Anilee List has dreamed of being a star ever since she was a small child. After being diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome at age 10, she wasn’t sure she’d ever achieve her goal of performing live onstage.
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Then, in 2011, she watched James Durbin, who also has Tourette’s, navigate the neurological disorder and become a finalist on season 10 of “American Idol.”
Anilee was able to meet James several times over the years through their mutual work with the Tourette Association of America. He inspired her so much that she overcame her fears of performing live!
Now 20, Anilee studies vocal performance at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Not to mention, she just had a slam dunk audition on season 19 of “American Idol.”
“I hope to prove to people that I am much more than my Tourette’s, and I am just as normal and weird as anybody else,” she told celebrity judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan before starting her song.
She selected “Blue” by Aaron Taylor, which perfectly suits the young singer’s soulful vocal style. In a video, we see that the moment she starts to sing, all three judges seem stunned by her talent. It doesn’t take long for them to become permanent Anilee fans!
“I had like, six waves of chill bumps,” Bryan said. Perry agreed: “That was one of the most technically-perfect vocals I think we’ve ever gotten here on ‘American Idol.'”
After receiving a resounding yes from all three judges, the show had a surprise for Anilee waiting backstage. James Durbin, who inspired her to enter the competition, was there to cheer his friend on via video conference!
“Now is your chance to show the next generation what you’ve been diagnosed with is not something that defines you, it’s something you defy,” James said.
It’s so important to see inclusion like this in our everyday media! Anilee received hope from James, and now she’ll pass it on to any other aspiring talent who isn’t sure they’ll “fit in.”
We’ll be rooting for her, for sure! Check out Anilee’s awesome audition in the video below, and don’t forget to share her story.
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