If you have not yet heard Susan Boyle sing “I Dreamed a Dream” (from “Les Miserables”) for the show “Britain’s Got Talent” then you must go have a listen. Right now. Run don’t walk. Here is the link. This unemployed 47-year-old volunteer church-worker from Scotland captivated the world instantly with her extraordinary singing voice. A regular plain Jane, who perhaps was not even wearing make-up as she appeared on TV in front of millions, Ms. Boyle did not look glamorous or even gifted. The judges were just shy of making fun of her before she sang. A frumpy lady with a dream of singing on the big stage. But she was not fazed by any of it. She had a presence. She knew in her heart that she had a gift. She was simply there to share it with whomever cared to listen. And share it she did. Even more moving than her singing were the expressions on the faces of the judges and those in the audience as it dawned on them that they were being given a supreme gift from this unassuming woman.
Why does her triumph move us so? Because she is everyone. We are all gifted. Most of us do not get a chance to stand up on a stage in front of the world and receive recognition for our special talents, but we continue to use these talents every day. Cooking, fixing cars, providing child care for children, dancing, writing, drumming, making people laugh, healing, repairing, building, caring for others, teaching, whatever it is we do. Unnoticed. Unglamorous. I sometimes think about my friend Glenn Star, who had lupus and died at 40. He should have won an academy award for teaching special education, which he did with stunning grace, humor, and, yes, beauty, just as he did everything in his short life. Susan Boyle was just a person, doing what she does, using her talent. And for once, just once, the world stood up and noticed a little person’s dazzling spirit and appreciated. Those witnessing this event (live and vicariously on YouTube) cheer because it touches us to see this ordinary woman with an extraordinary voice as she humbly reminds us that we must never judge a person’s capacity for brilliance by their appearance. There are countless jewels among us like this woman. Now, really, go have a listen. Thank you Susan Boyle for singing for us.
(To read more about Ms. Boyle’s rise and who she is go to this article in the NY Times.)