Grace VanderWaal became a household name when she won the eleventh season of ‘America’s Got Talent’, but what was her first song?
Grace VanderWaal began to pen lyrics and write songs at an early age, uploading them to her YouTube channel, and sang her original song ‘I Don’t Know My Name’ for her audition for ‘America’s Got Talent’. The song was later released with Columbia Records as her first official single.
Read on to learn more about the young singer’s journey to becoming a musician and her early music.
Finding Her Voice
Grace VanderWaal’s music and image has matured with age, but her passion for creating has never wavered.
Grace grew up listening to an eclectic mix of music, ranging from 80s pop to gospel, and was inspired to pick up the ukulele, her signature instrument, after falling in love with its sound and look.
Born January 15, 2004 in Kansas City, but raised in New York, she began to connect music and lyrics at the age of 3, and told Guitar Girl Magazine, “I was basically singing stories – not literally writing. I would make up a story in my head and sing it out”.
Whilst intrigued by the instrument, she only decided she had to get one after seeing Twenty One Pilots singer Tyler Joseph do a cover with one, according to People Magazine.
She told The Daily Beast, “I saved up the money from my 11th birthday and went out and bought one for myself”.
Once she got her hands on one, Grace began to learn how to cover songs by watching YouTube videos, before teaching herself how to play chords.
It wasn’t long before Grace was uploading her own content to the site, having begun to properly concentrate on her songwriting.
Whilst Grace’s dream had been to audition for American Idol, she was a few years too young for the show and it was her Mom who signed her up for America’s Got Talent, where she promptly went viral.
‘I Don’t Know My Name’
Grace’s first audition for the reality TV show made her an instant hit, especially as she performed an original song.
She’d considered performing a cover – Vance Joy’s ‘Riptide’ was a contender – but ultimately decided to go with her song ‘I Don’t Know My Name’.
Grace told Teen Vogue that she wrote the song when she “was doing math homework and I still remember the date. And I just came up with the tune, and then I put words to it. And then I came up with the plot of it and then that made it easier for lines, and then it was just born!”.
She received the coveted golden buzzer for her performance and whizzed ahead to the live rounds.
She told Rolling Stone that the song is about “different phases and styles and friendships” and that it’s also about how “this is who I want to be and this is what I want my life path to be”.
Grace continued to perform her original songs on the show and was eventually announced the season’s winner, which ushered in her burgeoning commercial career.
After signing with Columbia Records in September 2016, ‘I Don’t Know Your Name’ was released as her debut official single on November 18, 2016.
The song, which has been described as an “emotional, catchy, quirky tune”, peaked at number 37 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Listen to the singer’s debut single, ‘I Don’t Know My Name’, in the YouTube video below.
Grace’s confidence has grown since ‘America’s Got Talent’ and so has her personality, and she’s been acknowledged as the ‘quirk queen’.
With a leading role in a Disney movie and tours with Florence and The Machine and Imagine Dragons under her belt, Grace VanderWaal is firmly on the path to continued success.