Watch Rion’s incredible performance & find out more about the medical challenges she’s faced since birth.
No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you; Simon Cowell is actually smiling in this shot from the Sept. 11 season premiere of The X Factor! The notoriously sour judge was completely “Blown Away” by 13-year-old Rion Paige‘s rendition of the Carrie Underwood hit during her audition in Charleston, S.C., and he wasn’t the only one.
The ladies of the panel — Demi Lovato, along with newbies Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio — were all stunned by the teenager’s incredible performance. But there’s more to Rion’s story than just her powerful voice and infectious personality.
Rion’s Painful Medical History Explained
Rion actually suffers from several different medical conditions that have made growing up very difficult for her.
“My hands, like, they’re curved differently because of my joints,” she explained to the judges. “So I have to learn things differently, and I’m almost permanently blind in my right eye.”
Fortunately, she had her mom with her for love and support.
“The fact that Rion’s getting on stage today … makes me nervous,” her mom admitted before her audition. “I feel like she’s prepared, and it’s not [for] me to hold her back. It’s for me to give her every opportunity and say, ‘It’s your time to fly, baby.'”
The Judges Love Rion Paige
“Rion, I’m just so impressed right now, and I cannot believe the struggles that you’ve had and how positive you are,” Demi told her after her audition was over. “I think everybody in this room can learn something from you today.”
Paulina added, “Music heals everything, and I’m honored to live this with you.”
Kelly was also impressed, telling Rion, “I just witnessed passion. I think that’s what I loved the most about it. Everything about you is just so incredible.”
And then came Simon’s final words.
“I think you’re literally extraordinary,” Simon said, at which point the background music swelled to unimaginable new heights.
WATCH: Rion Paige Performs ‘Blown Away’ On ‘The X Factor’
HollywoodLifers, were you as ‘Blown Away’ by Rion as the judges were? Vote for your favorite premiere audition below!
— Andy Swift
More ‘X Factor’ Season 3:
- ‘The X Factor’ Season 3: First Look At Simon Cowell & His Panel Of Ladies
- ‘X Factor’: Kelly Rowland & Paulina Rubio Confirmed As Season 3 Judges
- Fifth Harmony Releases Debut Single ‘Miss Movin’ On’ — Listen