It’s rare to hear Simon Cowell call a performer “extraordinary,” but he used that exact word to describe X Factor USA contestant Rion Paige in 2013. The 13-year-old shared her inspiring story and went on to wow the judges with her voice.
Rion has a congenital condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, and is also blind in her right eye. Because of how her hands are curved, Rion says she had to “learn how to do things differently.”
Rion Paige Impresses The ‘X Factor’ Judges
“I just want the judges to not take pity or think of me as different,” Rion shared before her audition. Her mom was there to support her and tell her, “It’s your time to fly, baby.”
Rion showed off her bubbly personality as soon as she stepped on stage. “You are so cute,” judge Demi Lovato declared. Rion shared that she “stayed up too late” watching Demi in Camp Rock.
For her X Factor audition, Rion sang Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away,” showcasing her powerhouse voice. The judges and audience gave her a standing ovation as her family cheered her on backstage.
What Did The Judges Think Of Rion’s Audition?
X Factor judge Demi Lovato said she was “so impressed,” sharing, “I cannot believe the struggles that you’ve had, and how positive you are. I think everybody in this room can learn something from you today.”
“I just witnessed passion,” Kelly Rowland told Rion. “Everything about you is just so incredible.” Simon Cowell agreed, saying Rion is “extraordinary” and “a beautiful person.” Rion’s mom could be seen crying backstage as she heard the judge’s glowing critique.
“I remember the first day I met Carrie Underwood, and I remember predicting this girl was gonna go on and do special things with her life,” Simon said. “And I’m gonna say the same thing about you, Rion. I’m gonna remember this audition for a long, long time.”
Rion received four “yes” votes to move on, with Simon saying it was “the easiest yes I have ever given anyone in my life.” The young singer ended up placing fifth in the competition, after being mentored by Demi Lovato.
These days, Rion is attending college at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, studying social work. She released a self-titled EP in 2015, and you can currently see her singing videos on TikTok or follow her on Instagram.