When 11-year-old Bianca Ryan graced the stage during the first season of America’s Got Talent in 2006, people could not believe that this adorable little girl had such a big sound! Her exceptional voice propelled her past all of the competitors to capture the winner’s spotlight in the first season of the exciting new reality competition show.
After winning, Ryan was swept up into all of the appearances and duties that accompanied being the victor. But all of those engagements began to take its toll.
“After America’s Got Talent, my life was a total whirlwind. I was touring, I was doing music videos. Then after a few years I noticed my voice just wasn’t working with me,” Ryan told.
She visited an EMT who explained that one of her vocal cords had become paralyzed. She would need surgery and even worse — she might never sing again.
More than a decade later, Ryan was invited to appear on America’s Got Talent: The Champions, where she shared her moving story of joy and fame, followed by heartache and loss. Even more important to Ryan — she was finally able to sing again.
“I have been working a lot the last year and a half to just make this comeback. I lived 12 years in shadows, and I’m ready to see the light again,” she said.
She quivered with nervousness as she returned to the stage once again. She performed “Say Something” by A Great Big World and the audience could not believe how she sounded, especially after everything Ryan had been through.
Even after enduring an intense recovery period following her surgery, Ryan was able to hit some insanely high notes and show how impressive her range still is. When she was done, the audience lauded her with a standing ovation.
The judges also praised Ryan’s performance, knowing fully well how much she suffered. She was the very reason why America’s Got Talent was able to build upon that initial success and become the hit show it is today.
“I think, without you, we may not be sitting here. I’m genuinely thrilled that you’re back… this was a great start for the show,” said Simon Cowell.
Howie Mandel reminisced watching Ryan compete during the first season. He couldn’t believe how far she had come.
“I was wondering what happened to you, and to have these barriers put up and then to have the wherewithal to overcome all that, you really are a champion. In life,” Mandel said.
Mel B shared how she always tells contestants to “take us on a journey.” She told Ryan that she went above and beyond.
“You delivered with the key changes and the soft and the light and the dark. It was just magnificent,” she said.
Heidi Klum shared how happy she was that Ryan’s voice had returned and was amazing. It’s true, Ryan sounds amazing!