Letter to a Young Artist
Siobhan, I am old enough to be your mother, and I think your tattoos are cool. The jewel in your nose, not my thing, but you pull it off. I didn’t understand your hair, at first. Then you revealed your past with a Mohawk—talk about uneven layers. Your hair has been looking great lately, and so have you. Your evolving fashion statement is elegant and edgy, not to mention, hot. But the hottest thing about you? Your voice. Oh my, Siobhan. You were born to sing.

I didn’t invent you. I don’t even know you. But I’m proud of you. Am I allowed to brag about you? Because I do. I tell friends in faraway places they need to watch American Idol to hear our Cape Cod girl. And I’m not alone in this brand of musical civic pride. Early in the season, I picked up a to-go at Jack’s Pizza. Idol was on the television, and the talk was all about you. A seventy-ish woman at the bar declared, “I’m giving up NCIS for that girl.”

“She’s something,” someone else chimed in.

You were subsequently claimed on behalf of three Cape Cod towns before I jumped in: “Her family lives in Marstons Mills. She graduated from Barnstable High.”

About a week later, I spotted the first banner on route 28: Siobhan, Cape Cod’s Siren. A couple of days after that, I witnessed a miracle in the off-season: all the right letters in all the right places on the Melody Tent marquis. In big block letters: Vote for Siobhan Magnus. In smaller letters: American Idol. Every time I run an errand, I see a new declaration of support—at the high school, on the town green in Hyannis, at Cape Maid Farms. I haven’t spotted a bumper sticker yet, but I could imagine your smiling face outselling even the Cape Cod Tunnel Permit.

We’re rooting for you, Siobhan. A friend without television has been following you online. I’ll phone him on Tuesday night with your vote-number, so he can call in his support. Another cries every time she watches you perform. And me? Why, I get teary even driving by the signs that also lift my heart. You, your music, your fearlessness, your youth—and all the signs that shout out your name—remind us what is possible.

You’ve been labeled “quirky,” Siobhan. I would call you true. Where Simon Cowell sees a “strange little thing,” I see a young woman who is singing her heart out and onto her sleeve. Your soul’s there too, and you can’t help it. Siobhan, from your pierced nose to your gladiator booted toes, you are an artist. I’m pretty sure of it. And, as best as I can determine through the confines of my nineteen-inch TV, you, Siobhan, are real. You are present in every note—and you connect, not only to the music, not only to your deepest self, but also to us. How else to explain the—literally—millions of fans you have acquired in a matter of weeks? Let’s face it. They’re not all from Cape Cod.

But I’m glad you are. Because the truth is, Siobhan, we are mostly quirky here. You come from a place packed with edge-of-the-earth unpredictables, a sandbar of strange little things, with plenty of strange big things amongst us. From our wacky, splendid number, you have emerged, and you have triumphed. Queen of Quirky, Diva of Difference, Princess of Peculiar, Empress of Eccentricity: Siobhan Magnus. We’ll form your crown from Cape Cod clay, decorate it with Edward Gorey drawings and baubles of hand-blown glass. We’ll parade to the sea, where we’ll lay down beach blankets, sit, and listen while you sing us a special song. Our cheers will drown out the sound of the crashing waves. Siobhan, make no mistake: You are our Idol.

Copyright 2010 by Kate Whouley