At the age of 11, Bianca Ryan became the very first winner of America’s Got Talent in 2006. However, the show didn’t bring her the instant fame the young singer expected.
Now, Bianca has returned to compete again. She’s one of 50 contestants on America’s Got Talent: The Champions premiering on NBC Monday Jan 8 at 8 pm. The NBC series will feature the judges panel from America’s Got Talent–executive producer Simon Cowell, Mel B, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel–as well as new host Terry Crews, star of NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
In a sneak peek of Bianca’s audition, featuring a cover of A Great Big World’s “Say Something,” the singer details how her career fell apart in the aftermath of winning the show. “I was touring, I was doing music videos, and then after a few years I noticed my voice wasn’t working.” Bianca went to an ENT who delivered the bad news. Bianca would need surgery to fix a paralyzed vocal cord. What’s more, there was no guarantee that she’d be able to sing afterward.
“It felt like the moment where…it all [came] crashing down on me,” says Bianca. “I had to go to speech therapists to relearn how to speak.” Time out from her career meant losing fans. “I started getting less fan mail, less comments, less views,” she confesses. “I felt like everyone disappeared.”
I have been working a lot the last year and a half just to make this comeback,” says a determined Bianca. “I’m the first winner of America’s Got Talent. I lived 12 years in shadows and I’m ready to see the light again.”
After the singer’s emotional performance, the judges give her a standing ovation.
Watch Bianca Ryan’s America’s Got Talent: The Champions audition of “Say Something” here.