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The Appeal of Susan Boyle


What is the appeal of Susan Boyle? Is it that she is "one of us"? She is a humble, shy, unassuming 47-year-old woman from a Scottish village who doesn't own a computer, took care of her mother until she passed on, lives alone with her cat, and has never been kissed. She has a God given gift of voice previously only displayed by singing in her church choir and at local karaoke clubs. She had a dream of being discovered and sharing her talent with the world. We were witnesses to seeing this dream being fulfilled.

I was mesmerized by the YouTube video of her first appearance on Britain's Got Talent as I watched it again and again. I am a professional musician and I kept wondering, what was it about her singing that took my breath away every time I heard it? Is her voice that beautiful? I've heard more pure, vocal qualities from other singers. Was it the shock of expecting her talent to match her appearance?

I must confess that the first time I heard that video was on the radio before I even saw her and the way the commentators described her elegant singing made me a little disappointed when I heard her on the air. I thought, what's the big deal?

Then when I saw the YouTube video, I began to get a sense of what the excitement was all about. The whole audition was a transforming experience. The audience and the judges had low expectations based on Susan's looks and nervousness before she began (she forgot the word 'village.') The eye rolls and snickering said it all. Then when she started to sing she drew everyone in. I think that is what makes her singing so special.

She expresses the music in a way that calls out to the listener. She knows how to phrase and make the words come alive. She showed supreme confidence in her art and that is what shined through. She was also very gracious in allowing the audience in after their initial reaction to her. She could have copped an "I'll show you" attitude but she didn't. This is what made this a transformation.

Her willingness to share her talent with the audience while forgiving them their earlier ignorance was a gift of grace. And everyone there, the judges included, got it. And that is why I believe there have been so many hits on this youTube video. I cry tears of joy every time I watch it. It makes me feel good. The endearing, shocked, and blissful looks on the three judges' faces say it all.

In seven minutes we see the proverbial class clown or village idiot bullied and ridiculed then transformed into a beautiful swan by baring her soul to all who then forgives us and makes us feel ashamed for prejudging her. She is Everywoman, Rocky, and Cinderella all in one and we love her for it. She may have come up short in the competition but she won our hearts and touched our souls.