On the September 11 premiere of The X Factor 2013, Rion Paige totally, um, blew us away with her cover of Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away.” The petite blonde 13-year-old from Jacksonville, Florida, took the stage with a huge smile on her face and a voice so big we might not have noticed her hand malformation if she hadn’t explained it to the judges.
Judge Kelly Rowland was quick to compliment Rion’s “absolutely gorgeous” hair and Demi Lovato told her she’s “so cute.” Simon Cowell may have wanted to ask the question on people’s minds, but instead said “Rion, tell us something interesting about yourself.”
Rion explained of her differently-shaped hands, “I have arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC). It’s basically a whole bunch of words to describe something really simple. My hands are curved differently because of my joints, so I have to learn to do things differently. And I’m almost permanently blind in my right eye.”
Her mom, Alisa, explained that when she was a kid, the doctors pointed out that there was something different with her hands. But Rion says, “I just don’t want the judges to take pity or think of me as different. Every day you have your doubts.”
With her great attitude and super powerful voice, Rion got four yeses, and Simon said it was the easiest yes he’s ever given on the show. That’s high praise, considering he discovered Carrie Underwood on American Idol on Season 4.
So, what exactly is AMC? It is a rare congenital disorder that causes limited motion in certain joints and develops before birth. Its effects can include neurologic deficits, muscle defects, connective tissue and skeletal defects, among others. In Rion’s case, it is her hands that are affected.
But clearly, she’s not letting it hold her back. Simon says he “would love to work with her,” and after seeing her perform, all the judges wanted to take on the Girls category so they could coach her. Heck, if Simon says she’s going to be a star, we believe it.