Saturday, July 14, 2007

Paul Potts wins over the weather

14 July 2007
5:30 PM

When was the last time that you felt the melancholic weather outside resonated inside you?

I experienced that today - until a modern-day "Cinderella man" or "Cinderfella" and his tale came to the rescue.

We had an overcast day here in Naga City. It seems that the sun has played hide and seek with the clouds today, the whole day. The trees danced with the cool wind, slowly; gracefully, and an ethereal mist seems to fill the air. And just like that, I was in a pensive mood again. I felt the gloomy weather reverberated inside me.

Like many times in the past, I sought refuge from music and found it, but this time, a great inspiring story was in tow. It is courtesy of Paul Potts, that unassuming, yet extremely talented singer and former mobile phone salesman from Port Talbot in South Wales (UK) who wowed us all (including someone like me who is outside Britain - thanks to YouTube for the access) and romped away with the top prize in the very first season of Britain's Got Talent, a British Television show created by my favorite American Idol judge Simon Cowell.


Paul admitted that he was bullied when he was a kid, and his voice has always been a source of solace. His official website tells us:

Bullied at school for being 'different', he realised growing up that he had one true friend and that was his voice. Singing was his escape. He was able to lose himself in his own little world - the vicious words of his tormentors replaced by hauntingly beautiful lyrics and melodies that lifted his heart and spirit. It was a love, a passion, a lifeline that would follow Paul into adulthood and help him through many more periods of adversity. But it was also a gift that was destined to go largely undiscovered, due to a crushing lack of self-confidence that has dogged this hard working and humble man throughout his 36 years.

Despite all, this humble bloke persevered in life in pursuit of his dream and his passion. He attended classes in Italy, using the money he won from another tv show, to learn more. For the love of his art, he joined opera performances but was never paid. He suffered from burst appendix; broke his collar bone in an accident; and has struggled all throughout his life due to his chronic lack of self esteem and fear of rejection.

Then, enter Britain's Got Talent. And the rest, as they say, is history. For once, fate smiled on the man who appeared to be too shy to smile probably because he is so self-conscious of his very crooked teeth, as many observers noted.


His feet have barely touched the ground since his victory last Sunday and he's got a host of engagements to prepare for. The Thursday after winning, Paul flew to New York to perform in the plaza for NBC's Today show - just days after Enrique Iglesias played the same venue and, the previous week, JonBon Jovi! Then he'll be back to the UK to start work on his first album.

And, of course, there's also the VIP performance for which he was competing in Britain's Got Talent - appearing in front of Her Majesty the Queen at the Royal Variety Performance in early December.

"It has changed my whole life. I used to feel so small and insignificant. But now I know I am someone - I am Paul Potts and this is what I do"
"It has done so much for my confidence and I really can't thank people enough for giving me the chance to realise my dream. To be given an opportunity like this is more than I ever could have hoped for. Finally, I am going to be doing what I've always felt I was put here to do - something I love and that gives me so much joy."


On the one hand, rediscovering Paul Potts, his gift, and his music is indeed, to borrow Simon's remark, a complete breath of fresh air. I was, for the most part of it, with heart racing and goose bumps all over, fighting back tears, nodding; rooting for the guy - and for all the things that for me he symbolizes. I thought something so wonderful blossomed or unfolded again before my eyes, and it was music magic all over again!

On the other hand, his story nudges me to think of the other similar and wonderful stories of triumphs amid the odds happening everyday around us. Hope, inspiration and the innate greatness of the human spirit time and again are able to break out of and break free from the shackles of a painful past, poverty, and despair and in the process, moving us who stand witnesses to this to make things happen for ourselves, or at least, to sit back and cogitate about our own situations in life; or maybe, just maybe - encouraging us to dream, believe, and love again.

And when such thing happens, the world, I know, becomes a bit better.

Dusk is here already, and it's starting to drizzle outside.

Inside me, I can feel some kind of warmth, and sunshine, and -- hmm, renaissance arising -- the mist and weather notwithstanding.

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