You are probably familiar with the Susan Boyle craze that is sweeping the blogosphere. She is the middle-aged woman whose audition for the television show Britain's Got Talent has taken on a life of its own. I have to say that when I first watched the video of her singing "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables, I didn't quite get what all the fuss was about. Yes, she has a very good voice--but I know a lot of good singers, including several that I think have better ones. Why aren't they on YouTube getting all this attention? All I could come up with is Susan Boyle herself and her life story and her looks, both of which for some reason make people think she won't be able to sing. So she's never been kissed and she's not model-attractive. Why does that make people surprised that she can sing? Watching the video of her audition, I will admit I was moved by the sight of an everyday woman like myself finally getting to pursue her dream. I get that. Good for her! But my initial reaction to her voice was that yes, it's nice, but it is lacking a bit in nuance and sounds like it could use a little more training. All you Susan Boyle fans out there, please don't come gunning for me!
But then I heard this recording of Ms. Boyle singing "Cry Me a River" (HT: Gene Veith). It's from a charity CD recorded in 1999. All I can say is "Wow!" Now that is a voice! I think it's much better than her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" and shows off much more of what her voice is capable of. The "I Dreamed a Dream" performance uses sort of an all-out Broadway approach, whereas this song in my opinion shows many more layers of Ms. Boyle's voice. I can't help wondering if the Britain's Got Talent people got hold of Ms. Boyle and made her dress and sing a certain way and perhaps even picked that song (listen to the words) so as to maximize the desired effect. Certainly it is to their benefit to have the Susan Boyle phenomenon sweeping the world the way it is, and seeing as how this is not the first time something like this has happened with this show, I can't help wondering to what extent it was set up.
I know; I'm a cynic. But none of this takes away from the personal stories of Paul Potts and Susan Boyle, both of whom are gifted people who in pursuing their dreams have obviously inspired and touched millions of people. At the same time, I'm a little troubled by the implication that neither of them did anything worthwhile until they hit it big on YouTube and that only now have their lives taken on any meaning. There are many, many talented people in the world--people who are just as talented as these two and whose stories are just as compelling--who will never win a talent competition or make it on to YouTube, and I am inspired by them as much as by Susan Boyle, even moreso, because some of them are people I know personally and have watched day in and day out as they try to make a living and care for their families and go to church. They may not have fame, but they are every bit as admirable and inspiring as Susan Boyle and Paul Potts, and I don't have to go to the internet to see them.
I bet you have some of those people in your life, too. Next time you see them, why don't you give them a YouTube moment and let them know how special you think they are?