Last Saturday, on British TV talent show Britain's Got Talent, an unassuming 47-year-old-woman with a frumpy figure, unruly hair, bushy eyebrows and wearing a fairly unattractive dress, was laughed at as she strutted out on stage for an audition. As she answered the judges' questions before her performance (with some degree of sassiness, I might add), they pulled faces, the audience giggled and muttered and hosts Ant and Dec mugged from the wings. Before she had finished her first line (she was singing I Dreamed A Dream from Les Misérables), everyone had stopped laughing, and many were gasping, cheering and clapping. If you have not seen it yourself already, please check out the YouTube video (I don't do this usually with links, but if you select this link, it'll open the video in a new window, so you can keep on reading).
If you are anything like me, you may have had shivers running up your spine when Ms. Boyle started singing. At the time of writing this, close to 14 Million people have watched the above YouTube clip. From surprising a panel of cocky judges on a talent show, that unassuming 47-year-old woman from a small town in Scotland has progressed to wowing the World. Apparently, she is already in talks with Judge Simon Cowell's Sony BMG record label. Even celebrity couple Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher got in on the act, when it was widely reported that the two had sent the following messages to each other on Twitter:
Kutcher: This just made my night.
Moore: You saw it made me teary.
So where has Susan Boyle been all these years? According to the Daily Mirror, she was bullied as a child, due to her fuzzy hair, and a learning difficulty caused by being starved of oxygen during birth. She found comfort in singing. After taking part in choirs and concerts while at school, she graduated to playing clubs and pubs. She is well-known locally for singing karaoke. A spell at Edinburgh Acting School in the 90's was cut short when she had to look after her sick Mother (her Father died ten years ago). It was her Mother who wanted Susan to enter Britain's Got Talent. Ms. Boyle has eight older siblings, and still lives in the same house as she grew up in, with a ten year old cat named Pebbles. Although things are likely to change very soon, she was unemployed and volunteered for her church. She claims never to have been kissed.
I think that what has captured the world's imagination is not just her voice, which is fantastic, but the fact that it comes from such an unlikely source. Mark Smith, in Scottish Newspaper The Herald says that people like Susan "stand out because everyone on television now has the same face, the same hair and the same teeth. Someone on the programme might make this point one day, but it's unlikely anyone would hear them over the tearjerking violin music being played over slow-motion clips of Susan smiling."
I think the danger is that some "image expert" will try to change Ms. Boyle, and that will spoil the magic. To a degree this process may already be starting. Apparently, judge Piers Morgan ordered a film crew to film in a neighboring town rather than Boyle's hometown Blackburn, which Morgan branded "a dump," according to newspaper The Scotsman.
I would love to hear your thoughts on Susan Boyle, her amazing performance, and her future. Please do post a comment.