Column – Singing into our heartsIt took a Scottish woman to teach the world never to judge a book – or a singer – by its cover.
By: Dennis Dalman, Alexandria Echo Press
It took a Scottish woman to teach the world never to judge a book – or a singer – by its cover.
Most of us will probably forget that timely lesson, but Susan Boyle’s magnificent performance on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent rightfully brought the entire world to its feet.
Last week, the CNN channel was on while I was reading a book. All of a sudden I heard the name “Simon Cowell” and stopped reading to hear an update about “American Idol.” Looking up, I saw this frumpy-looking woman who looked like she was about to sing. I winced. I could tell the audience and the three judges were snickering, thinking she would be lousy.
And then Boyle launched into her song with the voice of an ascending angel. My jaw dropped. The judges’ and the audience’s jaws dropped. As Boyle sang, an astonishing transformation took place right before our eyes. This modest, homely, frumpy woman had caused an instant metamorphosis. It was like watching a glorious butterfly emerging from a mundane cocoon.
By the end of that song, Boyle had slayed that audience by her sheer presence, talent and confidence. After she sang the last note, she wasn’t homely anymore; she wasn’t frumpy. The duckling had turned into a swan. It was a breathless moment of pure magic.
I couldn’t wait to find out more about Boyle. I began channel-surfing, wondering who she was and where she came from. In my life, I’ve seen a lot of talent shows and karaoke contests, but this Boyle took the cake; she brought home the bacon; she was a virtual revelation.
I eventually found out she is a 47-year-old Scottish woman who lives in the same house in which she grew up. She claims never to have had a date, never to have been kissed. She lives in her small house with a cat named Pebbles. As a child, she said, she had been bullied and teased by other children. It sounds like the saddest of stories, and yet there is nothing at all sad about that remarkable woman. She is an amazement. Her performance will likely be remembered as one of TV’s greatest moments. I’ve seen that clip about 20 times, and every time I get spine-tingling chills of admiration.
What’s so great about it is that these days there are so many “beautiful” or “handsome” no-talents in movies and in music. A lot of these “stars” are nothing but spoiled, ill-behaved brats who make the news more for their rotten behavior than for their talent.
Here at last, in the person of Susan Boyle, we were blown away by a riveting voice coming from such an “ordinary-looking” woman. She is proof positive that unmistakable talent sometimes does triumph, despite the culture schlock that surrounds us.
I’ve always thought pop music was better before the advent of TV. Some of the homeliest people were the greatest of singers – Roy Orbison, to name just one. We just didn’t know or care what they looked like. We just bought their records with their names on them. In the video age, singers (most of them anyway) had to be very good-looking or downright freaky to succeed.
Now there is talk of giving Boyle a “make-over.” Banish the thought. Let her be just who she is because that is what makes her unique, and that is what puts her in the rank of the angels.