For Johanna Eriksson, every day is filled with excruciating pain.
The 19-year-old from Sundsvall, Sweden, suffers from an aggressive form of rheumatism, causing aggressive inflammation in her joints.
The condition took hold when she was 5 years old, and she’s been dealing with it ever since.
Since being diagnosed, Johanna has had both shoulder joints, both hip joints, and one elbow joint replaced with titanium. “Now, both knees will be replaced,” she said.
Johanna’s illness caused her to isolate herself, ultimately leading to social anxiety.
She spent most of her days alone, with music becoming her one true friend.
“[Music] allows you to think of something else for a while.”
“The body is as it is, but I feel happy anyways.”
For Johanna, her favorite songs had always been the Disney classics. “I’ve always liked Disney since I was little,” she said. “I always sang the songs if I could— and even if I could not,” she laughed.
Four years ago, Johanna’s brother signed her up for Talang, a Swedish talent competition. Here, the 19-year-old took the world by storm.
As someone who had only sung at home, the audition was nerve-racking for Johanna. Still, the pink-haired, wheelchair-bound singer swept the audience off their feet.
For her audition, she chose to sing “God Help The Outcasts,” originally performed by the character Esmerelda in Disney’s Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
Written by Stephen Schwartz with music composed by Alan Menken, “God Help the Outcasts” is a somber hymn, In the context of the movie, it was sung by the gypsy Esmerelda as she asked God to protect the outcasts of the world from discrimination and hate.
Clad in a sweet pink hoodie and leg warmers, Johanna brings the judges to tears with her heartwrenching rendition of the song.
Seeing the wheel-chair bound teen and hearing her story brings special meaning to the performance. It’s clear the young girl is singing about herself.
Her voice is clear as she sings powerful lines, such as: “God help the outcasts, hungry from birth. Show them the mercy they don’t find on Earth.”
The emotional performance garnered a standing ovation from both the judges and the crowd.
“She has a story that is very moving,” said one of the judges.
“When she sings, she gives expression that a pain that seizes.”
Since being uploaded to YouTube, Johanna’s powerful performance has been viewed over 142,000 times.
“I saw this and it instantly touched my heart. Had tears in my eyes the entire time.”
“When she sang, ‘I ask for nothing, I can get by’ she made everyone love her even more. Truly inspiring young girl.”
“Heart-wrenching. Every outcast and misfit is behind her in this performance.”
“By far, this is the most beautiful version I have ever listened to.”
See the performance below!
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