Wheelchair-Bound Singer Inspires Everyone On ‘American Idol’ To Follow Their Dreams


Marna Michele was born with a disability called Arthrogryposis which causes her to have weak muscles and stiff joints. She cannot walk or move her arms above her head. Marna uses a wheelchair to get around and wanted to show at her American Idol audition that people should follow their dreams no matter what.

Wheelchair-Bound Singer Marna Michele Inspired Judges On ‘American Idol’

The secretary lives a normal life and said that she can do everything her parents never expected her to do like drive, cook and clean. Growing up she never really knew or saw anyone that looked like her or was in a wheelchair just like her. Her leg braces made her feel a personal connection to the movie character Forrest Gump.

Marna came to American Idol in Season 18 to be an inspiration for little kids watching at home that are looking for representation. When she was 12 years old she realized she was good at singing and decided to pursue it. Marna told the judges that she can’t give them high fives but she can give them fist bumps. Katy Perry shot out of her chair and ran up to Marna to give her a fist bump. She sang “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga.


“You’ve got an incredible range, I just want you to have a little more cry in your voice” Luke Bryan said. Lionel Richie suggested that Marna concentrate more on the storytelling aspect of the song instead of rushing into the high note.

She made it through to Hollywood where she performed in the Singer-Songwriter category of the Genre Challenge. She sang “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley. Though Marna was a fan-favorite coming into the night, she had some stiff competition against artists like Arthur Gunn and Julia Gargano. She was eliminated from the competition.

Where Is She Now?

After appearing on American Idol, Marna has continued to be an inspiration for so many people around the world. She founded CrippledIsBeautiful.com, a site where disabled women can share their stories. Marna also just released an original song called “Lightning.”

She got engaged to her boyfriend who accompanied her to her American Idol audition. “I hope one day we have the ability to raise little humans, whether they come from us or not, and we can spread kindness and acceptance and awareness through them,” she wrote on Instagram.

Marna is one of the inspirational contestants we have seen totally slay their audition over the years. Several other contestants have also shown us that just because they are in a wheelchair does not mean their life has any limits. Check out the video below featuring wheelchair-bound acts like Marna who moved the world with theirs stories.

Marna took part in model Tess Holliday’s campaign called “EFF YOUR BEAUTY STANDARDS.” It’s all about inclusion and body positivity. “All these humans are fierce, powerful and truly kind magical beings. I’m honored to be apart of this” she wrote on Instagram.


Marna is truly inspiring and continues to use her platform to push how important inclusion is for everyone.


Samantha Agate
Samantha Agate

Samantha Agate is a contributor and host for Talent Recap on YouTube. She graduated from Hunter College in 2019 with a degree in Media Studies and a Concentration in Journalism. When she isn't binge-watching reality television shows or binge-eating fried food, she loves hanging out with her friends and family and petting puppies.

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