Monday, April 20, 2009

Susan Boyle

(CNS) -- The audience snickered and the judges of "Britain's Got Talent" either rolled their eyes or allowed their blank expressions to betray their bemused skepticism as the awkward-looking middle-aged woman told them she wanted to be as famous as the popular British actress and singer Elaine Paige.

Then Susan Boyle began to sing, and they were spellbound and shocked by the beauty of her voice and rose to their feet in applause.

But Father Basil Clark, who watched the show on television at his home in Broxburn, Scotland, was not surprised.

He has seen the situation unfold many times before, having regularly accompanied Boyle, 47, on the annual Legion of Mary pilgrimage to the Marian shrine in Knock, Ireland.

"When I watched the judges' faces it reminded me of what I was like when I first saw Susan singing -- absolutely blown away by the quality of the singing and by that fantastic voice," said Father Clark, dean of West Lothian, the district that covers Boyle's home village of Blackburn.

"Anyone who sees her for the first time behaves the same way. I have never heard her sing badly, though she might lose the words if the stress gets too much," he told Catholic News Service in an April 16 telephone interview.

Boyle first appeared before judges Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden on the ITV1 sister show of "America's Got Talent"; it was broadcast April 11.

Her fame spread on the Internet, and in just five days she had attracted more than 15 million YouTube viewings of her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream," from the musical "Les Miserables."

Part of Boyle's attraction is that she appears to be such an unlikely candidate for stardom. She said on TV that she has "never been kissed" and has lived alone with her cat since her mother died in 2007.

According to British media, she has learning disabilities as a result of being starved of oxygen at birth. She is unemployed and, as a churchgoing Catholic, her social life revolves around her family and her parish of Our Lady of Lourdes. She also enjoys karaoke in her local pub.

"In a sense, there is a beautiful voice trapped in this damaged body," he said. "It is an absolute contrast. There she was on television acting very peculiarly and the audience was expecting peculiar things to happen and then a voice of an angel comes out -- and that's Susan."

"People are slightly worried about what might happen after this bout of fame," he explained.

"It is a great opportunity for her and as far as I am concerned she should make the best of it, and if it lasts, it lasts, and if it doesn't, then it's still more than almost any one of us will ever achieve," he added. "It is important in sustaining her and making sure this is all a very, very beneficial experience."

He described Boyle as "a woman of great faith" who was often "very gentle and very caring" though she could also be "needy and demanding."

The world's media has camped outside Boyle's home where she grew up and where she still sleeps in the same room as when she was a child.

But Boyle has decided to temporarily escape the limelight to stay with friends as she prepares for the next round of the competition, in which she is expected to sing "Whistle Down the Wind," by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

She did give an interview to "The Early Show" on CBS News in which she said that her instant fame "hasn't really sunk in yet."

She said that she wanted to make her performance "a tribute to my mother" who had encouraged her to sing.

"I knew it was something I had to do," she said. "I had to get on with it. That's where the courage came from, my mother.

"The ones who made fun of me are now nice to me," she said. "So, I think I may have won them 'round."


Anonymous said...

Quite amazing!The youngest of 9 also very inspiring. Celine Dion is the youngest of 14..

pelerin said...

I'm glad you have put this on here. Following the publicity last week I found the You tube video and was entranced by this ladies beautiful voice and moved by her story.

Many celebrities have been destroyed by sudden fame but I am sure that with the continuing help of her family, her parish priest and her fellow parishioners she will remain the natural person she so obviously is.

I do hope her singing brings her true happiness and I wish her well in what will no doubt be a big change in her life.

lovegod77 said...

God Bless You. Though suffering we become more like God. The hidden gifts of God come though like a shinning Star. Sussan you are that shinning STAR. WE ALL LOVE YOU. You Give us hope.

Night Hawk said...

Thanks for a different take on this story. Susan Boyle has a beautiful voice and even without knowing that she has a disability, you worry about what fame - sic transit gloria - will leave in its wake. I wish her well. I hope all her dreams come true.

Daisy said...

I hope Father Basil Clark obtained Susan's permission before revealing those details of her private life.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Kara USA, I've edited Fr Boyle a bit.

Amelia said...

I was moved to tears when I first saw the video on you tube. What an amazing story. However, I must agree with Daisy - It's just not professional for her parish priest to describe her as "needy and demanding".

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