Potty over Potts? The reason why Paul Potts has become the people’s Pavarotti
Posted by E on October 23, 2007
Potty over Potts – the reason why Paul Potts is becoming the people’s Pavarotti
His tenor range is astounding, and even though his technique could use some polishing up, Paul Potts has found his niche, percariously sandwiched between Pavarotti and Bocelli.
The reason – with his hobbit-like pudgy figure, his crooked front teeth and his misty-eyed sadness, he personifies everyman. His talent is not propelled by surgically-altered, photoshop-ed good looks; his stories of low self-esteem and being bullied in school ring true to all of us who have been there. As a true underdog, he is one of us; he represents the millions of average looking people who go about their mundane days, secretly harbouring talents that they do not believe would ever take them anywhere.
The difference between Paul Potts and your local butcher, or that guy who sold you the paper this morning, only came out of the flip of a coin. Dejected after several previous failed attempts at breaking into the opera world, now a cell phone salesman working 3 jobs, Paul decided he would flip a coin to decide whether he should audition for Britain Got Talent. The coin landed on heads, and Paul’s future changed forever.
How broken can this man’s self-confidence have been, to have to rely on the flip of a coin to make this decision for him? As he stood on that stage in his cheap $70 polyester suit singing his heart out, in that one moment in time doing what he was born to do, he must have had no idea that he would capture the attention and affection of millions of people throughout the world. According to interviews done after he won Britain’s Got Talent, Potts confessed that the audition was to be his last performance, after which he would hang up his musical hat and quit opera. So many hard knocks, the lack of money to pursue further lessons, coupled with his health problems and bike accident from the previous year, had led him to that climactic moment of Should I quit now, or just flip a coin and go to that audition?
This week I bought his new CD – One Chance. It is beautiful. His Nessun Dorma made me cry, and only Pavarotti’s version has ever done that. Though not nearly as powerful as Luciano, I do think his voice is better than Bocelli’s, and with enough work I truly believe he could rival Mario Lanza.
It’s worth the money if you can get your hands on it. So few opera and classical CDs these days are worth the glossy covers they’re printed on. Certainly, this CD is far superior to the drivel produced by pretty boys Il Divo and Josh Groban.
Paul Potts is a miracle of the average, a foot-soldier in the wars to come – the impending wars against the pretty, the skinny, the superficial. He is our banner in the revolution toward meaning. His heart-felt singing brings back images of earlier times, sunny Italian days where a young Caruso serenaded his friends and relatives over vino and olives on the vibrant crooked streets of Napoli. Potts’ voice makes us cry and laugh together; it greets us like old friends and invites us over for a pint and a ditty.
His triumph is not only that of the everyman, it is the confirmation that any one of us can follow a dream – it is a dream that nobody thinks you can achieve, that you keep hidden inside, afraid that others will laugh at you or tease you for being so foolish or too lofty in your goals. And so the dream just burns you up inside, eats at your willpower like a tapeworm, and while you go about your everyday, for many years, getting up to go to work and spending all your days answering to other people, ignoring that which you are really meant to do – and through all this, your dream remains caged inside your heart like a bird.
But one day, the bird demands to break free or to die. Because all of us eventually come to that crossroads, where we have to make the choice – do we continue being fearful, or do we allow ourselves to leap into the unknown, risking the shame of fall in order to honour the soaring of our spirits. So many people keep themselves too numb so they do not have to face this choice. Someday, they say, someday I will do this or that. But does that someday ever come for them?
There will come a day when you will be faced with a choice. Do I risk everything to be the person I’ve always known myself to be, and allow it to emerge beyond the jeers, laughter or catcalls that may follow? Can I be honest enough with myself to stand still in front of a mirror, look myself in the eye and know something nobody else does – that I am far greater than this, this person everybody else believes I am? Will today be the day when that bird will fly out of the cage of my heart into the essence of my being?
We are so hungry for something, a sign of something beyond this talentless void that is modern culture, that when someone like Potts comes along, a fragile, chipped-toothed man with the soul of a pearl, the world recognizes and embraces him as a prodigal brother and son. In his success, as in the vibrant echo of his voice, our essence also soars unfettered.