Twelve years ago, Kechi Okwuchi was one of only two survivors in a Nairobi plane crash that killed 107 people, including her best friend. Next week, she will compete as a semi-finalist in “America’s Got Talent.”
When she first emerged on stage at the start of the season, Okwucki sang an Ed Sheeran song and earned a standing ovation from the judges and audience. The 28-year-old progressed through the season as a fan favorite.
During her most recent performance, judge Simon Cowell told her that “When we first saw you, you were shy. Tonight, you came out as the person you always wanted to be with your song choice and your performance. You are an adorable person. You are also an inspiration.”
Although she survived, the plane crash did not leave Okwuchi unscathed. Over 65 percent of her body was covered in burns, which necessitated over 100 different surgeries.
In an interview with Parade, Okwuchi talked about her respect for the show, saying, “It is the perfect platform for someone like me who, I feel, has a story to tell and to show people that just because I’m a burn survivor, my life doesn’t have to end.”
She also spoke about how surviving a plane crash turned her into a better singer. Okwuchi said her voice changed significantly after the crash, and with the help of music therapy, she trained and worked her singing voice more. However, throughout the past 12 years, her singing education was mostly self-taught.
Okwuchi said that if she wins the competition, she will use the prize money to reunite her family, who are spread across Nigeria, London, Switzerland, and America.
“America’s Got Talent” airs on NBC Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET.