I couldn't let the "instant" success of Susan Boyle go without comment. Susan Boyle, 47 year old contestant on the TV show Britain's Got Talent, captured the hearts of the judges and the audience with her rendition of I dreamed a dream (from Les Mis). The snickers stopped as soon as she began to sing. One YouTube video clip of the performance has had 19 million hits as of the writing of this post. Susan Boyle wants to be a professional singer, and judging from the world's response, she will fulfill her dream.
A recent book, The Voice, by Thomas Quasthoff, relates experiences that are in some respects similar to those of Susan Boyle. Thomas Quasthoff is a German bass-baritone who has described himself as "1.3 meters tall, short arms, seven fingers -- four right, three left -- large relatively formed head, brown eyes, distinctive lips; profession: singer." In his initial professional appearance, the snickers stopped as soon as he started singing, just as they did for Susan Boyle. Quasthoff is an international reknowned classical singer who has broken many barriers for people with disabilities -- his a result of the thalidomide his mother took during her pregnancy.
Musical talent is not dependent on a beautiful appearance, youth, or any of the other ways people are stereotyped. One of the competition's judges called Susan Boyle's performance "a wake up call."
If anything can be learned from Susan Boyle, it is to develop your talents, use them, and go for your dreams.