America, meet Grace VanderWaal. The 12-year-old from Suffern, New York became a viral sensation after her America’s Got Talent audition aired on Tuesday. Armed with nothing more than a ukulele and a microphone, the sixth grader wowed judges with a stunning performance of “I Don’t Know My Name,” a song she wrote herself, prompting Simon Cowell to call her “the next Taylor Swift.”
The video has already amassed nearly 10 million views on YouTube, making VanderWaal an overnight sensation. Rolling Stone caught up with the rising star just one day after the episode aired, to find out how she’s been handling her sudden fame.
"[The reaction] is very great but it gets kind of confusing," she said. “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."
VanderWaal’s social media accounts have also gone nuclear, a byproduct of her newfound stardom that she can totally get used to. "I was just like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is what [being] a famous person is like!'"
As for that now famous comparison to another singer-songwriter, VanderWaal is taking it in stride. “Hopefully one day I will be as successful as her," she said. But despite the obvious parallels to Swift, it’s Katy Perry that VanderWaal wants to model her career after. "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."
Download Taylor Swift's greatest hits here and let us know if you think Grace VanderWaal has what it takes to follow in Swift's footsteps.