Susan Boyle: You go, lassie!

Published 11:59 pm Friday, April 17, 2009

Like many Americans, until this week I had never heard of Susan Boyle, a 47-year-old church volunteer and amateur singer who has never been married and lives with her cat in a small Scottish village.

I was reading a message board and came across a link to a YouTube video clip from the British reality show, “Britain’s Got Talent,” showing Boyle’s tremendous talent.

If you haven’t already seen it, you should drop what you’re doing right now and watch this clip. The URL for the video, which has already received more than 3 million views, is “” (or you can just search Youtube for “Susan Boyle.”)

There is so much that is wonderful about this video. When Boyle first walks out onto the stage, you can see in the audience’s reaction that they’re not expecting anything out of this homely woman except an opportunity to laugh. The cameraman even manages to catch a young female in the audience rolling her eyes at Boyle’s assertion that she’s always wanted to be a professional singer like Elaine Paige — a Broadway phenom.

Her song selection is an ambitious one — “I Dreamed a Dream” from the Broadway musical Les Miserables, arguably the most successful musical of all time. Yet, it is also a perfect selection for Boyle. After all, she is the one dreaming a dream, a dream that most would have said would be impossible for a woman like her.

She is not a plastic-surgery-altered Barbie doll; she does not have a million-dollar haircut; she not only has a lack of sleazy affairs, but admits that she has never been kissed. That is why it is so gratifying to watch Boyle, with her “average” looks put on such an incredible performance. If we could read the minds of those in the audience, you can be sure they were all thinking, “I had no idea such a voice could come from someone who looks like that.”

Boyle is the poster child for anyone who has ever been told, “You’re too fat,” “You’re too ugly,” “You’re too dumb,” “You’re too whatever,” and has risen above it all.

Watching this pop dynamo explode onto the stage, one can’t help but wonder how many other talented people have never been given a chance to shine, simply because they don’t fit into society’s preconceived notion of how a celebrity should look, act or speak.

At least one has managed to rise above the hate, the scorn and the ridicule, and is getting her well-deserved moment in the sun. It’s too early to tell whether Boyle will be the ultimate champion of the reality competition, or if she’ll ever get the chance to test her chops on London’s West End or on Broadway, but it doesn’t really matter.

She’s already a winner.