Art and Entertainment

Susan Boyle

Scottish Newspaper Uncovers 1999 Recording Debut of Susan Boyle

April 17, 2009 04:30 AM
by Mark E. Moran
The 47-year-old woman from Scotland has become a global Internet sensation after her performance on “Britain's Got Talent.” Now Scotland's Daily Record has released a recording of Boyle's recording debut in 1999, singing “Cry Me a River” on a charity CD compilation.

Susan Boyle, the Humble Global Internet Sensation

On the Saturday, April 11 episode of “Britain's Got Talent,” 47-year-old Susan Boyle stunned the judges and audience. Walking timidly on stage in a neutral colored dress and little makeup, Boyle, who says she's never been kissed, was the antithesis of the young, often glossily made-over contestants that usually win such shows.

A video of Boyle's performance has generated more than 16 million views on YouTube. And almost a week after the performance, clips of her are ubiquitous on national news shows, Twitter streams, blog stories, and every other form of media.
The rarely complimentary Simon Cowell called the performance “extraordinary” and fellow judge Piers Morgan said it was “without a doubt the biggest surprise I have had in three years of this show.”  Even Cameron MacIntosh, producer of Les Miserables, pronounced himself  “gob-smacked” by the performance, calling it “one of the best versions of the song I've ever heard. Touching, thrilling and uplifting.”

Boyle lived with her parents her whole life, helping to care for a widowed mother for the past ten years.   Two years after her mother's death, she summoned up the courage to fulfill her mother's wish that Boyle share her talent with the world.  Her success shows how some adult children blossom after the death of a parent for whom they have been a caretaker.  It also proves that age is no obstacle to fulfilling a lifelong dream.

With much of the world clamoring to know more about Susan Boyle, Scottish newspaper The Daily Record has uncovered a 1999 charity CD on which Boyle sang a remarkable version of “Cry Me a River.” It demonstrates that, while Boyle is new to the public arena, her talent has a solid foundation.

“I was amazed when she sang,” said local newspaper editor Eddie Anderson, who helped create the CD. “It was probably the same reaction as everyone had last Saturday. Susan was exactly the same then as she is now. She has a fabulous and unique talent.”

Opinion: Understanding the reaction, and lessons to be drawn

While most Internet coverage says little more than “the woman who shut up Simon Cowell,” some writers are drawing lessons from the stunning performance and powerful reaction to it.

Colette Douglas Home of Britain’s The Herald, in a piece titled “The Beauty that Matters is Always on the Inside,” called Boyle’s story “a parable of our age. ... Her story is the stuff of Hans Christian Andersen: the woman plucked from obscurity, the buried talent uncovered, the transformation waiting to be wrought.” 

The episode is reminiscent of the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast,” in which a handsome prince is turned into a hideous beast for treating poorly a fairy who had feigned an old and haggard appearance. The three judges, 3,000 audience members, and millions of Internet users who initially snickered at Boyle suffered no such cruel fate. Our only punishment is that, as Jennifer Simmons of writes, “we all were served our egoes flatly in our laps.”

Entertainment Weekly writer Lisa Schwarzbaum, pondering why she cries as she replays the audition over and over again, concludes, “In our pop-minded culture so slavishly obsessed with packaging—the right face, the right clothes, the right attitudes, the right Facebook posts—the unpackaged artistic power of the unstyled, un-hip, un-kissed Ms. Boyle let me feel, for the duration of one blazing show stopping ballad, the meaning of human grace. She pierced my defenses. She reordered the measure of beauty. And I had no idea until tears sprang how desperately I need that corrective.”

Simmons sees Boyle’s triumph as the continuation of a trend. She writes “something new has begun taking place.  Something remniscient of my high school duality of heartfelt girl next door with a chosen hardcore, or even sometimes apathetic, exterior, yet still managing to carry the ‘whatever happens, happens’ attitude. You see, with the incredible gift of the Internet, the little man is gaining level ground.” 

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Reference: “Les Miserables” and “I Dreamed A Dream”


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