Friday, April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle Reminds the World Why We Sing

I received the attachment by email - "Clark, you've got to see this!"

The ordinary woman appeared on my screen and I immediately wondered why I would interrupt my busy day. My friend has been in the music industry for many years and he doesn't routinely spam me. I watched, and like millions of people around the world, I had to blink to see what I was listening to.

As Colette Douglas Home wrote in the Herald:

Not only do you have to be physically appealing to deserve fame; it seems you now have to be good-looking to merit everyday common respect. If, like Susan (and like millions more), you are plump, middle-aged and too poor or too unworldly to follow fashion or have a good hairdresser, you are a non-person. I dread to think of how Susan would have left the stage if her voice had been less than exceptional. She would have been humiliated in front of 11 million viewers. It's the equivalent of being put in the stocks in front of the nation instead of the village. It used to be a punishment handed out to criminals. Now it is the fate of anyone without obvious sexual allure who dares seek opportunity.

This small, brave soul took her courage in her hands to pitch at her one hope of having her singing talent recognised, and was greeted with a communal sneer. Courage could so easily have failed her.

Yet why shouldn't she sound wonderful? Not every great singer looks like Katherine Jenkins. Edith Piaf would never have been chosen to strut a catwalk. Nor would Nina Simone, nor Ella Fitzgerald. As for Pavarotti But then ridicule is nothing new in Susan Boyle's life. She is a veteran of abuse. She was starved of oxygen at birth and has learning difficulties as a result. At school she was slow and had frizzy hair. She was bullied, mostly verbally. She told one newspaper that
her classmates' jibes left behind the kind of scars that don't heal.

She didn't have boyfriends, is a stranger to romance and has never been kissed.

"Shame," she said. Singing was her life-raft...
Thank you, Susan, for reminding us of what beauty really looks like.