Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Singing Sensation

On New Year's Eve, one of the most widely watched shows on Japanese television ("Koh Haku" literally Red, White), which is an annual competition between men and women singers divided into teams [women = red, men = white], hosted a special foreign guest, the new singing sensation, Scotland's Susan Boyle.

My husband was sitting on the sofa, using the TV remote liberally, per usual, and I was nearby playing games on the computer, not really listening with much concentration to the TV, when suddenly he says, "Susan Boyle! It's Susan Boyle!" and I said, "Who??" (not having read about her in the paper, as he had). He called me over to watch her sing on Koh Haku, so I did.

A simple woman, in a gorgeous designer gown, was standing in front of a mike, with simple make up, and not much expression on her face, singing the song "I Dreamed a Dream" (which I later learned had been the song she sang on the talent competition show in the UK, where she was first discovered). Frankly, she looked like she could be the neighbor grocer lady, or the school librarian, or an Aunt Trudy somewhere, good at baking gingersnaps. She was Anywhere Woman; she was Everyone Woman. I instantly liked her. Of course, her voice was very nice--not affected or enhanced with tricks or vocal manipulations--it was a pleasant voice, a voice you enjoyed listening to, and could listen to forever without complaint.

I used to be a singer myself, before asthma ravaged my pulmonary equipment and robbed me of the excellent breath control I used to possess. I have a sharp ear, the daughter of a woman with perfect pitch, so I tend to be critical of singers in general, and hold a rather high standard when it comes to judging the vocal talents of others. Although I do not have perfect pitch, I can tell when a voice is off, even a little fraction (sharp or flat), so I am not usually 100% satisfied with the vocal endeavors of the majority of recording artists out there. But Susan Boyle's performance that night, despite being live and in front of a foreign audience in a foreign land (for surely she was nervous!) , seemed flawless and blessed by heaven itself. I was impressed, not with "star quality" but with her excellence in simplicity.

Today the CD I ordered through my food co-op, SUSAN BOYLE I Dreamed A Dream, arrived and I'm sitting here listening to it as I type. Not every recording is perfect, but darn near close! And like a gentle hand soothing the brow of a troubled child, her voice caresses my heart and gives me peace. I feel sorry for the western world who can't hear the bonus track for Japan, "Wings to Fly," which is the best song (closely followed by "Silent Night") in my opinion.

Earlier today, during my co-op delivery, my friend told me she'd heard that Susan Boyle began shouting in a loud voice at the airport suddenly (supposedly from stress, I guess). It isn't an impossible thought, is it, for a quiet and gentle soul living with her elderly folks to suddenly have her world turn upside down by being discovered on that show, trussed up and stuck in the spotlight to sing on show after show, told where to go and when, ripped from her home and her quiet lifestyle, to reach a point where she just couldn't handle it anymore, and need to give a scream (of protest? of fatigue? from hormones, or what?). It's not an impossible thought to me, anyway, and I hope Susan Boyle is given a little more space, a little more control over what happens in her tomorrows, so that her precious drop of heaven (her voice) isn't squeezed right out of her by celebrity and all the false glitter that goes with it.

Go on and holler, Susan! Make them stop a minute and rethink what they're doing to you. Take good care of you, because you are Anywhere Woman, you are Everyone Woman. If you don't look out for yourself, no one else will do it for you, I'm afraid. Thank you for the wonderful songs on your album and this peaceful feeling in my soul which was born while listening to them.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Relationship Maintenance

Along with the joys of reuniting with old friends on Facebook, I have been inspired to reach out to other friends (who aren't on Facebook) and try to rekindle our communication flow in an effort to maintain a present-tense relationship. This isn't an easy task, as people are busy with their lives and daily schedules, having left me long ago in their memories of high school.

One friend I have "recaptured" recently, and we are making an effort this week to see how much we can continue our ongoing conversation via email exchanges, now that the work week has begun. I have plenty of free time, so I must make the larger effort, and exert the most patience in waiting for replies. I'm not complaining; I have usually done this, even when we were active friends in school, so I'm accustomed to it. It is such a thrill for me to see my email inbox hold yet another entry...perhaps it is from her, and we can take our discussion on husbands, or health issues, or work, or movies, or whatever! one step further.

God made me a born communicator. I'm never happy unless I'm connecting with someone on a genuine, heartfelt level, pouring loving energy into relationship maintenance!!