Many people watching “Australia’s Got Talent” last night (30 August 2011) on Channel 7 were in tears when Emmanuel Kelly, an adopted child from Iraq, sang John Lennon’s famous classic Imagine not only because of his X factor but also because of the song’s emotional appeal and Emmanuel’s background.
The whole episode signified and brought to the surface the tragedies of war more than anything else, particularly in Iraq, but which are equally relevant to other countries including Sri Lanka.
When Emmanuel was asked by a judge of the competition, Ronan Keating, “What is your age?” He said that “I am not exactly sure. When I was found in an orphanage by my Mom, there was no birth certificate.”
“My story is that I was born in the middle of the war and I and my brother were left in shoe boxes in a Park. We were in the middle of gunfire… those noises we didn’t understand.”
Emmanuel undoubtedly had the X factor with the potential of becoming a professional singer. He may be about 15 years of age, born around 1995 in Iraq. Giving an interview to the Herald Sun this morning he said, “When I got up and started singing, there was nothing else. Adrenalin just took over. It was just a blur.” There was no doubt for any listener that Emmanuel had got the right talent.
The toughest judges, Ronan Keating, Spice Girl Mel Brown, Natalie Bassingthwaighte and Guy Sebastian were completely moved and even emotional when Emmanuel started singing.
Emmanuel further said that “Singing is what I love doing and singing is the only thing I want to do.” “I know plenty of singers that are 50 times better than I am, it is just they chose not to follow that path. Singing is the path I want to follow and some doors have opened up now and I just want to push even more. I just want to sing and I want to make people happy.”
Emmanuel and his brother Ahmed, both with limb deficiencies allegedly due to war, are adopted by Moria Kelly who is the Head of the Children First Foundation in Australia. It is the same Moria who became the foster mother and guardian to the once-conjoined Bangladeshi twins, Krishna and Trishna. Emmanuel called them “my cousins.”
It was extremely fitting to the occasion that Emmanuel sang John Lennon’s Imaginewith fitting emotion. Imagine what?
“Imagine there’s no Heaven, no Hell below us.”
Then what will guide us?
“It is the people, all the people living for today.”
Lennon’s imagination was undoubtedly post-modernist. Whether you agree or not, there is some profound truth in it. That is the ultimate futility of war for ‘nation,’ ‘country’ or ‘religion,’ the war to kill each other. In this sense, Lennon’s lyrics also expounded pacifism, whether practical or not, under certain circumstances.
Lennon’s final objective was the most important: “Imagine all the people, living life in peace.” That objective also has a socialist future. “Imagine no possessions, no need for greed or hunger, brotherhood of man, imagine all the people sharing all the world.”
The last important question to pose is whether it is just a dream? Lennon’s answer was “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” Emmanuel was apparently emotional when he sang the last verse of the song. He came from Iraq without known parent, and now lives in Australia with an adopted mother and family.