No Miniskirts Required
Jessica Phillips | April 23, 2009
By now, several million people have viewed the Youtube video of Britian's Got Talent singer Susan Boyle-the 47-year-old, frizzy-haired caregiver who wowed the crowd and judges (most notably, the uber-cynical Simon Cowell of American Idol fame) with her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables. (To check out her performance, visit youtube.com and search for "Susan Boyle".)
The crowd had already passed its judgment on Boyle before she ever sang a note-some rolled their eyes and laughed at her statement that she wanted to be like superstar Elaine Paige. And why? Because she doesn't fit the physical mold audiences expect from their performers these days. As soon as Boyle hit her first notes, however, the laughter abruptly changed to cheering, clapping, and a standing ovation before she even reached the chorus. Even Cowell was staring in amazement.
Audiences miss out on hearing wonderful new talent because the talent comes wrapped in a few extra pounds, an unfashionable hairstyle, or dowdy clothes. Country music in general has certainly fallen prey to the "looks sell" mantra at times with eye-catching and moderately talented Artists. But Boyle's simple performance is a stunning reminder to music fans and industry vets alike-beautiful is more than physical. A heart-piercing lyric, an emotional and honest vocal and a down-to-earth performance-the very things country music was built on-still have the power to stir up an audience, gain new listeners, and launch a career. No miniskirts or onstage acrobatics required.