A few weeks ago, the X Factor USA entered its last leg of the audition stage. On September 11th 2013, during Season 3 Episode 1, thirteen-year-old country music artist and Jacksonville native Rion Paige wowed the judges with
her performance. In this episode, two women stood out from the pack: Rion Paige who has been dealing with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (a rare joint defect condition) her entire life, and Lillie McCloud, 54, a mother of 3 kids who kept at her drive to sing, despite her age. Paige burst onto the stage with the unflinching resolve and razor sharp focus that nothing was going stand in the way of her X Factor dream. She reached the top of her artistic peak and greeted Demi Lovato as a stay strong warrior. Warriors are never defined by their past. They are defined by how they deal with the flames of uncertainty. Rion Paige and Lillie McCloud are angels and halos. Whenever we are trapped in twister filled obstacles, these women can teach us the valuable lesson that “nothing is impossible.” Nothing can ever blow us away if we continue to stay strong.
Rion sang Carrie Underwood’s touching Blown Away. In the piece she references Oklahoma and the entire premise of the song centers on the theme rising from the ground up. With Blown Away, the audience felt sympathy and learned that no fate is ever final, even in a Twister. From Rion’s performance, Demi herself was struck with inspiration.
When the judges voted, the first thing Demi said was, “Oh my gosh I am so impressed right now…I think everyone can learn something from you today.” Dreams don’t have to die, as Paige’s performance showed. Superstar dreams, especially related to the X-Factor, are John Legend supernovas waiting to dive into the unchartered waters of determination.
Another audition that touched America’s hearts was Lillie McCloud’s. Her audition showed that age doesn’t matter in fighting for a dream. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida as a native of Rochester, New York. Alabaster Box by Cee-Cee Winan was her song of choice. When she sang it, I felt the voice of God and Heaven’s angels light up my soul. By the time it was over, Demi didn’t even have to think before she voted. She said, “Easiest ‘yes’ I said today in this entire competition.” For McCloud to come so far and for Demi to say that today was her time… most inspirational thing I have ever seen.
In last year’s X-Factor 2012 competition, we had Westchester, New York’s Carly Rose Sonenclar, Janel Garcia, and other Ed Sheeran-like stars. But what makes these stars so unique is their charisma—their abilities to keep doing what they love— singing without caring for the world what people think. A ‘no’ might be the hardest thing to take, but don’t let any of that stop you. Take it from Rion and her Sunshine State roots. Take it from McCloud, a mother of three kids, who supports them through their daily challenges.
We are all human. We all face challenges. Some of us make the cut, some of us don’t. But with each experience, you have on the stage of resilience; whether you beat-box or sing, take them for what they are. I know that today you might not value the outcome, but trust me, trust Demi D. Lovato- a warrior who has been through so much and knows about bullying and fighting illness. She can tell you, “I feel your pain.” What this first episode of the X Factor showed America was that you do not have to be a superstar or Grammy award winning talent to get to your golden Promised Land. We just have to be us. And that’s all there is to it.