Please watch the video before reading.
It's hard not to have an emotional reaction to the singer and the song. Emmanuel Kelly's story, the song he chose and the manner in which he sang it combine into a powerful viewing experience. His story, in fact, could have easily overshadowed the performance, making it difficult for the performance - his voice and his use of it - to be judged separately.
But that's the job of judges.
It is a TALENT show.
Before continuing, let me just say that I was moved to tears by the performance, I also admit to being pulled in by the master manipulation of the X-Factor team. After watching it the first time, I watched it a couple of other times, moving the video along to just the song, just the performance, and found myself equally moved. He is simply talented. He is simply a terrific performer. He simply has a wonderful voice along with the ability to use it to put meaning into the words he sings.
What I wanted to write about was the performance, not of Mr. Kelly, but of the judges. Did you notice that only one of them, Guy Sebastian, judge three, mentioned the fact that Mr. Kelly could actually sing. All the others spoke of his bravery, of his courage, of his cheeky grin. One judge said that he had them from the moment he walked on the stage. Really, that's all people with disabilities have to do? Show ourselves? Show up? Show even a modicum of ambition? Can we acknowledge that anyone who shows up to audition is showing courage, and bravery, and may even have cheeky grins - that isn't what the contest is about. It's about TALENT. And Mr. Kelly, as Mr. Sebastian thankfully pointed out, is talented.
It was such a relief to hear Mr Sebastian push the story aside and speak to the young singer about his voice and his talent and his gift. It's also interesting to note that, as talented as Mr. Kelly is, he did not make the final cut to be one of the 12 finalists. The same Mr. Sebastian cut him when he didn't do well earlier on, repeatingly forgetting lyrics to a song. There was moral outrage and the twitter world lit up at the cut.
But for me?
I'm thankful that Mr. Kelly was allowed to succeed or fail based on his talent and his performance as distinct and separate from his disability, his story and his, um, courage.
I did a little looking and found that Mr. Kelly has written some music and sings his songs with conviction. I hope he is bound for stardom, because of his drive to be a singer, and only his drive to be a singer.