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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Larry Simoneaux
Bio: Larry Simoneaux
Date:  June 21, 2009
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Topic category:  Other/General

Talent amongst us.

As most of you probably know, Susan Boyle didn’t win the grand prize on a recent British talent show. Rather, after finishing second in the final episode, she basically went a little bonkers from exhaustion and the unrelenting pressure she’d been through over the course of several weeks.

Going bonkers, I’d say, is a fairly predictable outcome if, in the blink of an eye, you were to go from being a single, late-forties, unemployed, cat-loving, small-town Scottish woman to being a worldwide celebrity with calls from Oprah, interview requests from morning television shows, millions of “hits” on YouTube, your face in newspapers everywhere, and everything else that can happen in these days of instant fame.

This woman was one of us. She lived day-to-day. She went about her life in much the same way most of us do. Normalcy was her defining characteristic.

Then, one evening, she sang in front of a televised audience on a program called Britain’s Got Talent and the world she knew disappeared and was replaced by an alien landscape where only the likes of Paris, Britney, and others of that ilk seem comfortable.

Which, by the way, is not at all to their credit.

That she later ended up in treatment isn’t difficult to understand. In fact, a better question to ask ourselves would be just who among us wouldn’t start behaving like a bat in a ceiling fan were we to be fed - basically overnight - into the maw of the “24/7” news monster out there.

I believe that most of us would eventually end up wading into the news crowd and, then, begin trying to cram cameras and microphones down the throats of anyone asking us: “How does it feel to (place vapid or inane question here)?”

As a minor aside, I also believe that, were we to do so, most of us would also get off lightly as any jury in the civilized world would likely be made up of individuals who’d dearly love to do the same thing, given the chance.

Several years ago, I wrote about an evening in Savannah, Georgia.

We’d been working in the area for several weeks and, one night, several of us decided to go out, find a quiet restaurant, and have a decent meal.

We found a likely place, went in, settled at a table, and ordered.

The place was quiet, the drinks were well-made, and there was a piano bar.

After a bit, a young woman walked up to the piano and begin preparing for her set.

Our meal arrived just as she began her first number.

The meal was soon forgotten.

If you haven’t seen the YouTube video of Susan Boyle’s first appearance, bring it up on your computer and watch the faces of the judges and those in the audience.

That night in Savannah, a similar thing happened. This young lady was about 10 seconds into her first song when everyone in the restaurant basically stopped whatever they were doing to just listen to her.

That night, we experienced the same thing that millions experienced when Susan Boyle sang. It being the realization that the voice of angels doesn’t always come pre-announced by a media blitz or wrapped in a beautiful (and, often, improved by the wonders of plastic surgery) body.

Conversation stopping talent can pop up in front of you on a weekday evening in a small, out-of-the-way restaurant in Savannah, Georgia.

Susan Boyle didn’t win the contest she’d entered, but it didn’t matter.

Follow the comment threads attached to her internet videos and you’ll find that she did something far more important in these days of synthetic “stars” and “talent” that often escapes description.

What she did was reassure a lot of us out here that the good things we want (and these days, need) to believe in are still out there.

She reminded us that true talent - God given, not Hollywood manufactured - might be no farther away than our next door neighbor.

In Savannah, Georgia, an ordinary young lady held a small crowd captive for an entire evening.

I never saw or heard her again, but I believe that she’s still out there.

And, every now and then, I’d wager that she - like Susan Boyle - still brings people to a very pleasant and enjoyable stop.

And that, just now, is a very good thing.

Larry Simoneaux

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Biography - Larry Simoneaux

Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy and NOAA.

Read other commentaries by Larry Simoneaux.

Copyright © 2009 by Larry Simoneaux
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