Saturday, October 04, 2003

Giving it all you've got 

On TV here in the UK we have a series called Fame Academy. Its probably a format used elsewhere around the world - several thousand young would-be pop stars are auditioned, 13 selected, and the show follows their progress week by week as they enter the "Academy" and get top-rank training to develop their skills. And each week, as they perform live on TV, the audience and their teachers vote and one has to leave. So after 13 weeks there is a winner, whose prize is a recording contract apparently worth £1M .

Now, although I love all kinds of music I'm not a great fan of the current pop scene so I haven't been following the series that closely, particularly because there's also an element of "reality TV" about the show which is something I generally avoid at all costs. But something caught my attention in the last few weeks. Strip away all the show-biz glitz and the artificiality of the situation and there's actually something quite special and authentic going on.

These kids don't have an easy time of it. It may sound like a dream come true - performing on TV every week - but they're having to work phenomenally hard for it. Their teachers recognise what they're capable of and don't pull their punches if they think the kids are performing anything less than 110%.

I admire dedication, commitment, determination; I believe if you have a dream you should go for it. Work, learn, challenge yourself, hold fast to your vision. And this is exactly what we were seeing, especially in the later weeks as the numbers got whittled down. It was quite humbling to see some of these kids give it everything they've got, not only in performance but behind the scenes as they struggled, learned and developed - both musically and personally. And in spite of the competitive element, they were also supporting each other.

The girl that won had amazing raw talent and individuality. Some of the other performers may have been more slick, more seemingly professional, more commercial. But she seemed to have something within her that put her apart from the rest. An inner power; a soul seeking expression.

You may call me an old softy, but it was really rather uplifting to see her.

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