Susan Boyle is a Scottish singer who is best known for her successful stint on the talent show ‘Britain’s Got Talent.’ The show paved her way to became one of the most talked-about contemporary singers. In November 2009, she released her debut album, ‘I Dreamed a Dream,’ and garnered phenomenal success. It became the highest-selling British debut album of all time. The album topped the ‘Billboard 200’ chart for six weeks following its release. Two singles from the album, ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ and ‘Wild Horses,’ topped a number of music charts that year. By the end of a year of being an active musician, Susan was already a superstar. She released five more albums, which were all fairly successful, and proved that her remarkable performances on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ did not happen by fluke. By now, she has sold more than 25 million copies of her albums worldwide and has earned two ‘Grammy’ nominations. She has also been associated with several charitable causes.
Childhood & Early Life
Susan Boyle was born in West Lothian, Scotland, on April 1, 1961, to Irish immigrant parents, Bridget and Patrick Boyle. Her mother worked as a shorthand typist, and her father was a miner and a Second World War veteran. Susan was the youngest of the nine children in the family.
Susan was briefly deprived of oxygen when she was born, and this led to a mild brain damage. She was told about the incident when she grew up. She suffered from psychological issues that were caused by her condition. She was also bullied at school to some extent, which affected her self-confidence. In addition to that, she developed severe learning disabilities.
What helped her in those hard times was the love for music that existed in the family. Her parents often sang and played the piano, and this led Susan to become interested in music at an early age.
She grew up in Blackburn, which was a small community. Susan could not get proper musical education there. Her learning disabilities led her to get bullied in school. However, she was not the one to give up and nurtured her love for music in school productions. She sang for the first time in school at the age of 12.
After graduating from high school, Susan decided to build a career in music. However, she needed a secure job first. She soon started working in the kitchen of ‘West Lothian College’ and occasionally went to the theater, to be in touch with her artistic skills. In one such show, she heard the song ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from ‘Les Misérables,’ and it stuck with her. This was the song that helped her achieve phenomenal fame and success on ‘Britain’s Got Talent.’
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In 1995, Susan auditioned for ‘My Kind of People,’ a show run by ace TV presenter Michael Barrymore. She was rejected despite performing brilliantly. Her brother later said that she was rejected due to her unconventional looks. However, this could not affect her confidence, and she continued to perform at local clubs and pubs.
Susan’s struggle came to a brief halt when her father passed away in 1997. She quit everything and returned to take care of her ailing mother. Her mother motivated her to follow her dreams instead. With her mother’s support, Susan started saving and prepared a demo tape, which she then sent to various record labels, TV stations, and radio stations.
In the middle of trying to build her music career, Susan suffered another major loss, when her sister Kathleen died of an asthma attack. Susan was devastated but decided to turn to music for solace and serenity. Feeling that she required some professional singing lessons, she hired singing coach Fred O’Neil in 2002 and started training herself.
After her mother’s death in 2007, she became devastated and dedicated her life to charitable causes. She decided to quit music forever, as she was going nowhere with it. However, in August 2008, her coach, Fred, urged her to audition for ‘Britain’s Got Talent.’
She decided to audition as a final tribute to her mother. In the audition, which was aired in April 2009, she sang ‘I Dreamed a Dream.’ The song was viewed by a record number of audiences, and she was immediately selected for the next round.
The video of her audition has been watched by more than 27 million people on ‘YouTube’ to date. Susan’s performance is regarded as one of the best auditions on a talent show. Boyle was one of the 40 semi-finalists of the show. By the end of the show, she had become the fan favorite, but she eventually lost in the finals to the dance group ‘Diversity.’
In November 2009, Susan released her debut album, ‘I Dreamed a Dream,’ and it became an instant success. It was regarded as the highest-selling British debut album of all time. The titular single from the album, ‘I Dreamed a Dream,’ became a chart-topping success. Within the first week of its release, the album sold more than 400 thousand copies in the UK alone. Meanwhile, in the US, the album sold more than 700 thousand copies in the first week itself.
In December 2009, following the roaring success of her debut musical effort, Susan appeared in a TV special titled ‘I Dreamed a Dream: the Susan Boyle Story.’ On the show, she performed a duet with Elaine Paige, which was watched by more than 10 million people in the UK. In the US, the show became the highest-rated TV special in the history of ‘TV Guide Network.’
In 2010, Susan released her sophomore album, ‘The Gift,’ which was another success story for her. She became one of the three acts ever to have two chart-topping hits, both in the US and the UK, in the same year. In 2011, she released her third album, ‘Someone to Watch Over Me,’ to immense critical and commercial appreciation.
She released three more albums till 2014 and established herself as one of the most popular contemporary singers. In 2014, after the release of her sixth album, ‘Hope,’ Susan took a break from music, to spend some quality time with her friends and family. In 2016, she released her latest album, ‘A Wonderful World.’
Susan has also starred in the film ‘The Christmas Candle.’
‘The Huffington Post’ claimed that the producers of the show ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ had deliberately presented Susan Boyle as a plain woman to offer an initial shock. Several other organizations criticized the show’s insensitive attitude toward physical appearances.
In 2013, Susan revealed that she had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. It was found out that she was a person with “above average” intelligence.
After her father’s death in 1997, Susan stayed with her mother to take care of her. One of her neighbors claimed that when Susan’s mother died, she had stopped answering calls and had locked herself in the house for a few days.
In 2014, reports claimed that Susan had started dating an unknown man, who was “around the same age.”