If you haven't seen the viral video of Susan Boyle yet, take a few minutes to watch it.
It's worth it.
When Boyle appears on the American-Idolish Britain's Got Talent, she admits that she's never been kissed, tells the audience she's 47, and then shakes her hips playfully. The crowd snickers, the judges raise their eyebrows. Within moments of her performance, the crowd rises to their feet to cheer her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream," from Les Miserables. Here are the lyrics from the classic piece:
I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame
Several news outlets have referred to her as the church volunteer, and we know a little bit more from Mary Jordan's Washington Post article:
She always wanted to sing in front of a large audience, but mostly she just sings in church. On Easter Sunday, the day after her television debut, Boyle - dubbed "The Woman Who Shut Up Simon Cowell" in one headline - received a standing ovation when she went to Mass.
"We let out a wee bit of a cheer for her. We are quite proud of her," Boyle's parish priest, the Rev. Ryszard Holuka, said in a telephone interview. He added that Boyle is a "quiet soul."
"At gatherings and anniversary parties, she'd stand up and give a song," he said. "She never flaunted her voice; this is the first time it's been publicly recognized."
As Jordan writes, "Many have said it was a poor reflection on both the live audience and others watching that they were surprised when a 'frumpy woman' turned out to have the 'voice of an angel.' "
Here are some other reactions to Boyle's performance from across the Web:
In our pop-minded culture so slavishly obsessed with packaging - the right face, the right clothes, the right attitudes, the right Facebook posts - the unpackaged artistic power of the unstyled, un-hip, un-kissed Ms. Boyle let me feel, for the duration of one blazing showstopping ballad, the meaning of human grace. She pierced my defenses. She reordered the measure of beauty. And I had no idea until tears sprang how desperately I need that corrective from time to time.
It offers a picture of our age's ?bercynical critics surprised by joy. It gives a glimpse of the creative capacity latent in who knows how many lives. And perhaps therefore it gives us a glimpse of the embodied glories that await us, the grace that waits just around the corner of our hopes and fears.
What a weight off our shoulders it is to not mock her. What a pleasure it is to see someone do well. How happy we feel, to feel happy for someone else, as the audience leaps to its feet and the judges unanimously praise her. She stands before us all, vulnerable and strong, joyful and clearly moved, and then we stand with her.
Sadie at Jezebel, "Susan Boyle Has Come To Save Us From Our Shallowness!"
To attempt this sort of show, but not to buy into the accepted mold, was an act of impunity that seemed to disregard of all the rules of the game, and made one fear that here was another deluded, oblivious person being exploited for laughs. Our joy was as much relief as surprise. And that joy is very real.
Susan Boyle appears to be totally sincere, unpretentious, and joyful. Her countenance - even while singing a very sad song - was constantly ebullient. She was also modest. Most contestants on these shows have a skewed sense of self-importance. Susan Boyle had the opposite - humility where she deserved pride. And it's reassuring to know that people like that still exist.
She's become a YouTube sensation, but why do we love her so much? She walks out on stage, and you expect to cringe when she fails and eventually laugh at her naivete. But you end up laughing in relief as she stuns the crowd - even Simon Cowell.
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