to strike "The Golden Buzzer," which will advance her straight through to the live shows during which she'll compete for home viewer votes.

VanderWaal, a spunky sixth grader from Suffern, NY, auditioned for the show back in March, and now that her performance has aired on television, she is experiencing a whirlwind of emotions.

"[The reaction] is very great but it gets kind of confusing," VanderWaal, who attended class like a normal student the day after AGT's episode aired, told Rolling Stone.

"I used to sit alone at lunch with only Caroline, and now all these people are coming. I don't know if they genuinely want to be my friend or they want to be the girl from America's Got Talent's friend."

Not only that, but VanderWaal's social media has blown up with comments and her phone with congratulatory texts and calls.

"I was just like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is what [being] a famous person is like!'" she noted.

VanderWaal also reportedly plays the alto saxophone and piano. She's been writing her own songs for a while now and hopes to perform them when America's Got Talent goes live in August.

"I'm more confident to show my songs," said VanderWaal, whose mother signed her up to audition for AGT without telling her. "This entire experience has been such a confidence booster, and now I'm posting on YouTube."

Her biggest inspiration? The talented Katy Perry.

"She's always stayed the same," VanderWaal explained of Perry's appeal. "In her movie she said that she turned down some producers just to be herself and that could've been putting her entire career in jeopardy, but she still did it. I think that's a good thing to remember."

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