That “Wow” moment. We all remember it. Grace Vanderwaal’s golden buzzer audition was just such a moment. It has been viewed on YouTube over 82 million times. That defining moment when so many people claimed that a star was born, including Simon Cowell himself. Simon, I respectfully disagree. The golden buzzer was an important moment when we all discovered Grace, however, it is not the moment when we can rightfully claim that a star was born.

There have been two musically distinctive “wow” moments in my life, early on discovering RUSH and more recently discovering Grace. It is an addictive experience which I continually seek out. In typical fashion my YouTube explorations eventually lead me to Grace videos. I have enjoyed all of her videos including the professional music videos, lyric videos, behind-the-scenes videos and live concert footage. NOTE: Love the RedBull ACL1, but we need a professional concert DVD asap. As always, I’m am particularly struck by the home made, raw videos of Grace singing a new song for the first time, particularly the (first 3 in my list) remaining unreleased songs.

1. “12 stars”
2. “The Good Just Gets Better”
3. “Miss You”
4. “I’ll hold your hand” – becomes renamed Beautiful Thing
5. “Gossip Girl”
6. “Just a Crush”

After watching the above videos, you too will understand. These are truly the purest examples of a star being born, and it happened before our very eyes. Just Grace and her ukulele. Words are lost to me as I experience these videos again and again. Grace is so enamored with her own passion, as if in self-discovery of her own talent, that she is bursting forth with unrelenting emotion to convey her songs to the world. It is obvious that she just cannot contain her unbridled enthusiasm, and it’s very contagious.

They are raw, unedited, the audio isn’t the greatest, and she’s often wearing just a sweatshirt, donut ears and PJ’s. Yet, we are left speechless and dumbfounded after their viewing. How is this possible? We realize suddenly that Grace is special and we are shocked at our discovery. We are witness to a genuinely talented person with uniquely gifted qualities. We are captivated in the moment.

First off, we are stuck with the fact that she can absolutely shred a ukulele. Her playing on the lesser used instrument is tactful and skillful. She is able to weave the harmonics and melodies beautifully with the lyrics. Her use of dynamics, volume, pace, strumming, plucking and progression defies her age. Inevitably, you marvel at her skill and it is what first draws you in, until she begins to sing.

Many artists have a beautiful voice but few have a distinctive voice. Grace’s voice is unique and memorable. She showcases her vocal ability in these raw videos. On display, is quiet sweetness, great tone, vibrato, range (with friendly peaking voice cracks) and power. The resulting mixture of her voice and that enticing melody playing on the ukulele is highly addictive. Understandably, you are spellbound but then you interpret the lyrics within the song, and you are left stunned.
Many artists can sing music while playing an instrument that’s true, but few actually write their own lyrics. Grace’s own original lyrics ultimately form the perfect trifecta in our discovery. Her playing, singing and writing is a result of the perfect creative environment and her ability to harness her dream machine. She has demonstrated that pure talent will prevail. These are the defining moments that will be remembered. It is fate that led her to the golden buzzer win, but a star was already born.

This article was first posted on VanderVault’s YouTube channel: