Grace VanderWaal, now 13, was 'so nervous' to return to the 'AGT' stage

Grace VanderWaal made a triumphant return to the America’s Got Talent stage Wednesday night, a year after being crowned the Season 11 champion.

This time, performing her new single Moonlight, she didn’t look like an underdog contestant, but a certifiable “star,” as Howie Mandel, the judge who hit the Golden Buzzer for Grace, put it backstage.

But that’s not how Grace, now 13, felt when she hit the stage.

“Frankie, I’m so nervous!” she said to her puppy (a pug whose full name is Frankenstein), while getting mic’d up and holding his head close to hers.

Although Grace calls performing her favorite part about being a musician these days, that all changes when it comes to the AGT stage. 

“You know when you smell that familiar smell? And it’s that weird feeling in your stomach where you’re trying to remember that smell?” she told USA TODAY at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. “Then it’s just a green air of anxiety just filling out my lungs. That’s what it’s like.”

“It’s gotten scarier” performing there, she said, especially because now she feels she has to prove she deserved the grand prize.

Still, Grace’s performance went off without a hitch as she crooned and danced with her ukulele and sparkly red shoes. She earned a standing ovation from Simon Cowell, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Mandel, and a YouTube video of her performance garnered more than 200,000 views in a matter of a few hours.

But that doesn’t mean Grace was confident right after she sang.

“I’m just praying to God it went well on TV,” she told USA TODAY backstage. 

 

usatoday.com