News · 01/16/2010

Ethel Rohan on 2009

Contributor Ethel Rohan (author of “Rocket Into A Pocket”) writes in response to our recent question about what sparked imaginations in 2009.

Scottish singer Susan Boyle’s rise to international fame and critical acclaim captures my imagination. Despite critics’ initial cynicism and derision, the juxtaposition of Boyle’s plain appearance, simple existence and superb voice has ultimately inspired the majority. Reaffirmed that hope is the cure to misery and that sometimes even the unlikeliest of us can win and win big.

At forty-eight, the daughter of a miner and a shorthand typist and the youngest of eleven children, Susan Boyle still lives in her meager family home, alone with her cat. She has learning differences, was bullied as a child (“Susie Simple”) and left school with few qualifications. Apart from a brief six month stint as a trainee cook, she has never been employed. Her previous singing experience was largely with her local church choir.

Suffice to say, Susan Boyle is not the typical stuff of superstardom. Yet her first album released in November 2009 has debuted as the number one best-selling CD on global charts. Her triumph is our triumph: she beat the odds of odds because she and we both disregarded the superficial and paid homage to her enormous talent. Her story also speaks to our yearning: who among us doesn’t want to win?