Ali Christensen, a sophomore studying communication at BYU-Idaho, recently appeared on the NBC show “America’s Got Talent.”
Christensen grew up in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Her mother is a singing teacher who has a performing group that tours around southeast Idaho.
Christensen and her younger sister, Christina, have been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, which is a genetic lung disease. Cystic fibrosis has made singing a challenge for the Christensen sisters.
“I’ve had to work extra hard to sing because my lungs get really tight, so its harder to sing,” Christensen said, “It is something that keeps me healthy. I’m grateful that I have that talent, but I have worked very hard for singing because you can’t just be lazy about it.”
Christensen has always had the goal of being on a talent-based reality show. She originally auditioned for “American Idol” but was unsuccessful. Later, she took an opportunity to audition for “America’s Got Talent” in Portland, Oregon.
“I love ‘America’s Got Talent’ because they actually incorporate a lot of you as a person, rather than just your talent,” Christensen said. “It’s almost less worldly than ‘Idol.’ I love ‘Idol’ though — watching it. But I love how they get to know the real person in this program.”
Christensen and her sister auditioned for “America’s Got Talent” separately. Christensen said the audition process is complicated. Contestants do not see the actual judges until passing several rounds of auditions.
The producers of the show decided they wanted the sisters to perform together.
“We went out in the hall and threw something together literally in 10 minutes,” Christensen said.
“America’s Got Talent” was the first time Christensen and her sister had sung together.
“Right before we went on, we sat on the side of the stage. We could just hear people being x’d. It was so loud, the loudest sound I’ve ever heard, and we got so nervous,” Christensen said. “We didn’t want to get x’d, and we knew the judges would just tell us right then and there if they liked us or not.”
Christensen and her sister performed Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb.” The song was meaningful to the sisters: they dedicated it to another sister who passed away a year ago.
“It was really special for us to be able to sing that for her,” Christensen said. “They didn’t really mention anything about it that night, but we were singing it for her. It was really emotional. We had a lot of heart in it.”
Both sisters were in tears of joy at the end of their performance.
“To see you two standing there singing is extraordinary. If people know someone has a terrible disease, it’s an amazing thing that you are doing just by walking out and singing,” said Piers Morgan, an “America’s Got Talent “judge.
The judges gave their approval, and the sisters were able to move on to the next round in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“America’s Got Talent” appears regularly on Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. on NBC.