Life can change in an instant. One day a person is here and the next, they’re gone. The old saying goes, “live life to its fullest”— but how? When in the midst of trials, that’s easier said than done. Sometimes all that’s needed is an inspirational voice of encouragement and a sobering realization; one comes from Kechi of “America’s Got Talent.”
“YOU DESERVED YOUR PLACE HERE TONIGHT, NOT JUST BASED ON YOUR STORY, BUT ACTUALLY ON YOUR TALENT. THAT’S THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH.”
– Simon Cowell
In 2005, Kechi and her fellow friends and classmates were headed home to Nigeria for the Christmas holiday. This was nothing out of the ordinary, as the group often traveled together, taking the same plane at the end of each semester. “The plane that we were on malfunctioned mid-air during the descent into the airport when the pilot makes that announcement, 15 minutes until the end of the flight,” Kechi says.
THE PLANE CRASHED AND TOOK WITH IT EVERYONE’S LIVES EXCEPT FOR TWO— KECHI AND ANOTHER WOMAN SHE DIDN’T KNOW PRIOR TO THE CRASH.
“All of the kids from my school were gone,” Kechi says. “It was such a huge, national tragedy since so many children died at once.” Kechi underwent extensive medical treatment with third degree burns over 65 percent of her body. When being hospitalized in South Africa, a life-changing event happened, nothing short of a miracle. “I was starting to feel better, and then one of my favorite songs came on the CD player my mom brought me from home,” Kechi says.
“I REMEMBER OPENING MY MOUTH TO SING ALONG AND THE SOUND CAME OUT TOTALLY DIFFERENT. MY MOM AND I LOOKED AT EACH OTHER IN SHOCK AND SHE ASKED ME ‘THAT’S HOW YOU SOUND?’”
Kechi expressed how unexpected this was, but how it was such an enormous blessing. She went on singing all the time and was filled with happiness as this was her escape and distraction from the pain she was suffering. “It gave me a lot of joy and became a part of my treatment, my healing, especially when I came here to America,” Kechi says. “My doctors even made it part of my therapy.”
As time went by, others began encouraging Kechi to sing and to consider trying out for “America’s Got Talent.”
“HONESTLY, I PROBABLY NEVER WOULD HAVE GONE IF ONE OF MY FRIENDS HADN’T PUSHED ME,” KECHI LAUGHS. “SHE LITERALLY SIGNED ME UP WITHOUT TELLING ME AND I RECEIVED A CALL IN 2016 SAYING MY APPLICATION WAS SELECTED TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THE PROCESS.”
As Kechi began this exciting stage in life, she explains that it acted as a reminder of constant encouragement and inspiration to get through the day. “I’m a Christian, and I strongly believe that God had a much bigger purpose than I could see at the time, especially with what happened to my friends that died. He wanted something to come out of that, for people to know, people to hear, and he wanted me to be a kind of vessel for that message. I feel that’s simply letting people know that they shouldn’t be afraid to be themselves, however they look, whatever they are, whatever they’re going through,” Kechi says.
Kechi thanks God every day for the opportunity to have a second chance at life, to use her voice to encourage others going through difficult times, and not just overcome trials, but thrive in life.
“I, quite literally, am trying every day to overcome things that happened to me, and I pray each time before I speak to a crowd,” Kechi says. “It doesn’t always have to be the whole crowd. It can just be one person in that crowd who needed to hear one sentence of encouragement, and that’s enough for me.” ◆