Susan Boyle became an instant sensation throughout the world after she appeared on the third series of “Britain’s Got Talent.” Although that introduction aired over a decade ago, Boyle has managed a level of staying power rarely seen by TV stars. That performance of the Les Mis classic I Dreamed a Dream has been watched millions of times, including the scowling and then shocked face of Simon Cowell.
Susan Magdalene Boyle was born on April 1, 1961, in Blackburn, West Lothian. Her father, Patrick Boyle, was a WWII veteran and miner who also sang at Bishop Blaize. His wife, Bridget, worked as a shorthand typist. The couple had nine children; four sons and five daughters, with Susan being their very last. As a child, she was told that she had developed a learning disability as a result of oxygen deprivation during birth. In an interview with the Guardian in 2013, the singer got candid about how she got bullied by her peers because she was “different.” Throughout her life, Susan has suffered from emotional outbursts and struggled with social interaction and communication, which has often interfered with her ability to form relationships and act appropriately. Singing would be the only activity she could do that would bring her solace.
“I come from a musical family,” Susan said. “It has always been there, from my father down. Singing is always something I have done. It has been in my blood since I was 12 and took part in school productions and shows.”
Then finally in her 50s, she was diagnosed with Asperger‘s syndrome.
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Susan had visited a doctor to speak about anxiety, which she boiled down to something being wrong with her.
“I went to seek a diagnosis from a Scottish specialist,” Susan explained. “Nobody told me to. I thought I had a more serious illness and couldn’t function properly.”
Her doctor prescribed various tests for her, which eventually showed her “IQ was above average.”
Susan admitted that she was grateful to have received the diagnosis, but stressed that she would not let it define her.
“It will not make any difference to my life. It’s just a condition that I have to live with and work through,” she said, adding that she only hoped it would help others understand her better and show empathy.
“I think people will treat me better because they will have a much greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do.”
She left school with few qualifications and entered a governmental vocational training program to find employment. Susan also pursued singing professionally, occasionally taking up gigs performing in local venues. She became a member of her church’s choir, where she also volunteered. Eventually, the songstress was accepted at the Edinburgh Acting School and appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – an annual city-wide event that features local performers. In 1999, Susan recorded an album for charity, titled “Cry Me a River,” which was pressed around 1,000 times. The star even had a small stint on British television, having appeared on Michael Barrymore’s show “My Kind of People.
Susan Boyle (2011) (Martin Fraser/Wireimage/Getty Images)
“I did My Kind of People for fun,” she said. “I also sang locally but things had quietened down.”
But when her mother, Brigitte, began too frail to care for herself, Susan took a break from singing to be there for her. After her mother passed away in 2007, she was inspired to take a chance and audition for “Britain’s Got Talent.”
“I had a bit of a rest after my mum died, but I had seen Britain’s Got Talent on TV and thought I would have a go,” Susan recalled. “Paul Potts was really good. He was an inspiration to a lot of people and I thought I would take my chances.”
She attended her first audition in Glasgow that October, which was then followed by a second in front of Simon Cowell and his co-judges. “I was very nervous,” she said.
At the time, Susan differed greatly from the contestants we were used to seeing on the show. She was a simple, middle-aged woman from rural Scotland in a lacy beige dress and a warm smile. Both the viewers and the judges alike were unsure of what to expect. But when she belted out “I Dreamed A Dream,” the whole room was instantly bewildered by her immensely beautiful voice.
“I expected people to be a wee bit cynical,” Susan said. “But I decided to win the round. That is what you do. They didn’t know what to expect. Before Britain’s Got Talent, I had never had a proper chance. It’s as simple as that. You just have to keep going and take one step at a time and one day you will make it. You just don’t give up.”
Susan Boyle (2012) (David Becker/Getty Images)
That night shot Susan to international fame. She represented a different kind of role model; one that didn’t fit into the traditional narrative of successful celebrities. She was just an ordinary person past her 40s, worlds away from the movie-star good looks we see on the covers of glossy magazines. But she could sing – well, in fact. She was proof that anyone could go after their dreams, no matter their background, or how they looked. She came second in the 2009 series of “Britain’s Got Talent,” but that only marked the beginning of her rise to international stardom.
Sadly, after her stint on “Britain’s Got Talent,” Susan was admitted to The Priory Clinic in London due to exhaustion and anxiety. At the time, the press coverage surrounding the singer had become too intense. At the time, Piers Morgan, who was a judge on the show when Susan appeared, told the BBC that the attention she had received was “crazy” and “nobody could have predicted it.”
“She wasn’t used to it, and just needs a break,” Morgan said. “She said she was exhausted, she said she was physically and mentally drained, she’d been sick a few times in the previous week, hadn’t been sleeping, hadn’t been eating – and had found the whole weight of the world’s media pressure crashing down on her shoulders,” he added.
Thankfully, Susan recovered and got straight back to work, touring with “Britain’s Got Talent” and later recording her own music.
In 2011, just two years after her sting on the televised talent show, Susan released her rendition of the classic song, “Unchained Melody.”
Susan Boyle (2013) (Scott Campbell/Getty Images)
Although the song was originally sung by Alex North in 1955, it rose to fame when the Righteous Brothers covered it a decade later. The track appeared on her album “Someone to Watch Over Me,” which earned her her third UK Number one hit, according to the BBC.
Speaking to the Sun at the time, Susan revealed the title of her album was inspired by her search for love.
“It’s about that special person I would love to meet, that longing for that person to come along,” the singer explained. “When he does, he’ll be that person to watch over me and I will watch over him. You need someone to watch over you and I haven’t had that since my mother died.”
You might remember that Susan admitted during her audition for “Britain’s Got Talent” that at 47 years old, she still had never kissed anyone.
“We all like the idea of sharing our lives with someone who is going to protect and look after us. I’m on my own quite a lot and that special person hasn’t come along yet.” she said. “I’ve had a few offers in the post and, let me tell you, some of them are beauties. They say: ‘I’ve seen your YouTube video and I think I like you. I live on my own and I need somebody, too.’”
According to the Daily Record, Susan finally had her first boyfriend at the age of 53. Not much is known about him, except that he was around the same age as her and that he was an American Doctor.
Susan Boyle (2013) (Matt Kent/WireImage/Getty Images)
Sadly, while the singer might have described him as the “perfect gentleman,” the eventually called it quits.
“I don’t want to say any more about who he is right now as that would be unfair on him. All I’ll say is we are around the same age and he was a very nice guy,” she said, adding that a long term relationship with him “just wasn’t practical.”
Susan accompanied her rendition of “Unchained Melody” with a breathtaking black-and-white music video, in which the singer performs the song surrounded by her orchestra. Here serene, solemn disposition throughout the clip perfectly encompasses the mood of the famous tune. She stayed true to the song while adding her “Susan” twist to it with her magical voice. The video, which was posted on YouTube upon its release, attracted over 10 million views since it’s upload as well as thousands of comments praising the talented singer for her performance. One fan, Sarah McCormack, wrote that Susan and her music were important to her because of the memories it brought about her late mother.
“A simply stunning version of this song Susan,” McCormack commented. “I brought my mum your album about 5 years ago knowing she would love it. She had just been diagnosed with breast cancer at the time. Unfortunately she passed away 3 weeks ago and she had requested your unchained melody be played at her funeral. It was simply breathtaking and everyone was in tears. Luv it Susan.”
Other fans wrote of how talented the singer is, with one commenting that Susan’s talent was “a gift to humanity.”
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