Last Thursday night, we had the joy of attending Susan Bole’s one-night concert at the Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts in Costa Mesa. We got our tickets shortly after they went on sale. Our seats were in the front row at the center of the balcony. Nice unobstructed view.
The show began with Lance Ellington, a talented singer, who sang a couple of numbers ala Michael Buble. Then he introduced the lady we had come to see.
She appeared in silhouette while the audio of her introduction to the judges on Britain’s Got Talent was played. No one who has ever seen the original video with the judges’ reactions will ever forget it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnHL5QaFYJE
Finally, she appeared in the spotlight.
Her stylists have done a great job with her clothing, hair, and makeup. She looks at least ten years younger than she did when she first burst upon the scene.
Then she opened her mouth, and that amazing voice burst forth. I am stunned whenever I hear her youthful tone and the total mastery and control she displays. Her selection of material provided tremendous variety in tempo and styles.
She was accompanied by a seven-piece orchestra and two female backup singers plus Lance Ellington. However, she sang most of her songs solo.
She finished the first set with a moving rendition of “You Raise Me Up,” accompanied by the Costa Mesa High School Choir. The song always makes me cry, and this time was no exception. I wondered how she could possibly top it at the end of the show, and then I realized she could.
She began the second set with “Oh Happy Day,” once again with the kids. Upbeat, and filled with energy, the song brought her back with a bang.
Each song seemed to have deep personal meaning for her, and she shared her connection to the music with the audience, who responded with love. Many Brits and Scots displayed their colors throughout the crowd. A group with distinct Scottish brogues sat behind us and fully delighted in the evening.
Susan still has moments onstage when she returns to the awkward little Scottish lady who gathered her courage and overcame her fears in order to go for her life’s dream. Those displays of awkwardness make her seem even more appealing and accessible.
A number of the songs came from her new album, “Hope,” coming next week. (Mine is already on pre-order.) The song “I Can Only Imagine” always reminds me of my friend from Downey Savings. Lily passed away from cancer, and this was her favorite song. I always miss her when I hear it.
Several of the songs were new to me, but all suited her voice and style. I own her other albums, and I’m delighted whenever one plays on my iPod. (I have my playlists set up to play at random because I enjoy the surprise.)
From first song to last, the quality of her voice remained powerful. To me, it seemed even better hearing it in live performance.
The little Scottish lady who had the audacity to think she could compete with the younger and more attractive performers on Britain’s Got Talent dreamed a dream. Each step along the way, she has met and far exceeded each goal. Right now, she is fulfilling another dream: a tour off the US.
As expected, she closed the show with the song which launched her career. The audience responded enthusiastically from the first note. Somehow, the lyrics totally encompassed everything this unassuming lady had spent her whole life preparing for. Despite how overwhelming the initial reaction to her was, causing her to withdraw to adjust, she now seems to have found a place where she is comfortable with her fame.
Of course, “I Dreamed a Dream” brought a long, standing ovation. (Several other songs had received standing ovations throughout the show, but this one surpassed the rest.)
What a wonderful life lesson in pursuing our vision, even when no one else believes in it. And what a wonderful gift she has given to the world.
If she comes to your city, don’t miss the chance to see her in person.
Have you ever stayed the course when others encouraged you to give up? Was the struggle worth the discouragement and frustration?