Sunday, April 19, 2009

Susan and the Four Thousand Judges

Susan Boyle is the new international music rage. This has come about after she appeared on Britain's Got Talent [BGT], shown on April 11. Her song was "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables. [Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer] Not only did she make it through this difficult song, she sang it with brilliance in a poignant and memorable performance.

There are many naysayers out there, including the one critic who claimed Susan's not 'a very good singer.' Bah! She's better than 90% of those US west coast warblers raking in the millions. And I've been impressed with the talent showing up in this and the last two editions of BGT: Connie Talbot; Paul Pots; Faryl Smith; Andrew Johnston; Escala---the list goes on. The 'America's Got Talent' [AGT] show is impressive, but I haven't followed it as well as the BGT---though I remember Terry Fator, Taylor Ware and little Kaitlyn Maher with pleasure.

At the audition, there was an initial dislike of Susan Boyle because of her appearance. I admit---and so does she---that she's a bit frowzy and plain looking, even a little over weight. You should't care. All great singers are not known for their thinness. After all, high cees take breath an abdominal strength beyond mortal man or woman. Even judge Amanda Holden commented "I am so thrilled because I know everyone was against you. We are all so cynical but that was a complete wake up call. It was a complete privilege" [to hear you.]

A few years ago, Deborah Voigt, a pre-eminent soprano, was told by Covent Garden she was too fat for the costumes. There was certainly a broo-ha-ha over that. But, because of increasing health problems, she had her stomach stapled and lost more than 135 pounds.
Once again invited to Covent Garden, she held no bitterness in accepting. In any case, no matter how fat or thin she is, she has a marvelous voice. Nobody can dispute that.

There are many other great singers who wouldn't win a beauty contest: Kate Smith, who was heavy all her singing life; Mahalia Jackson, another full-figured woman; Mama Cass, whose beautiful voice belied her excess weigh; Monserrat Caballe with the voice of an angel; and Maria Callas. Maria was a heavyweight in her early years before her weight loss program. And it was suggested that her voice seemed never quite the same after the excess weight disappeared. Personally, I didn't hear her until after her heyday, and I wasn't impressed by her voice or looks.

So, think about it. Does a person not among the beautiful people deserve to be heard and appreciated? Of course. And Susan Boyle can continue to captivate people with her voice whether the elite like it or not. All you beautiful people in Hollywood remember, you can be easily replaced by those of us common people with real god-given talents.

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