“Light the Sky” means a lot to me, personally, on many levels, but chief among them is that it’s the song that introduced me to Grace.

I was in a pretty dark place in the summer of 2016. My wife’s chronic illness had degenerated so quickly and badly the year before that I had to take a 2-year leave of absence from work I was so overwhelmed and stressed out; a consequence of which saw us lose our dream house that we’d only purchased in 2014, our car, and we’d been forced to move into a small apartment, the walls of which, at least acoustically, might as well have been constructed of parchment.

While my wife slept in the bedroom one hot day in August, I booted up my old computer, went to YouTube to see what was going viral that day and saw a “thumbnail” image of a little girl with a strange hairdo and a quirky outfit lit by a pretty elaborate stage design and thought, “what on Earth is this all about?”

“America’s Got Talent” Grace VanderWaal WOWs Judges with Original Song “Light the Sky”

What a name… like a movie star from the 50s. The last time I had seen anything from AGT had been Jackie
Evancho’s videos on YouTube, and I was reluctant to click on it thinking that this might be some kind of copy-cat act…so I didn’t.

The next day that same video popped up again, and again (it was trending). Sighing, I gave in, manoeuvred my mouse to point at the video, clicked on it, and changed my life.

 
It’s nearly two years later now and I’m back at work, living in a house again, but still struggling to cope with the aftermath of what had happened to us financially, and my wife’s health continues to deteriorate. The difference now, however, is that I have been given a tether I did not have before; hope, and the promise that the world is not all doom and gloom, that there are good people in this world, and that life is worth the struggle.

My creative side, having been long since buried under an avalanche of self-pity and depression, gradually began to germinate and within the first year after clicking on Grace’s performance of “Light The Sky”, a song about allowing yourself to shine, it has not only established strong roots, but has burst through the ground and is soaring ever higher every month. I not only started writing again thanks to Grace, and helped create the VanderVault, but I’m now developing marketing strategies, doing graphic design and editing videos, not only for the Vault, but for other clients as well; trying to help them flourish, lending a hand to see their creativity and art exposed to as many people as possible.

Any song from Grace might have had the same effect, but that it was specifically “Light the Sky” that introduced me to her is pure kismet. It was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.

Thank you, Grace.

“Light the Sky” is all about awakening that inner spark of creativity within each of us, stoking it until burns brighter than the stars. This is a special song, even among Grace’s others, as this one is an artist’s song; an open love letter written to and for Artists.

Grace’s performance of this song on AGT that night was done so lovingly, so purposefully, so patiently, I couldn’t believe she was only 12 years old and that it was an original song. Here was a born storyteller, gifted not only with the ability to write lyrics powerful and beautiful enough to immerse people in the narratives she spins, but a literal voice and sense of timing, drama and charm that only the very best storytellers wield effortlessly.

Let’s dig in to this masterpiece, shall we?

LIGHT THE SKY

Stars, they got nothing on us
I don’t think you understand
Let’s go out and do something we’d never do
Cause I feel like I can do anything when

My head is spinning and my feet off the ground
And I can’t stop dancing like no one’s around
And yeah I think we were born to shine

Cause the stars are dull when they’re compared to you and I
And if people don’t like it then they can close their eyes
Cause we’re not the same and we don’t have to try
Cause we’re brighter than fireflies were gonna light the sky

Ooooh
Ooooh
Ooooh
Ooooh

Light the sky

You and me we stand out of the crowd
Cause we aren’t afraid to let our light out
So trust in me and just have no doubts
Cause we will be tearing through the clouds

Cause my head is spinning and my feet off the ground
And I can’t stop dancing like no one’s around
And yeah I think we were born to shine

Cause the stars are dull when they’re compared to you and I
And if people don’t like it then they can close their eyes
Cause we’re not the same and we don’t have to try
Cause we’re brighter than fireflies we’re gonna light the sky

Ooooh
Ooooh
Ooooh
Ooooh

Light the sky

You and me
Me and you
We will shine through
You and me
Me and you
We will shine

Cause my head is spinning and my feet off the ground
And I can’t stop dancing like no one’s around
And yeah I think we were born to shine

Cause the stars are dull when they’re compared to you and I
And if people don’t like it then they can close their eyes
Cause we’re not the same and we don’t have to try
Cause we’re brighter than fireflies were gonna light the sky

Ooooh
Ooooh
Ooooh
Ooooh

Light the Sky

…………………..

Stars, they got nothing on us
I don’t think you understand

Right away, as always, Grace establishes the ground rules, or the foundation, of what is to follow; “Stars, they got nothing on us”. She may mean this both literally and figuratively twice over. What do I mean? She may be referring to how we (‘us’) shine so brightly that the stars in the sky pale in comparison, or she may mean already established celebrities (“stars”). Remember, she wrote this while on a show designed to showcase talent to a broader audience, her fellow contestants were not yet “stars”, but even though she is competing with them, she is also encouraging them (as is Grace’s habit).

The next line is also what is now typical of her style; “I don’t think you understand”. The second line challenges us, knocks us a little off balance. “Did this little girl just tell me that I don’t understand what she’s saying? Hmm…Maybe she’s right…I better listen a little closer.” Brilliant.

“Let’s go out and do something we’d never do”, she then says, knocking us even further off balance. She just chided us for not getting her, but then she invites us to do something with her that’s out of our comfort zone.

“Cause I feel like I can do anything when…” Cliffhanger-Grace working it again. This line, as Grace herself has said, makes us suspect the next line will be “I’m with you”, but of course, Grace doesn’t give in to such lazy writing. Instead she introduces us, through her own playful phrasing, to the “flow state of consciousness” from which the very best creativity and performance stem.

What am I on about now? First hypnotism and now Flow-State Consciousness? “Mark, you’re really losing it.” Possibly, but hear me out.

For anyone who has ever played a sport competitively, where you’ve invested thousands of hours of practice, you have probably experienced “flow state consciousness”, or as it’s often referred to in sports; “The Zone”. It’s when you don’t have to think, consciously think, about what you’re doing. It’s as though your body is acting and reacting within the framework of destiny and not your competitor, like you’ve tapped into something almost supernatural, like you’re in a dream where everything is going your way and it all feels perfectly natural as though this is the way you were always meant to perform. It’s an elusive thing, “The Zone”, if you acknowledge it while in its throws it will often drift away from you, you must give in to its effortless power, let it become you and you it, or as Grace would say…

“My head is spinning and my feet off the ground
And I can’t stop dancing like no one’s around
And yeah I think we were born to shine”

This is how she feels when she feels like she can do anything, when there are no obstacles to her creativity, and that we can all feel this way if we simply “let go” and experience the dizzying freedom of pure creativity.

Next lines…

“Cause the stars are dull when there compared to you and I
And if people don’t like it then they can close their eyes
Cause were not the same and we don’t have to try
Cause we’re brighter than fireflies were gonna light the sky.”

This is all one thought, building off of the first line of the song that the light of stars is dull compared to her and her listener, and that if people can’t accept how creative and perhaps “weird” they seem to be then those naysayers are free to ignore her and the listener because she will not be beholden to the demands of others how she should behave, and neither should her listener; they’re brighter than fireflies (the naysayers as compared to those like her who shine brighter than the stars themselves). She and the listener will light the sky.

The rest of the song simply seeks to reinforce all that has been established before, building upon the foundations, laying down bricks that will form the walls until she caps the structure with a roof to protect its occupants from the low weather that will surely come…

Stars, they got nothing on us
I don’t think you understand

Thank you, Grace, you’re not only a life saver, but you breathe new life into those who might have thought
it had left them.

This article was first posted on VanderVault’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Yfl9ID8F0g&lc=UgzAzG_qSwJKu4skFhN4AaABAg