Whether you’re a native of Richmond or a newcomer, there’s one thing you’ve probably already figured out. We love our hometown. It doesn’t matter if you live in the city or in the surrounding counties that make up what is known as the “Greater Richmond area,” you’re still part of the Richmond community. And when “one of our own” does something amazing, we’ll be right there, cheering them on. That’s why when 18-year old Shayla Winn of Midlothian brought the American Idol judges to tears last Wednesday night, you can be certain that her hometown crowd was behind her every step of the way.
Shayla, or Shayy, as she likes to be called, attends the Thomas Dale High School Center for the Arts in Chester. But Shayy is far from your average high school student. Not only does she possess a singing voice that will leave you with chills, but Shayy is also legally blind. Shayy suffers from hydrocephalus, a condition that causes excess fluid on the brain. A year ago, doctors also discovered a tumor that had potentially been there since birth. The combination of these conditions caused Shayy to lose her sight – but not her fighting spirit.
On Wednesday, March 6, Shayy moved forward with one of her greatest dreams and stood in front of American Idol judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan. After telling her story, she launched into a breathtaking performance of Andra Day’s “Rise Up,” a song made all the more emotional because of Shayy’s incredible grace, strength, and refusal to let obstacles stand in the way of her goals.
After repeatedly wiping tears from his eyes during the performance, Lionel Ritchie rose with the other judges to give Shayy a standing ovation and said, “You have wrecked me,” before walking over to embrace the teenager. Clearly emotional, each of the judges took a moment to praise Shayy’s phenomenal talent and joined Ritchie in hugging the girl and her mother who had helped Shayy into the audition room and stood quietly in the background. Luke Bryan acknowledged her, saying, “I know you’ve had a tough year, too, Mom.”
Watch the following video to hear Shayy’s powerful story in her own words and to see the audition that left everyone in the room in tears. Needless to say, you’re going to want to grab some tissues before you watch it, but we can promise you, it will undoubtedly be the most inspirational thing you see all day.
In the meantime, join us in supporting Shayy on her journey, because no matter what happens on American Idol, this girl is already moving mountains.
To see more inspirational, heartwarming videos like this one, be sure to check out our entire Share Saturdays series – only on Richmond Mom!