When 12-year-old singer-songwriter Grace VanderWaal stepped onto the "America’s Got Talent" stage for her infamous 2016 audition, she had no idea what was in store for her.
VanderWaal was given high praise from the judges, including a notable Taylor Swift comparison from judge Simon Cowell, and the Golden Buzzer from judge Howie Mandel. She went on to win the NBC show’s 11th season, winning $1 million and ultimately landing a recording contract.
After winning "AGT," she wasted no time, releasing her debut EP "Perfectly Imperfect" last December. This brilliant five-track album featured all of her "AGT" hits and was met with much excitement and praise from fans worldwide.
Now, after almost a year, VanderWaal is back with her first-full length album, fittingly titled "Just the Beginning." The album tackles a wide range of scenarios and emotions, well beyond her 13 years, in 12 magnificently crafted tracks.
VanderWaal kicks off the album with her famous summer hit "Moonlight," released as a single in June. Using an upbeat, tropical melody and her ukulele expertise, VanderWaal displays her unique sound in full force, as well as her exceptional songwriting abilities.
The track was a perfect fit for her numerous public performances over the summer, including "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," "Live with Kelly and Ryan," and the show where it all began for her, "America’s Got Talent."
VanderWaal entrances listeners with the pop masterpieces of "Florets" and "City Song," while conveying raw, powerful emotion in "A Better Life" and "Darkness Keeps Chasing Me." It is this vast diversity in her songwriting that makes her stand out as a truly unique and exquisite artist.
Other poppy tunes, including "Insane Sometimes," "So Much More Than This" and "Escape My Mind" round out the album.
Despite her pop prowess and raw vocal talent, VanderWaal is still only a teenager. She cleverly reminds us of this through songs like "Sick of Being Told" and "Just a Crush," to which every teen can surely relate.
With her new tracks now available for the world, VanderWaal has hit the road for her nationwide Just the Beginning Tour. The sold-out tour will take her from coast-to-coast as she shares her heartfelt and passionate music with energetic audiences.
This album is opening a new chapter for VanderWaal, propelling her higher into the mainstream world of pop music. She surely has more to accomplish as an artist, making me hopeful and excited that this is "just the beginning."
Alex Renzoni is a sophomore at Clarence High School.