‘Don’t give up,’ Paul Potts tells Superstar K2 semifinalist

  • Published : Oct 18, 2010 - 20:19
  • Updated : Oct 18, 2010 - 20:19

Over the weekend, online debates raged here on whether it was fair to eliminate talented singer-songwriter Jang Jae-in in the Friday semifinal of “Superstar K2,” cable channel Mnet’s version of “American Idol.”

Among the three contestants Jang, John Park and Huh Gak Jang was the only one who had made it to the top three through performing non-mainstream music.

Encouraging Jang who said she found solace in music when bullied by her schoolmates, Paul Potts, the mobile phone-salesman-turned-reality TV superstar, told her not to give up. He was a guest judge of Superstar K last year.

“I want to say to the girl, don’t give up. Keep going and if you have the talent, it will shine in the end,” Potts said in an interview with The Korea Herald on Sunday. He rose to world stardom after winning the first “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2007 and getting millions of views on a Youtube video clip.

“The most direct route may not be the route for you. Sometimes, it will be slightly longer than you hope but people will see the talent you have,” said the 40-year-old, who confessed a lack of self-confidence when he was bullied in the past.

The advice of the British operatic tenor resonates not only for Jang but for ordinary people who often find it difficult to achieve something, be it landing a job, getting promoted or finding the right spouse.

Potts said he himself went through hardship from the moment he graduated from university.
British singer Paul Potts poses for a photo ouside the head office of The Korea Herald in central Seoul.  (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)

When he left university in the early 1990s, the U.K. was in a recession. He never got past the first stage of the hiring process whenever he applied for jobs because so many people were applying.

However, it didn’t stop him working up from the bottom and this has always been his attitude. In 1996, he was elected as a member of Bristol City Council and worked there until 2003. Potts was a manager of a mobile phone store until he won the TV show competition, took a six-month sabbatical and quit in March 2008.

“It’s not the destination that’s important. It’s how you get there and what you learn from the journey,” said Potts.

He is on a promotion tour in Asia to introduce his new, third album “Cinema Paradiso.”

He said the third album was different from the previous two albums in that he planned the movie-theme concept and chose the producer himself Hollywood movie music producer Simon Franglen who has worked soundtracks for blockbusters such as “Avatar,” “Titanic” and “Moulin Rouge.”

It was the movie “E.T.” that developed Potts’ fascination with classical music, and he had been thinking of releasing a movie album for some time.

Plus, he studied film as part of his university degree, while he was majoring in philosophy, he said.

If he had to recommend just one song out of the 11 tracks, he said he would go for the third track, “Parla Piu Piano” which is the love theme from the film “The Godfather.”

Potts recorded five tracks, including Doctor Zhivago’s “Dove Non So,” in Italian because “it didn’t sound right” when sung in English, he said.

“I’ve always been interested in Italian opera and wanted to learn more about the language and be able to sing in Italian better.”

Potts is an ardent user of Twitter and Facebook where he himself updates where he is and what he has been doing on his mobile phone.

He stressed that it is important for artists to update social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook pages by themselves rather than having marketing department staff do the job to stay in touch with their fans.

Just before the interview, he replied to some Twitter users who told Potts to be careful about eating dogs in Korea, saying, “Nothing wrong with Korean food. Don’t believe all you hear. Some is spicy but it’s generally good.”

However, he says the cylindrical metal chopsticks can be difficult to use. “Nothing sticks to them. It’s a challenge but it makes you eat slower which is perfect for my diet,” said the tenor, who is trying lose weight by going to the gym four or five times a week, despite his tight promotion schedule.

To Potts, image is not really important, he said, adding that he only had his teeth rearranged for health reasons since he became a star.

With a wife 10 years younger than him, Potts said the couple is “not quite over the hill yet” to have children.

Potts expressed hope that he can come back next year to hold a fourth concert in Korea.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)



폴포츠 "장재인, 계속 도전하라. 결국 빛날 것" 응원

브리티시 갓 탤런트를 통해 세계적인 스타가 된 폴포츠가 자신과 비슷한 오디션 프로그램인 케이블 채널 엠넷 ’슈퍼스타k2’의 장재인에게 응원의 메시지를 보냈다.

지난 금요일이었던 15일 장재인은 TOP2를 뽑는 무대에서 탈락했다. 이미 많은 팬들을 확보해온 그였기에, 장재인의 탈락은 마치 ’반전’처럼 여겨졌다. 특히 장재인의 경우 TOP3에 오른 도전자 가운데에서도 흔히 말하는 주류 음악에서는 한 발 물러선 비주류 음악을 하고 있기에 더 많은 관심을 모으기도 했다.

폴포츠는 지난 일요일(17일) 본지 자매지인 코리아헤럴드와의 인터뷰를 통해 장재인에게 격려를 아끼지 않았다. "학교 친구들로부터 따돌림을 당할 때 음악이 위안이 됐다"던 장재인에게 자신의 이야기를 곁들이며 "휴대폰 판매원에서 리얼리티 TV 쇼의 슈퍼스타가 되기까지 포기하지 않았다. 재능을 가지고 있다면 계속 도전하라. 그 재능은 결국 빛날 것"이라면서 결코 포기하지 말기를 당부했다. 

2007년 브리티시 갓 탤런트(Britain’s Got Talent)를 통해 우승자가 된 후 스타덤에 오른 폴포츠는 유투브 비디오 클립을 통해 전세계 팬들의 클릭수만 해도 수백만 달러의 가치를 인정받을 만큼 성장했다. 하지만 폴포츠의 인생에 있어서는 반전과도 같은 일이었다. 알려진 바와 같이 휴대전화 판매원이던 시절, 왕따를 겪던 시절을 생각하면 말이다.

폴포츠는 "(꿈을 이뤄가는) 가장 빠른 길이 개인에 따라 가장 빠르고 직접적인 길은 아닐 수도 있다"면서 "자신의 재능을 인정받길 바라는 각자의 희망에 비해 사람들은 그 가치를 더 낮게 평가할 수도 있다"고 전하며 포기하지 말 것을 수차례 강조했다.

폴포츠의 이 같은 조언은 장재인뿐 아니라 어려운 목표를 달성해가거나, 직업을 찾거나, 동기부여를 하거나, 배우자를 찾는 평범한 사람들을 위한 큰 울림이 될 수도 있다. 이는 폴포츠 역시 험난한 삶의 한 장 한 장을 걸어왔기 때문이다.

폴포츠의 인생은 대학을 졸업하는 순간부터 고통이 뒤따랐다. 롤러코스터와도 같았다. 그가 대학을 졸업하던 1990년대 초반은 영국의 경제 침체기였다. 그래서인지 포츠는 입사 지원하는 회사마다 단 한 번도 첫 번째 단계에서 고용된 적이 없었다. 너무 많은 사람들이 지원했기 때문이기도 하다.

아무리 좌절해도 오뚝이처럼 다시 일어섰던 폴포츠는 1996년 브리스톨 시의회의 구성원으로 선출, 2003년까지 근무했다. 포츠는 이후 TV쇼의 우승자가 될 때까지 휴대전화 가게의 판매원으로 일하며 꿈을 이루게 됐다.

이에 포츠는 "목적을 이루는 것은 중요하지 않다. 그 목표와 꿈에 도착하는 방법은 자기 자신의 여행에서 배우는 것"이라고 담담히 조언했다.

한편 폴포츠는 세 번째 앨범인 영화음악 명곡집 ’Cinema Paradiso’의 아시아 프로모션 투어 차 지난 16일 한국에 방문했다. 이번 앨범 가운데 폴포츠는 3번 트랙에 담긴 영화 대부(The Godfather)의 ’Parla Piu Piano’를 추천하기도 했다.

SBS ‘스타킹’과 19일 신세계본점 아트홀에서 기자회견을 겸한 쇼케이스를 가진 뒤 22일 출국하는 폴포츠는 내년 콘서트를 통해 한국에 다시 방문할 수 있기를 희망했다.

헤럴드경제 고승희 기자 (shee@heraldcorp.com)