Many of us have dreamed of being onstage performing in front of a huge audience, and having the whole crowd love us. Maybe sitting in with a major rock, blues or jazz star, and having everyone go "Ooh ahh !!!"
Well, dreams like that do sometimes come true, as the late great and thoroughly magical Walt Disney commented decades ago.
Such was the case the other night, when the UK version of America’s Got Talent, called Britain’s Got Talent, featured 47-year-old singer Susan Boyle -- who nonchalantly described herself as "Never been married; never been kissed!" :
Before she sang, many in the audience could be seen laughing, giggling and snickering. Her appearance -- the way she was dressed and her small town expressions and mannerisms -- definitely did not fit the stereotype view many have of a person of great talent.
However, in this case that’s exactly the way it was!
Reflecting back, Boyle bears an uncanny resemblance to 1940s U.S. singer Kate Smith, who made famous "God Bless America" by composer Irving Berlin. She also possesses a deeply inspirational quality in the way she puts a song across, much like 1940s WW ll-era singer Vera Lynn, who’s best known for singing "White Cliffs of Dover" and "I’ll Be Seeing You".
Personally, before the actual singing began, I felt this lady might have talent. I thought the comments and expressions of ridicule from the audience might have been unwarranted, and were extremely cruel. So, like everyone else, I played the ‘wait and see game’ to see what would come up when Susan actually sang.
One of the three judges, actress Amanda Holden, seemed willing to give Susan Boyle an optimistic nod of "Go ahead and let’s see what you’ve got!"
After listening to Susan’s performance, Amanda said, "I’m so thrilled. It was a complete privilege listening to that!" Susan, smiling back, replied, "It was an equal privilege."
One of Amanda’s two fellow judges, Simon Cowell prior to Susan singing, was just the opposite, and seemed waiting to be entertained in a comical way by Ms. Boyle’s singing talent (or supposed lack of it). Afterwords, he said, grinning, "I knew the moment you walked out on that stage we were going to hear something extraordinary, and I was right".
During Susan’s performance, the show’s hosts Ant and Dec (themselves successful UK singers), looked into the camera and said, "You didn’t expect to hear that, did you?" as Susan was onstage enthralling everyone in the audience, and the panel of judges as well, with her singing.
The third judge, Piers Morgan, seemed to exude a child-like appreciation in his face and eyes, while watching Ms. Boyle’s performance. After she finished singing, he happily said to her, "That was stunning an incredible performance!" Later when voting, he added, "This is the biggest ‘Yes’ I have ever given anybody during my three years with the show."
The second she started singing, Susan Boyle seemed to exude the kind of talent that can only be described as ‘magical’. When it comes out so effortlessly and beautifully as Susan did, when singing her beautiful rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables, the love she exuded was matched by an equal amount of loving appreciation from the many in the audience that truly magical evening.
There was a short pause in the song towards the end, where the orchestra could be heard, but no vocals. Susan was nodding and smiling at the audience during this pause then went like magic into "I had a dream " That pause must have been very difficult to count, in regards to the beat, and to come back into with singing, just at the right moment. Yet, Susan seemed to do it, as naturally and effortlessly as anyone could hope to do. This is possibly the part of the song that original Les Miserables singer Patti LuPone was referring to in a CBS Early Morning phone interview with Diane Sawyer, (when Susan was the featured guest), mentioning how difficult this song is to do. LuPone also took that opportunity to greatly praise Susan’s singing. This CBS TV show was the first of the ‘Big 3’ American networks to interview Boyle, after her Brit TV show appearance caught the world by storm. NBC and ABC followed soon after:
In another instance singer Elaine Paige, praised Susan and expressed interest in recording a duet with her. During the BGT filming, Susan mentioned wishing she could sing as good as her ‘hero’, Paige. Well, in that rarefied higher stratosphere of talent, Boyle will just have to settle for a ‘Mutual Admiration Society’ of adulation from those who have now become her peers in the entertainment industry.
The way the camera panned over the thrilled audience who were giving standing ovations, even before the song was finished looked like a miracle happening, right out of the Bible, like Moses parting the Red Sea.
I’ve never been touched by a performance like that in all my life. That is without a doubt, the finest singing I’ve ever heard anywhere. The lack of ‘polish’ as some have said about her mannerisms, and her own lack of realizing just how great a talent she is, seemed to make Ms. Boyle’s presence onstage soar even higher. She exuded a joy that came from within herself to her audience and back again, in an extremely beautiful way!
Susan instantly won millions of fans overnight, worldwide, including this writer, through her performance and interviews being aired on the Internet via ‘You Tube’ as well as on news and fan websites. Within hours, fans set up websites to Boyle, to show their appreciation for her singing on Britain’s Got Talent. She became a local celebrity where she lives in the Scottish community of Blackburn, West Lothian, and is featured in interviews, news stories and videos aired on the local news site: http://www.westlothiancourier.co.uk/
Scotland's Daily Record found a 1999 CD compilation, which features Boyle singing an endearing rendition of the classic "Cry Me a River". Apparently only 1000 copies of this rare CD compilation were made at the time, for a charity fundraiser. Some of these have found their way onto Ebay, including one that’s being auctioned to raise money for the local Livingston Football (Soccer) Club:
Susan’s version of "Cry Me " is mysteriously piercing to the soul, and deserves to be heard not just for her singing, which is superb, but for the orchestra backing her as well. Especially since it shows how Boyle’s outstanding talent has been around for at least 10 years longer than we were previously aware of: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI2DxkrgpgQ
If my late friend, Gino Empry, who used to be Canada’s top publicist and talent booker (Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, Petula Clark, Ed Mirvish/Royal Alexandra Theatre where the original Les Miserables was performed) was still with us, I would have been on the phone with him right away, saying to him, "Gino, you have to check this girl out She sings like an angel!", and she does! I’m sure Gino would have booked her into the Royal York’s Imperial Room, or even into the Royal Alex or Massey Hall, with no effort at all.
I myself felt very teary-eyed almost immediately, and realized "Yes this is a Star!" It didn’t take much the audience and three judges alike, all appeared overcome with delight at seeing and hearing such a beautiful vocal performance as Susan Boyle gave them this night. She could easily fill a hall selling it out! Over 14 million people have viewed her so far, on some of the ‘You Tube’ sites worldwide.
At this point, I would still like to wish Susan Boyle the best of luck that can come her way, in her future career as a singer. I hope she stays natural and fun, with a common touch for the people, the way she was onstage this very 'magical' night of operatic vocal greatness. This kind of thing is very beautiful and wonderful to listen to and watch. It is one of the most enchanting and deeply moving performances by far I have ever seen. And that is the absolute truth!
Good luck, Susan Boyle!