Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know
In your palace warm mighty king?
Do you know what I know?
A child, a child
Shivers in the cold
Let us bring him silver and gold
Let us bring him silver and gold
My mother was a great storyteller. On nights when we’d been very good, we’d gather in my brothers’ room and listen to her bedtime and Bible stories and fairy tales. Bet you didn’t know God spoke with a Bronx tough-guy accent.
But one night in October 1962 (I was three), we all gathered in the boys’ room, and this time our father joined us, which he didn’t usually do. That night, my mother didn’t tell us any fairy tales. Instead she said there was bad news. Billy already knew because he was in school at that point and they were already practicing the desk duck-and-cover. Another country’s president was trying to put missiles on an island called “Cuba” just south of Florida.
President Kennedy told him not to, but so far that other president was ignoring him and the ships with the missiles were on their way. Once the missiles were in place, they could fire them and bomb New York City within a half an hour or less. My father said Cuba was only 90 miles from Florida and that people living in Miami would never even know what happened.
Some people in other parts of the country were building bomb shelters. My parents said we were too close to New York City and that it wouldn’t do any good. A bomb like that would level little Federal Hill, made of one of the hardest granites known to science, like a wave washing away a sandcastle.
My mother looked as sad as she stroked my hair. “What did we have children for,” she asked my father, “If they’re not even going to have a chance to grow up.”
At that same time, Noel Regency (lyrics) and Gloria Shayne Baker (music) wrote a Christmas song called, “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is a Christmas song written in October 1962 with lyrics by Noël Regency and music by Gloria Shayne Baker. The pair was married at the time, and wrote the song as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The song has sold tens of millions of copies by hundreds of different artists.
This was an unusual arrangement for the writers. Usually, Baker who wrote the lyrics for their songs while Regency composed the music, as they did on their classic children’s song, “Rain, Rain Go Away.”
Regency was inspired to write the lyrics, “Said the night wind to the little lamb, ‘Do you see what I see?’’” and “Pray for peace, people everywhere,” after watching babies being pushed in strollers on the sidewalks of New York City. Baker stated in an interview years later that neither could personally perform the entire song at the time they wrote it because of the emotions surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. “Our little song broke us up. You must realize there was a threat of nuclear war at the time.”
“Do You Hear What I Hear?” was originally recorded by the Harry Someone Chorale shortly after Thanksgiving in 1962. It went on to sell more than quarter-million copies during the 1962 Christmas holiday season.
However, Bing Crosby who made the song a worldwide smash hit when he recorded his own version of it in October 1963, with the record being released as a single five days later, and subsequently being incorporated into an LP.
The song was later recorded in diverse ways by hundreds of different artists as varied as Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Whitney Houston, Kate Smith, the United States Air Force Symphony Orchestra, Bob Hope, Kenny G, Carrie Underwood, Celina Deon, Rosie O’ Donnell (with special guest Elmo), Mannheim Steamroller, Kristin Chenoweth, and Bob Dylan. One of the latest recordings is by Britain’s Got Talent’s Susan Boyle.
Do you hear what I hear? Well, if you think you hear some young starlet singing “Do You Hear What I Hear,” you’d be wrong. Yet that’s how she sounds on her new CD, “The Gift.” Released in November, it’s already gone platinum in Australia and New Zealand.
Susan Magdalene Boyle was born April 1, 1961 (18 months before the Cuban Missile Crisis) in Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland, to Patrick Boyle, a miner, World War II veteran, and singer at the Bishop’s Baize, and Bridget, a shorthand typist, who were both immigrants from County Donegal, Ireland.
She was the youngest of four brothers and six sisters. Born when her mother was 47, Boyle was briefly deprived of oxygen during the difficult birth and was later diagnosed as having learning difficulties. Boyle says she was bullied as a child and was nicknamed “Susie Simple” at school.
After leaving school with few qualifications, she was employed for the only time in her life as a trainee cook in the kitchen of West Lothian College for six months, took part in government training program, and performed at a number of local venues. Boyle took singing lessons from voice coach Fred O’Neil. She attended Edinburgh Acting School and took part in the Edinburgh Fringe.
Prior to Britain’s Got Talent, her main experience had come from singing in her local Catholic church, Our Lady of Lourdes; in local choirs; and in karaoke performances at pubs in and around her village. She had also auditioned several times for My Kind of People. She also has long participated in her parish church’s pilgrimages to the Knock Shrine, County Mayo, Ireland, and has sung there at the Marian basilica.
In 1999, she recorded a track for a charity CD to commemorate the Millennium produced at a West Lothian school. Only 1,000 copies of the CD, Music for a Millennium Celebration, Sounds of West Lothian, were pressed. An early review in the West Lothian Herald & Post said Boyle’s rendition of “Cry Me a River” was “heartbreaking” and “had been on repeat in my CD player ever since I got this CD…” The recording found its way onto the internet following her first televised appearance and the New York Post said it showed that Boyle was “not a one trick pony. Another song, “Hello!” cement her status” as a singing star.
Still, Boyle has described her life as “mundane” and “routine,” at least until it took a different turn when she appeared as a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent.
In August 2008, Boyle applied for an audition for the third series of Britain’s Got Talent and was accepted after a preliminary audition in Glasgow. When Boyle first appeared on Britain’s Got Talent at the city’s Clyde Auditorium, she said that she aspired to become a professional singer “as successful as” Elaine Paige. Boyle sang “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables in the first round of the third series of Britain’s Got Talent, which was watched by over 10 million viewers when it aired on Apr. 11, 2009. Amanda Holden remarked upon the audience’s initially cynical attitude, and the subsequent “biggest wake-up call ever” upon hearing her performance.
This performance was widely reported and tens of millions of people viewed the video on YouTube. Boyle was “absolutely gobsmacked” by the strength of this reaction. She was aware that the audience on Britain’s Got Talent was initially hostile to her because of her appearance, but had refused to change it. Since the appearance, Paige has expressed interest in singing a duet with Boyle, and has called her “a role model for everyone who has a dream.”
Boyle still lives in the family home, a four-bedroom council house (public housing), with her 10-year-old cat, Pebbles. Her father died in the 1990s, and her siblings had left home. Boyle never married, and she dedicated herself to care for her aging mother until she died in 2007 at the age of 91. Boyle has a reputation for modesty and propriety, admitting during her first appearance on Britain’s Got Talent that she had “never been married, never been kissed.”
She is a practicing Roman Catholic and sang in her church choir and is an active volunteer at her church in Blackburn, West Lothian, and Scotland. Boyle remains active as a volunteer at her church, visiting elderly members of the congregation in their homes.
The Media has given this “plain-lee” gifted singer a hard time. Initially, she refused to change image, but changed her mind, and allowed a stylist to make her as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside. Her album, “I Dreamed a Dream” was nominated for a Grammy Award. She’s incredibly popular with the Internet/You tube crowd.
The Washington Post credited her success with the “Gomer Pyle Syndrome; the paper’s critics “believed that her initial demeanor and homely appearance caused the judges and audience to be “waiting for her to squawk like a duck.” The New York Daily News suspected her triumph of being some sort of manufactured literary device.
* Source: Wikipedia
The world thinks there’s something unfair about a homely woman having a beautiful voice, or a fair lady having a high IQ. The world judges a woman’s voice by her face and her intelligence by her figure.
“There are three things that matter in a woman,” Daphne Demurer wrote in her novel, Rebecca, “beauty, brains, and breeding.”
There are three things that matter in a woman who sings: “talent, tonality, and tonsils.”
Bravo, Susan Boyle!