Where Is She Now? ‘America’s Got Talent’ Season One Winner Bianca Ryan Talks Reality-Based Musical Competitions, Being An Indie Artist, More

It’s August 17, 2006, and the lights in the arena have been turned down low with the exception of a central spotlight focused on center stage. The fog begins to build on the stage as she stands there in her green dress gripping the microphone, ready to give one last performance. Little did she realize this performance would change her life forever. As she belts out the final notes of “I Am Changing”, the audience roars in applause. A few months before, she was just another eleven-year-old signing into her hair brush, but on that night, she would go on to be crowned the inaugural winner of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”. This is the story of none other than Bianca Ryan.

Ryan was the bright-eyed 11-year-old powerhouse that America fell in love with during the summer of 2006. Nearly ten years later, Bianca is still an ambitious individual achieving success, not only in singing, but songwriting and acting as well. It has been a journey of many peaks and valleys, but she truly wouldn’t have it any other way. To better understand the woman behind the voice, you have to go back to the beginning. Bianca like many before her started out in the arts at a young age; she was tap dancing at age three and won numerous awards over the years for dance in tap, ballet, and jazz. Though she became known for her vocal prowess, singing wasn’t her first passion. Her interest in signing was sparked by her father, “a guitar player and musician himself who toured with numerous gospel groups back in his days,” according to Bianca. It was their love for R&B and Gospel music along with her father’s large album collection that precipitated her interest. She stated, “He had a lot of albums that I would steal from him and listen to. I just kept going, and I started rehearsing every night with him because I loved it and then all of a sudden, things just escalated.”

Though many of the artists she listened to when borrowing her dad’s albums were established long before her childhood, the influence they had on her remains to this day. Her inspirations ranged from the likes of Yolanda Adams and Aretha Franklin all the way to Patti Labelle. The lessons learned from these women, her father, and other artists continue to motivate her even though Bianca has had the opportunity to work with renowned engineers, producers and songwriters while traveling the world since that fateful night on August 17, 2006.

Although we’ll remember her as that little girl who won our hearts on “America’s Got Talent,” Bianca has become a veteran in the entertainment industry. The lessons learned since that night have changed Bianca’s approach to the music industry, while allowing her to truly find herself as an artist. As she reflects back, there are a few things she would consider doing differently such as “wishing [she] could have been older at the time of ‘America’s Got Talent’ to better understand the magnitude of the opportunities being presented to [her] and take advantage of them.”

Bianca understands that “America’s Got Talent” changed her life and is truly grateful for the experience, but at the same time she wishes she had known about the misconceptions that many people have about the winners and participants of reality-based musical competitions. Bianca wants people to understand, “It’s more work after the show as the industry is so saturated right now that a person could be on the show for a whole season, win it and still go home having nothing change in their life.” She has gone from being signed to Syco Music/Columbia Records to owning her own independent label. The way in which she approaches music has changed as she knows the pros and cons of being signed to both an indie and a major label. Bianca couldn’t be happier in her current position as an indie artist, much like Cody Simpson. Cody is an Australian singer, songwriter, musician, dancer, and actor formerly signed Atlantic Record, who now runs his own label, Coast House Records. She referenced how Cody recently put out an album in 2015 that he describes as being his first CD, even though technically it’s his first independent album under his own label. Much like Cody, she currently owns her own label, Bianca Ryan Records LLC. She stated that she “can finally be an artist and make money off what [she does].”

The two things which we found most interesting were that even after selling a couple hundred thousand copies of her debut album, she never made any money from it and was not able to contribute to writing any of the songs on the album. She is now able to “write and do the music [she wants] and it feels great.” She has grown to develop a better understanding of the business side of the industry. This newfound understanding helps direct which endeavors and opportunities she pursues. As she gracefully put it, “Being an independent artist, I could literally sell 1% of what I would sell with a record company and finally make money off my music to where I can fund other projects, whereas if you are not making anything you can’t fund your next music video or pay for time in a studio.” As she has grown so has her music with more focus on “relatable real life stuff ranging from relationships and everyday life to personal struggles.”

Her time is currently being spent working on a new untitled EP that she is hoping to release in 2016. She describes the EP as having “songs about inspiring and motivating people. You have your love songs, but I want songs that really just bring people up and show them you can do this. One of the songs on there is called ‘One Day’ and it’s basically about just overcoming the negativity in your life.”

Music will continue to be her main focus for quite some time as she works on the new EP. Down the line, she wants to continue with her acting, but she “hopes to get on Ellen this year to promote the new EP because [she] hasn’t seen her in a while and loves her.”

Though the majority of America got to know her at such a young age, Bianca has yet to show truly what she is capable of. There is no limit to her talents in music, songwriting, and acting. As Quincy Jones once said, “Bianca will be the next revolution in the music industry,” and I for one will continue to follow her as she leaves her mark.