Bianca Ryan at the Hollystock Music and Arts Festival in Mount Holly, New Jersey, in August 2015
|Birth name||Bianca Taylor Ryan|
September 1, 1994 |
Ocean City, New Jersey, U.S.
Bianca Taylor Ryan (born September 1, 1994) is an American singer, songwriter, musician and actress from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ryan was the first winner of NBC's America's Got Talent at the age of eleven. She auditioned for Talent in 2006 and amazed the judges with her big voice. Singing two Broadway show tunes along the way, Ryan was announced as the winner of season one on August 17. Her eponymous first album was released later in 2006, followed by two Christmas albums. Two singles followed in 2007 and 2010; also in 2010, she made an acting appearance in a music video by The Wrecking. The video for her first new release in four years, a cover of the John Legend song "All of Me", was posted to her YouTube channel in March 2014. Her original song "Alice" was self-released in May 2015.
In 2012, Ryan joined the cast of the independent film We Are Kings, portraying one of two down-on-their-luck teen musicians who are guided by an angel to save an elder bluesman from freezing to death. The film premiered in September 2014, and the video for her single "Broken Down House" was released in October.
Bianca Ryan is the second of five children of Shawn and Janette Ryan, who moved from New Jersey to Philadelphia when Bianca was three years old. Her father, a fan of The Rolling Stones, named her after Mick Jagger's ex-wife.[a] She has an older brother, Shawn, and three younger siblings, Isabella, Jagger and Evangelina. Ryan is "mostly" Irish and calls herself a mix of Japanese, Irish, Italian, German and Cherokee. "I'm basically just America ... the melting pot."
Ryan's singing talent came as something of a surprise to her family, given that she was an award-winning tap dancer as a child. Ryan said she did not even attempt to sing until she was eight years old and started enjoying LeAnn Rimes and country music. Shawn Ryan started sharing his record collection with his daughter, and Bianca "fell in love" with rhythm and blues and soul music. She convinced him to take her to an audition for Star Search, where her performance of "Think" impressed the judges and shocked her father. "I'd never heard her sing like that." During the Junior Singers competition, Bianca Ryan lost to Spensha Baker. Ryan later won Amateur Kids Night on Showtime at the Apollo.
America's Got Talent
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In 2006, Ryan learned that American Idol judge Simon Cowell was serving as executive producer for an upcoming competition titled America's Got Talent, and the tryouts in New York were happening on the same day as a family outing in the city. Ryan almost left without performing when she looked at the other contestants and saw a lady with a beard "probably about, like, two feet long," juggling torches. She decided to stay when her father told her the grand prize was US$1 million. For her televised audition, she chose the Dreamgirls show tune "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going", surprising the audience and the judges with her powerful voice. The video of her audition performance quickly became popular on YouTube.
For the semi-finals of the show Ryan performed "Piece of My Heart". The judges praised her performance, but they did not think the song was right for Ryan. She rebounded for her finals performance, singing "I Am Changing" (also from Dreamgirls); judge David Hasselhoff called her "the best" in the competition, while Piers Morgan predicted she would win. During the finale results aired on August 17, 2006, 11-year-old Bianca Ryan was announced by emcee Regis Philbin as the winner of season one of America's Got Talent.[b]
2006–09: Bianca Ryan and holiday albums
One week after her victory, Ryan announced on her website that she had flown to New York to meet with representatives from a record label and some of the recording industry's top songwriters. The Northeast Times reported the same day that Ryan met with Grammy Award-winning producer David Foster and was being managed by Peter Rudge.
Ryan signed a five-album record deal with SYCOmusic as part of Columbia Records on September 18, 2006. She was the first U.S. artist to sign with SYCOmusic; during the press conference, Simon Cowell called Ryan "potentially one of the best singers I have ever heard in my life." The following month, Ryan was in Los Angeles to record her first CD. The self-titled debut was released on November 14, 2006, featuring cover versions of "The Rose" and "I Believe I Can Fly", and original songs like "I Wish That" and "Pray for a Better Day". Eight days later, the album debuted at No. 57 on the Billboard album charts, showcasing "her gargantuan chops and sweet charm". Matt Collar of AllMusic added that the arrangements were "grandiose" for someone of Ryan's age, but they were "more than matched by her truly impressive vocal talent." Los Angeles Daily News reviewer Sandra Barrera wrote that Ryan handled the songs "like the old pro that her big, powerful voice makes you think she is".
One month later, the EP Christmas Everyday! was released as a promotional giveaway. She then joined several artists in a televised 2006 Christmas performance for President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at the National Building Museum to benefit the Children's National Medical Center.
In 2008, Ryan left SYCOmusic/Columbia Records; she released her second holiday-themed EP, True Meaning of Christmas, on November 3, 2009, on the indie Music Forever label. This second collection, co-written with Anthony Marinelli and Siedah Garrett, included updated versions of "The Christmas Song" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"; the title track featured a duet with gospel pop singer Brent Jones.
2010–present: Singles, videos and upcoming EP
In 2010, Bianca Ryan wrote and recorded a song inspired by Twilight: New Moon called "In My Head". The single was released digitally on August 21 through the indie label Tuned In Music and Media, followed by performances at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Ryan was asked in October 2012 about the differences between her debut album and her future projects. She said she didn't get to choose what songs went on her first CD, and while the experience she gained by working with people like David Foster and Kara DioGuardi was amazing, "I didn't feel like it was really me. ... You can relate to songs that you write." Ryan spent much of her teen years out of the spotlight. She explained in 2014 that she had put her career on hold to go back to school even though, as it turned out, she hated high school—besides "a couple of stalkers", she was mostly ignored by other students and didn't make any friends until after school was over. Nevertheless, she "wanted to live a life, and have purpose and things to write about" due to her passion for writing music. Ryan told fanlala.com in February that she was working with industry veterans like Quincy Jones on a new EP featuring her own work, which she called more "mainstream" than anything she had written before. Ryan described her musical style as a blend of neo soul, R&B and pop.
In 2015, Ryan created a music video for "Alice", an original song she had written years earlier. The video was funded in part by a Kickstarter project and was self-released in May 2015. It features dancer Chloe Lukasiak, who called the video her favorite project since leaving Dance Moms. The single was released via Ryan's own label through iTunes, Google Play and ReverbNation. Her cover of "God Bless the Child" was released on iTunes in July.
Ryan plans to go on tour in support of her upcoming EP. She was a featured performer at the Hollystock Music and Arts Festival in Mount Holly, New Jersey, in August 2015. Performances in November included the Macy's Christmas Window unveiling and the 6ABC/Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Parade, both in Philadelphia.
Ryan made several early attempts to be an actress, trying out unsuccessfully for such projects as Camp Rock and Hannah Montana. She made her acting debut in a walk-off appearance in the 2005 film 12 and Holding; her character is shown at a school function singing the final line of "Oh! Susanna", thanking the audience, and leaving the stage. She returned to acting five years later, playing the lead role in the music video for "About to Fall" by The Wrecking.
In 2012, Ryan joined the cast of We Are Kings, an independent, crowdsourced feature film. She portrayed one of two homeless musicians who join up with a runaway rapper to help an elder bluesman raise the money he needs to save his comatose wife and their repossessed blues club. Ryan and her co-stars wrote their own original songs for We Are Kings. Her first single from the film, "Broken Down House", was released in November 2014.
Upon the film's release, LA Weekly called Ryan, Long and Pryce "so bursting with talent that it's impossible to pick a favorite" while the Los Angeles Times looked past the "discordant" acting to praise the "palpable, soulful authenticity" of the music. "I could use an acting coach," Ryan admitted, "but, see, I'm honest."
Albums and EPs
|2003||Star Search||Herself (contestant)||TV|
|2003||Showtime at the Apollo||Herself (contestant)||TV; winner of Amateur Kids Night|
|2005||12 and Holding||Singing Girl||Film|
|2006||America's Got Talent||Herself (contestant)||TV; 6 episodes; season 1 winner|
|2014||We Are Kings||Layla Knuckles||Film|
|2006||"You Light Up My Life"||Bianca Ryan||Released: November 2006|
|2006||"Why Couldn't It Be Christmas Every Day?"||Bianca Ryan||Released: December 2006|
|2010||"About to Fall"||The Wrecking||Released: September 8, 2010|
|2014||"All of Me"||Bianca Ryan||Released: March 3, 2014|
|2014||"Broken Down House"||Bianca Ryan||Released: November 6, 2014|
|2015||"Alice"||Bianca Ryan||Released: May 26, 2015|
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- True Meaning of Christmas. ASIN B004SKWN4E. (Music Forever). 2009.
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|America's Got Talent winner
Season 1 (Summer 2006)