Rion Paige may have a different way of spelling her name, but it’s probably one you should get used to. That’s because the spunky 13-year-old country singer brought the “X Factor” judges to their feet Wednesday with her rendition of a Carrie Underwood song.
Besides a solid voice and a special name, Paige is unique for another reason: She has a rare disease that has left her wrist joints deformed and she’s almost completely blind in her right eye. But you’d never know it from her attitude.
“I have arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, which is basically a whole bunch of words to describe something simple,” she said with about as much energy as an F-5 tornado.
Rion Paige (Source: YouTube screen shot)
“Ever since I was little I would just sort of find a way to get to a microphone,” she explained to producers. “I would put it in between my knees, and try to get it into my foot, and put it in my mouth.”
Still, she admitted she does get frustrated at times, but music helps her “explain her feelings.”
But don’t think she wants any pity for having physical struggles.
“I just don’t want the judges to take pity or think of me as different,” she said.
Then she let it rip:
The judges loved it.
“Rion, I’m just so impressed with you right now and I cannot believe the struggles you have had and how positive you are,” judge Demi Lovato said after her, her counterparts, and the audience couldn’t help but giver her a standing ovation. “I think everybody in this room can learn something from you today.”
And yes, even Simon Cowell was moved.
“I think you’re literally extraordinary,” he said. “I really do.”
Paige is a bit of a local celebrity in her hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. In fact, there’s even a YouTube video from 2012 showing her belting out Adelle on the local news:
There are also plenty of other videos of her talent on YouTube:
Last summer she even won a local country singing competition. It’s not hard to see why.