It was a beautiful dream. The mousy little lady next door became an overnight sensation.
I wrote about the phenom of Susan Boyle, the Scottish church lady who could sing the socks off many younger, more beautiful, flashier superstar wannabe's, as soon as I saw the first video of her performance on Britain's Got Talent. That one got a lot of hits on this blog. On YouTube, where it originated, it broke all records. People I emailed it to reported being moved to tears--even those who normally are pretty cool about showbiz news in general and skyrocketing stars in particular.
This was something we had not seen in our lives. So many of those skyrockets are created by publicity flacks--they are pre-packaged, pre-digested, made over, and made up--using modern technology to create the illusion that they are singing and modern medicine to make them look a certain way. Here was a normal, ordinary-looking person with the audacity to announce that she wanted to be the next Elaine Page. The crowd, the judges of the competition, and we at home, were dubious. Then she sang for us.
The moment we first heard that voice is one we shall never forget. It simply was the promise fulfilled, the promise that perhaps each of us has something he can do better than anyone else. Here was this unpretentious, unknown, unheralded lady who had lived in obscurity, sheltering a blinding light that will never again be under any bushel.
The contest went on, with the finals held last night. Since that first moment, plain little Susan Boyle has no longer existed. She went to a local beauty parlor and had a few things done. She was besieged by photographers and news hounds. She appeared on television interviews. When asked what her success meant to her, she said, "I won't be lonely any more." This was a lady who lived in a remote town, had spent the last few years doing little more than attending church, singing in the choir, and caring for her mother until she died. She was unprepared for the spotlight, but she was sure she was ready and that it was going to be fun. She had no way of knowing how difficult it all was going to be.
The latest chapter happened yesterday, when she came in second in the final lap of the contest. One senses that this is the best thing that could happen to her. She needs some time to process the events of recent weeks in her life. She needs to check into her real life again before she decides how (or whether) to reinvent herself. The world needs a breather from the Susanmania that has overtaken us, and we sense that she needs to gather herself before she enters another phase of her life.
The joyful news is that of course we shall become accustomed to hearing that voice. Like that of Frank Sinatra, we will recognize the voice by its splendid timbre, and be grateful to have it wash over us time and again. We have welcomed a new neighbor into our hearts, and all we need is for her to sing to us some more.