We had a chance to chat with the most recent Golden Buzzer act this season, now 16-year-old singer Makayla Phillips! She received the Golden Buzzer from America’s Got Talent judge Heidi Klum after singing “Warrior” by Demi Lovato for her audition. Her moving cover of the song, impressive vocals, and confident stage presence make her the total package! So what should we expect from Makayla moving forward? And how did she get to where she is? We spoke to her to find out all that and more!
Talent Recap: Who are your biggest musical influences or inspirations?
Makayla Phillips: I think I’m vocally inspired by Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Whitney Houston…some of the bigger voices. They inspire me a lot to push my limits and to work as hard as I can to get to the places I want to be. Yeah, I would say those are my biggest inspirations. And Kehlani! She’s an amazing songwriter and lyricist and she does all those things amazing.
TR: Yeah, we saw your cover of her song “Honey” on YouTube!
MP: Oh yeah, I covered that one! I love her…a lot.
TR: So what made you decide to audition for America’s Got Talent?
MP: Mostly just because it’s an amazing platform, not only for singers but for dancers, jugglers, it can be anything. Anybody can come on stage and show off their talents, show what they’re made of. I think it’s absolutely incredible.
MP: I already auditioned for American Idol and I also auditioned for The Voice but I was too young for both of them. It was a bummer. But I realized there were so many other choices and I remembered, “Oh my gosh, America’s Got Talent!” I had been watching it forever and I always remembered wanting to be on that stage. After being turned down so many times, it really just lit the fire and made me so excited to run after it.
TR: You said you’ve been watching AGT, do you have any favorite past acts?
MP: Actually, my favorite act is probably Grace VanderWaal. She’s so amazing! The fact that she’s so young and has so much going for her. She’s made it. It really inspired me and made me feel like if she can make it, then I could make it.
TR: Why did you sing “Warrior” for your audition?
MP: The lyrics are just so amazing and they’re so empowering. So many women, and people in general, go through so many emotions. They go through breakups and heartbreaks and all these different things that are just horrible. The lyrics explain everything. The lyrics are exactly how we feel. It spoke to me and made me feel like I could really speak to people through that song. After being turned down, that song definitely inspired me to just go for it. You know, and be a warrior.
TR: How surprised were you when Heidi hit the Golden Buzzer for you?
MP: I did not expect it AT ALL. Not even a little bit. Not even the producers expected it. No one expected it. So many emotions were going through my head at once, it was insane.
TR: Since then, Heidi has done interviews saying she thinks you can win it all. How does that make you feel?
MP: Oh my gosh, I don’t even know how to explain that. I still cannot find the right words to explain how that makes me feel. Just the fact that she’s a supermodel alone is insane! And she’s talking about how I could win the whole show. It’s just insane. She believes in me that much! It makes me feel really cool, I’m not gonna lie.
TR: Now that the auditions are over, who do you feel like your strongest competition is?
MP: I feel like my strongest competition as of now is probably Amanda Mena. Our vocals are similar and our styles are similar. I feel like she’s probably my biggest competition as of right now. She’s awesome, she’s amazing!
TR: What should we expect to see from you the rest of the season?
MP: I’m gonna probably try to do a few different styles maybe. You can definitely see different fashion styles throughout the show if I make it that far. More vocal styles, different things I can do with my voice. I just can’t wait for everyone to see!
TR: Will we be hearing any original songs from you on AGT?
MP: I don’t think that I’d want to do an original song for this show. But I would definitely want to work on writing originals and maybe get them out after the show. I feel like it would be really cool to be working on an album.
TR: What was the inspiration for your original song “Unsung Melody”?
MP: Funny story, I actually wrote that song and I didn’t have any inspiration for that song at all. Actually, I was looking at other people’s relationships and what other people were going through. I kinda took that as song inspiration and wrote the song.
TR: You play guitar on it, do you play any other instruments?
MP: I play ukulele and I’m working on piano but to be honest, I’m not that big on piano. Guitar and ukulele are probably my strong points. And yes, it is pronounced ukulele (“oo koo lay lay”). I found that out. I actually think that’s pretty cool.
TR: Do you want to play either of those on the show?
MP: I’ll probably stick to instrumentals but if I could perform with a live band, that would be amazing! That would be awesome. But I don’t know, I’ll just have to see what the future holds.
And we can’t wait to see exactly what it is that the future holds for this bright young star! Makayla will return to AGT for the live shows.