For Kechi Okwuchi, getting to the stage of America’s Got Talent was the easy part.
Okwuchi blew away the audience and judges with her performance of Ed Sheeran’s 2014 single “Thinking Out Loud” on Tuesday night’s episode. But it was the story of her harrowing journey that broke hearts.
As a 16-year-old, the AGT contestant was on board the 2005 Sosoliso Airlines Flight 1145 which crashed over Nigeria, claiming the lives of 107 passengers. Okwuchi was just one of just two survivors.
Two years later, Okwuchi and her family moved to Houston to continue medical treatment for her severe burns. She’s endured more than 100 surgeries since the disaster, but her spirit remains unbowed. Music was her therapy.
“Lying in the hospital bed with bandages from head to foot. Not being able to more or do anything else, music was my escape. And that’s why it means so much to me,” Okwuchi told AGT judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Mel B.
Tears flowed as Okwuchi, now 27, earned a standing ovation from the audience and judges (all of whom gave her a resounding “yes”).
Watch the performance below.