Kechi Okwuchi is so much more than a singer and competitor. She’s a survivor. At aged 16, she emerged badly injured from a plane crash over Nigeria which took the lives of 107 passengers. She was one of just two survivors and the only child to make it through the disaster, though the cost to her health was great. Kechi suffered third-degree burns to most of her body, and her chances of survival were slim.
After lengthy stints in rehab, Kechi recovered and she pursued her dreams of singing. Those dreams became a reality in 2017, when she completed a memorable run to the season 12 finals of America’s Got Talent, stealing the hearts of AGT fans and judges along the way. AGT was the “first time I was recognized as a singer,” she said in an emotional interview which opened her performance. The NBC TV talent quest “showed me there is life after burns. I feel like I owe it to the kids who lost their lives in the accident to live in exemplary ways, that would make those that we lost proud that we’re here.”
On Monday night, she return to the big stage for AGT: The Champions, where the 28-year-old Texan opened her account with Calum Scott’s touching “You Are The Reason.”
Kechi totally aced it, earning a standing ovation from everyone in the room. Howie Mandel called her a “champion of life,” Mel B praised her hard work and talents. Simon Cowell, as he so often does, dropped a truth bomb when he admitted he “didn’t really like it that much,” earning a round of boos from the audience and surprised looks form his fellow judges. But he wasn’t finished. “I actually loved it,” he blurted out, as he slapped down the golden buzzer. “You want to know want what a champion is,” Cowell said as he embraced Kechi, “this is a champion.”
There’s not a dry eye in the house. Watch below.