It’s not every day that the notoriously critical, Simon Cowell, gives a standing ovation. But this was no ordinary audition and Rion Paige is no ordinary girl.
PHOTOGRAPH BY: XFACTOR USA VIA YOUTUBE
You should remember the name Rion Paige. According to XFactor’s Simon Cowell, you will be hearing it a lot in the very near future. The spunky 13 year old from Jacksonville, Florida wowed the judges and brought them, and the packed audience, to their feet with her rendition of Carrie Underwood’s ‘Blown Away.’
Her talent isn’t the only reason Paige is special, since birth she has suffered from a rare disorder that left her with malformed wrists joints and the loss of vision in her right eye.
“I have arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, which is basically a whole bunch of words to describe something simple,” she said in the same trademark cheerfulness that she discusses most everything.
According to the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM), Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC) is a rare and congenital disease of newborns, resulting in a variety of individualized symptoms that can include, multiple joint contractures, muscle weakness and fibrosis. It is a non-progressive disease, meaning that the lack of movement will not worsen over time.
Despite her personal struggles, Paige said that she wants to be judged on her talent alone.
“I just don’t want the judges to take pity or think of me as different,” she said before the audition.
According to Paige, music has always been a outlet to help express her feelings and, at times, frustrations. But she refuses to allow her diagnosis to keep her from singing the music she loves.
“Ever since I was little I would just sort of find a way to get to a microphone,” she explained to Xfactor producers. “I would put it in between my knees, and try to get it into my foot, and put it in my mouth.”
While her mother, Alisa Thompson, 32, expressed her nervousness at the audition she said that it’s her job as a mother to help her daughter soar.
“I feel like she’s prepared, and it’s not me to hold her back. It’s for me to give her every opportunity and say ‘it’s your time to fly baby, and if not, I’ll be right here to catch you’.”
Fly she did on the Xfactor stage. Cowell called her “simply extraordinary” and compared her to Carrie Underwood, another TV talent competition alum.
“I remember the first day I met Carrie Underwood, and I remember predicting this girl was going to go on and do special things with her life. And I am going to say the same about you Rion,” Cowell said. “I’m going to remember this audition for a long, long time.”
When it came time to decide if Paige would progress to the next stage in competitions, Cowell’s answer was definite. “This is the easiest ‘yes’ I have ever given anyone in my life.”
Paige’s spirit has always been too strong to deny, Thompson explained in an interview with People magazine this week.
“She didn’t walk until she was 2 years old because it was difficult for her to get up straight from the ground without using her hands. But when she did, she ran across the room,” said Thompson. “That was Rion. Nothing has held her back in any way.”
Paige still refuses to be defined by her disability, telling People, “I’m not the girl with the hands. I’m Rion.”