Dream is the most metaphorically used word in human recollection. To achieve it would be to repaint that blurred painting that was left untouched in the reverie and to not achieve it would be a common trait of mortality, failure. There are many who like to dream. Some dream of the extraordinary to escape their despondent lives while some dream of normalcy, to escape the theatrics of their daily routine. The woman who I am going to write about did the former and she did it well. Seldom have people seen their reveries so well that they could actually reciprocate it in their lives. Susan Magdalane Boyle did it.
In an age when sexualisation of music is rampant, 49 year old Susan Boyle stepped out to audition for Britain’s Got Talent in front of millions of television watchers, most of whom were ready to ridicule her from the get go. Susan looked out of place with her unkempt hair and unflattering dress, an uncomplimentary quirk and her Scottish small town presence. Charmers go a long way in life because of their looks, their aura and their appeal. This stockily built dame however had no charm. She was an imminent recipe of failure that these reality shows loved to portray, a play on audience laughter without any regards for feeling or compassion. When asked her age she told her age and said that it was only “a part of her”. A cheeky smile and abominable quirk allowed Simon Cowel, who was judging the show, to mock her when she said that she wanted to big as Elaine Paige, a great Singer and Broadway performer. It almost seemed like it was foolish for this 49 year old to dream. And then she sang, and as they say, the rest is history.
Being born to a miner and a shorthand typist in the small town of West Lothian, did not give Susan the adequate opportunity to be successful. Added to that was the fact she had Asperger’s syndrome, which made her stand out in the crowd. Bullies taunted her and called her “Susie Simple”. She left school with a few qualifications, did some meagre jobs and performed in the local watering holes and other venues. However, a small town like West Lothian was too small a cage for her. Upon being pestered by her mother, Susan enrolled herself in Britain’s Got Talent.
The song which she selected was a beast, one of the greatest songs from one of the most iconic Broadway plays of all time, Les Miserables. The bloated pride of the audience which laughed in hushes earlier, was silenced into a shock when she started singing. Absolute control, dynamic vocals and an operatic dexterity saw her take an unbelievably difficult song and run with it to the kingdom of her dreams. The song which she sang was “I Dreamed a Dream”. The judges and the audience gave her a standing ovation, an apology and a assurance of a better future. Her success was indomitable and her audition became a worldwide phenomenon, courtesy the bloom of the social media. An unknown miner’s daughter had soon become the nation’s sweetheart. People saw in her their own ambitions, their own inhibitions and their own limitations. They wanted her to succeed because that would validate that ambitions and dreams are ageless and conquerable. Susan Boyle was interviewed by legends like Oprah and Larry King but all this fame and recognition eventually took a toll on her. She lost the final of Britain’s Got Talent and was hospitalised due to extreme exhaustion. That, dear readers, was the lull before a storm.
Her first album I Dreamed a Dream was a runaway success. It topped the UK albums chat and I Dreamed a Dream also outsold the rest of the top 5 albums combined in its first week. Needless to say that was Susan Boyle’s year. She sang in front of filled houses, performed in front of Pope Benedict XVI and was voted the seventh most influential person of the year by the People’s Magazine. People forgot that she has an ordinary looking, stockily built broad who was nearing half a century. She was the enigma that captured the minds of the people, her powerful voice provided fodder to those who were frustrated by the gimmicks of the music industry. Her cover of the rolling stones classic “Wild Horses” floored audiences in America when she performed it for America’s Got Talent. She was the Scottish-woman who achieved the American dream. Her album was second only to Taylor Swift’s phenomenally successful ‘Fearless’ in the billboards top 200 albums chart. Since then she has sold 19 million albums and has been nominated for two Grammy awards.
So, how can you conclude an article about this phenomenal lady? You can say that she wanted to have a success comparable to Elaine Paige’s but she has raced past her (and sang with her). You can say that she defied the sexual and ageist trends of the music industry with a voice that was supernatural. You can say that her life is so inspiration that they are planning to make a motion picture about it. You can say that she dreamt a dream and she crafted that same dream into the canvas of her existence. That quirky, cheeky, extremely sassy supernaturally talented lady is my hero and a dream to many.