Have you ever heard of Paul Potts? No, no, no....not Cambodian dictator Pol Pot. Paul Potts.
If you haven't - you're far from alone. However, it's surprising, considering that Paul Potts has become an overnight celebrity in Britain where absolutely everyone is talking about him. He also has the blogosphere buzzing, and is scheduled to sing for none-other than the Queen.
Paul is a shy, doughy, snaggle-toothed cell phone salesman from Cardiff, Wales, who makes grown men and women including myself, weep when he sings. Don't believe me? Join the six million-plus people who have taken a minute or two to click over to YouTube and watch this man's audition on Britain's Got Talent (created by American Idol executive producer Simon Fuller).
Potts brought the Brits to their feet, cheering not only after but during his performance of "Nessum Dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot," one of the most recognizable arias in all of opera. The three judges, including perpetually cranky Simon Cowell, were gob smacked.
I can't describe what happened any better than an anonymous reader, who emailed this description of Potts to The National Review Online:
"His (Potts) expression before he begins to sing is that of a man resigned to disappointment. Even when he smiles, his eyes convey a profound sadness. He has been a nobody all his life. He, and perhaps only he, knows he has greatness inside of him, but he is obviously a humble man, massively insecure, afraid of rejection, unsure of himself outside the cocoon of anonymity. But you get the feeling he also knows that this may be the one chance he gets to escape the cocoon, and as he begins to sing, you can see him fighting down his fear."
I'm not being overly dramatic when I tell you just how courageous Potts's performance was - and how moving the whole moment is.
After winning the hearts and votes of Great Britain, Potts moved into the final - where his performance, also available on YouTube, is every bit as stunning as his audition. That he beat out a 6-year old, a monkey puppet and a break dancing troupe to win BGT is no reflection on his true talent - just a reflection of how bonkers British TV producers are.
It's amazing that's Potts's story - growing up poor amid thugs who constantly bullied him ...and later pursuing his dream of singing opera, only to run out of money in Italy and return to South Wales to sell mobile phones in a pay-as-you-go job - hasn't really caught on with the American media.
But I have no doubt that the tenor who has Britain going "Pava-potty" (thanks, London's Daily Star), will soon be hopping over the pond...especially now that he's signed a $2 million recording contract with Simon (Cowell, not Fuller).
Has success gone to this humble man's head? Apparently not. Potts says he's not quitting his day job just yet, and that he's putting some of the $234,000 he won on BGT toward a cosmetically improved smile. He also plans to pay off some looming bills which nearly crushed his spirit and kept him from auditioning for the talent program.
And he and his wife, who he met online four years ago, say they can finally think about starting a family. "That would complete things," Potts told the Mirror. "I hope people who see me and have been bullied will go for it and try to showcase themselves. Everyone has a talent - they just have to use it."
So now you know Paul Potts: a man who gives hope to anyone who has ever been marginalized, and to anyone who has ever had a dream.
Time to say goodbye....
To countries I never
Saw and shared with you,
Now, yes, I shall experience them,
Ill go with you
On ships across seas
Which, I know,
No, no, exist no longer;
With you I shall experience them.