In a music business climate that has historically seen young talents chewed up and spit out in rapid manner, the amount of respect that Grace VanderWaal — winner of the 11th season of NBC's "America's Got Talent" — is being shown is a refreshing change of pace for a young woman still relatively new to performing on the big stage.
Only 14 years old, VanderWaal already finds herself on a major tour that will take her cross-country, performing in front of audiences in nearly every major city in America. She's opening for electropop group Imagine Dragons ("Radioactive") on July 5 at Raleigh's Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek.
This, despite only having one full-length album release to her name (2017's "Just the Beginning"), which fell short of cracking the Billboard 200 chart's Top 20. All three singles released from the record — "Moonlight", "Sick of Being Told" and "So Much More Than This" — failed to make a dent, as well.
But VanderWaal's talent may not lie solely in the Top 40 radio format. Her skills as a songwriter and performer already were apparent in her preteen years. Now she seems primed to conquer other facets of the entertainment world.
The agency IMG Models Worldwide, who also represent such names as Gal Gadot ("Wonder Woman") and tennis champion Maria Sharapova, has signed the singer to a modeling contract that has already seen her star in an ad campaign for Kate Spade. She also reportedly beat out 700 other girls for the starring role in the upcoming Disney feature "Stargirl," an adaptation of the young adult novel written by Jerry Spinelli, which is slated to be one of the first original films to be released on the company's new streaming service.
So with all of that in mind, here are some examples of why VanderWaal continues to be considered a future force to be reckoned with in the world of entertainment.
1. Arguably the only real 'AG'T success story
Okay, there is a reason that I threw the word "arguably" in there, as a case could be made for Terry Fator. The 'AGT'- winning ventriloquist signed a five-year, $100 million contract with The Mirage hotel and casino in Las Vegas shortly after cameras stopped rolling on the second season of the show, but truthfully, when was the last time you heard someone mention his name?
No, VanderWaal is actually "AGT"'s greatest chance at having an actual breakout star develop from being on their show, something that has become nearly impossible for reality competition winners since the heyday of "American Idol." With two albums already under her belt, she is showing a tremendous amount of creativity for an artist her age, as well as a versatility when it comes to subject matter. In other words, even if the pop world doesn't embrace her just yet, she won't be reaching for a puppet to perform onstage any time soon.
2. She did it her way
At 12 years old, VanderWaal stood in front of America and sang her own songs, during a competition that saw her music up against contestants covering a group of artists that ranged from Frank Sinatra ("That's Life") to Lady Gaga ("Born This Way"). The finale saw her face off against the actual cast of Jersey Boys ("Oh What a Night") , and she still came out on top, performing her own original music.
3. The kids haven't forgotten her
After her "AGT" win, she went on to receive accolades from two televised award shows, when she was named 2017's Best New Artist at the Radio Disney Music Awards and Next Big Thing (Music) at the Teen Choice Awards that same year. Why would those two wins be deemed important? They are both fan voted, which means that she wasn't immediately forgotten by fans after winning a singing competition. Also, her Radio Disney win is sandwiched between the names Charli XCX (2015), Kelsea Ballerini (2016), and Bebe Rexha (2018); there are worse female vocalists to find yourself grouped with, commercially.
Who: Imagine Dragons with Grace VanderWaal
When: 7 p.m. July 5
Where: Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, 3801 Rock Quarry Road, Raleigh
Cost: Sold out
Info: LiveNation.com or (919)831-6400