Alyssa Ibarra kept a secret from her friends and fellow Disney California Adventure park cast members for the last eight months: she’s a contestant on the new season of “The Voice” singing competition.
But that’s not the only incredible thing about her. “Another fun fact about me is that I was born deaf,” shared Alyssa, who goes by Ali.
Ali’s profound hearing loss was detected when she was a baby. “My father was a drummer and my parents realized I didn’t even flinch when he was practicing around me,” she said. Doctors tried surgery, but Ali said she has come to rely on hearing aids and lip reading to pick up the sounds around her.
Ali developed a love of music early on, feeling the vibrations of the beat. “When I was little, I was working with a speech therapist and she had me singing songs. I’d sing on pitch, which surprised everyone,” Ali said. “Music has always been part of me. No matter the obstacle, it didn’t keep me from doing what I was passionate about.” By age 7, she was playing guitar and drums.
The 24-year-old singer joined the Disneyland Resort five years ago, working primarily at the Incredicoaster in Pixar Pier, playing gigs when time permits. She has tried out for “The Voice” twice before, but never made it to the blind auditions until this year, where her powerful rendition of “Killing Me Softly With His Song” had judges Kelly Clarkson and Chance the Rapper turning their seats around and vying for Ali to join their respective teams.
“I guess the third time’s a charm,” Ali laughed. It was only then that Ali informed the judges of her hearing loss.
Ali took some time away from work to focus on the show, but recently returned and was excited to see her fellow attractions cast members. In fact, until she was allowed to announce her appearance on the show on social media in February, most of her colleagues only knew of her vocal skill from her easy wins at work karaoke parties. “Everyone’s been so supportive,” she said. “I’m very blessed to have a cool job with amazing friends. Their support means the most to me.”
Ali said she has always appreciated the inclusive culture at Disney. “Obviously, I faced some challenges before I got better hearing aids, but everyone has been so accommodating. We all embrace each other’s differences.”
Lisa Ibarra, Ali’s mom, also works at the resort in Disney Photo Imaging, and she couldn’t be prouder. “Ali’s determination and perseverance has never let anything get in the way,” Lisa said. “I truly believe my miracle child is going to inspire not just those around her, but the entire world!”
Look for Ali in this week’s episode (premiering April 3 on NBC) in the battle round as a member of Team Kelly, where artists from the same team compete against each other. While Ali isn’t permitted to divulge how far she goes in the competition, this season of “The Voice” continues through May (check your local listings for details).