Susan’s story in the limelight began in the third season of “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2008, at a time when the series was, although fairly popular, not really established as a springboard for truly talented individuals. Boyle’s appearance brought a massive change to that perspective, and had the judges transform their expectations from thereon in.
The audition that propelled her to stardom is by far one of the most surprising and film-like moments ever experienced in modern show business, with very few observers seeing anything special about Susan, right up until the moment she opened her mouth to the music.
She was initially known simply as contestant 43212, until the pre-performance interview and her stage presence itself. Upon introducing herself, Susan said she’s ‘nearly 48,’ adding ‘I’m unemployed but still looking, and I’m going to sing for you on “Britain’s Got Talent” today.’
Boyle admitted that she was a little nervous, saying ‘I’ve got a fighting mood, you know.’ Further on, she elaborated that ‘at the moment I live alone with my cat called Pebbles, but I’ve never been married, never been kissed. Oooh, shame.’ She revealed that she’d been singing from the age of 12 saying, ‘I’ve always wanted to perform in front of a large audience. I’m gonna make that audience rock.’
Judges Piers Morgan, Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden weren’t all that impressed when Susan made her way onto the lit floorboards in front of them, if only slightly intrigued at best. Simon simply asked Boyle’s name and place of origin. When Susan said she was 47 years old, the judge glared to the side in disbelief.
Boyle then wiggled her hips, saying ‘and that’s just one side of me,’ which didn’t resonate with the judges at all, resulting in rather confused and almost negative looks being shared amongst them. Cowell then asked ‘Okay, what’s the dream?’ Susan replied with ‘I’m trying to be a professional singer,’ which certain audience members couldn’t help but sneer at.
Simon proceeded with the question ‘And why hasn’t it worked out so far, Susan?’, to which Boyle replied ‘I’ve never been given the chance before, but here’s hoping it’ll change.’ When asked who she would like to be as successful as, Susan easily shot out ‘Elaine Paige, someone like that.’ Again, the judges and the audience failed to take her seriously, with many laughing at her response.
After Susan told Piers that she was going to sing “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Misérables,” Amanda seemed to become wary of the contestant’s potential, shooting a nod and glare of admiration her way, while Morgan simply laughed off the answer.
However, as soon as the music started and Susan uttered the first sentence of the song, the whole audience began cheering at the top of their lungs, with all three judges experiencing positive open-mouthed shock, and watching and listening breathlessly, while Piers Morgan immediately regretted his behavior.
Over the next 10 days, we're going to be highlighting 10 tracks from Susan’s new album with a personal message written by the woman herself!Day 1 – I Dreamed A Dream: This was the song that started it all off ten years ago and what a ten years it has been. It’s the song everyone remembers me by. Who would have thought that 3 minutes on the BGT stage performing this would have resulted in the most wonderful 10 years? #10DaysOfSusan
Posted by Susan Boyle on Monday, April 1, 2019
As the song finished and judge Holden was giving her a standing ovation, Susan thought her bit was done and simply started walking off the stage. She was thankfully returned, at which point Piers said ‘Without a doubt, that was the biggest surprise I have had in three years on this show.’
He further explained ‘When you stood there with that cheeky grin and said ‘I wanna be like Elaine Paige,’ everyone was laughing at you. No one is laughing now. That was stunning. An incredible performance. Amazing. I’m reeling from shock. I don’t know about you two, but I can’t believe it.’
Amanda wholeheartedly agreed, saying ‘I am so thrilled because I know that everybody was against you. I honestly think that we were all being very cynical, and I think that’s the biggest wake-up call ever. And I just wanna say that it was a complete privilege listening to that.’
Simon had nothing but praise for Boyle, stating ‘Susan, I knew the minute you walked out on that stage that we were gonna hear something extraordinary, and I was right. Susan, you are a little tiger, aren’t you?’
Back then, feeling exalted for simply being allowed to continue as a contestant in “Britain’s Got Talent,” Boyle had no perception of what a super-massive star she was going to become, not long after that stunning performance.
Susan almost quit the entire show after her semi-final performance of the song “Memory” from the musical entitled “Cats,” owing to her rather introverted nature and natural aversion to being the talk of the town. Simon convinced her to keep competing, leading her on to perform “I Dreamed a Dream” one more time in the finals. She finished second, but a much bigger win was right around the corner.
A career out of nowhere
After her audition, Boyle became an overnight sensation, as her performance on “Britain’s Got Talent” went viral, garnering millions of views on YouTube, and making her a household name around the world. In the weeks and months following her appearance on the show, Boyle was featured in numerous news stories and interviews, and became a popular subject of media coverage and public interest.
Thanks to her indisputable success in the series, Boyle was quickly snagged by Syco Music and Columbia Records, under Simon Cowell and producer Steve Mac, signing a recording contract and releasing her debut album, “I Dreamed a Dream” in November 2009.
The album, which featured covers of popular songs and a few original compositions, was a tremendous commercial success, selling of over nine million copies in the United States alone, with Boyle becoming the first female artist to have two albums debut at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. It became the best-selling debut album of all time in the UK,
One of the standout tracks on “I Dreamed a Dream” is Boyle’s cover of the Rolling Stones’ classic “Wild Horses.” Her version of the song is a slower, more stripped-down arrangement that highlights her powerful vocals and emotional delivery.
Another notable track on the album is “Who I Was Born to Be” – an original song co-written by Boyle, that showcases her songwriting skills and personal experiences, as well as the only song on the album whose original artist is Susan herself.
“I Dreamed a Dream” was overall well-received by critics and fans alike, with many praising Susan’s strong vocal performance and the album’s diverse mix of genres and styles. It was an incredible commercial success, reaching the top of the charts in several other countries, and earning Boyle multiple awards and accolades.
Susan remained hard at work after achieving worldwide recognition, continuing her career with unprecedented drive. “The Gift” was released in November 2010 as the follow-up to her huge previous success – like her debut album, it featured a mix of cover songs and original material, again produced by Simon Cowell and Steve Mac. The album’s lead single, “Perfect Day,” was a cover of the Lou Reed song, and was released ahead of the full album.
She also paid tribute to other great names from the music industry, performing a well-respected cover of Leonard Cohen’s legendary “Hallelujah.” Other songs included covers of “Do You Hear What I Hear?”, and “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” as well as culturally significant folk songs and Christmas carols such as “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Auld Lang Syne.”
The album also includes a duet with Elvis Presley, “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” which was created using Presley’s original vocals and new instrumentation recorded by Boyle and her team. There’s also a Japanese bonus track included – a cover of Yumi Arai’s “Vapor Trail.”
Susan’s third album, entitled “Someone to Watch Over Me,” is arguably one of her best-performing ones, achieving double platinum status in Australia, also platinum in New Zealand and the UK, as well as gold in Belgium, Ireland and the United States.
Upon its release in early November 2011, it achieved the #1 position on UK and Australian charts, as well as top 10 in the US, Sweden, New Zealand, Belgium and Canada. It featured 10 covers of famous songs, such as “You Have to Be There” by Helen Sjöholm, “Both Sides, Now” by Joni Mitchell, and even “Enjoy the Silence” by the legendary Depeche Mode.
Hello everyone! Susan wants to know which album's your favourite, and why.
With an unstoppable momentum from that point on, Susan released an album per year another three times: “Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs from the Stage” in 2012, “Home for Christmas” in 2013, and “Hope” in 2014. The penultimate came two years later, entitled “A Wonderful World,” with the most current being “Ten” in 2019.
Her fourth album came with its own concert tour entitled “Susan Boyle in Concert,” during which she traveled all across Europe and North America, performing 26 and 21 shows respectively. Boyle started the tour in Scotland so as to pay homage to her birthplace, appearing in Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Inverness.
Susan’s second and latest tour took place during 2019 and 2020, entitled “TEN Tour,” which she used to promote her eponymous album. “Ten” featured 17 tracks, with four bonus ones exclusive to the Japanese edition, in which she covered Yumi Arai’s “Vapor Trail” again, as well as “Wings to Fly” by Michio Yamagami and Kunihiko Murai. It peaked in fifth spot in Australia, and the UK, second in Scotland, although only 49th in the US.
She’s been nominated for two Grammy awards thus far, initially in 2011 in the Best Pop Vocal Album category for “I Dreamed a Dream.” Her second nomination came the very next year, at which point she was seen among the potential winners in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category thanks to “The Gift.”
Not exactly Hollywood’s finest
Very few fans are aware of the fact that Susan did appear on television way before “Britain’s Got Talent,” as a vocal performer in an episode of “Michael Barrymore’s My Kind of People” way back in 1995. However, it seems that her singing prowess failed to grab international attention at the time, as she ended up having to wait another 13 years for her claim to fame.
After rocking the audience in “Britain’s Got Talent” exactly as she promised in the interview, Boyle went on to show up in numerous TV shows, as either a performer or celebrity guest, one example of that having been her appearance in the 24th episode of the sixth season of “The X Factor UK” in 2009.
Susan was also an honored guest in highly acclaimed talk shows, such as “Larry King Live” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” both of which she graced in 2009 and 2010. She also sang in five episodes of “Dancing with the Stars” between 2009 and 2012, as well as “Today” in 2013 and 2014.
Naturally, having felt a great surge of confidence throughout the 11 years spent basking in the limelight, she also tried her luck in “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” in 2019, but was eliminated prior to entering the top five.
A rather interesting piece of trivia regarding Susan’s career is that she tried her luck at acting, playing Eleanor Hopewell in John Stephenson’s family drama film entitled “The Christmas Candle” in 2013, as well as herself in Ben Stiller’s popular but underperforming “Zoolander 2” in 2016.
This acting stint resulted in Boyle’s third nomination in 2013, for the Irina Palm d’Or award in the Worst British Supporting Actress category for her portrayal in “The Christmas Candle.” Fortunately for future plans involving acting, the world-renowned singer didn’t ‘win’ that one.
— Archbishop Leo Cushley (@leocushley) December 14, 2019
A graceful retirement
True to her bashful nature, Susan Boyle generally stays out of the public eye as long as she isn’t promoting her music. Such is the case post-2019 as well, with eager fans awaiting basically any news regarding her future endeavors.
Her private life is as mysterious as ever too, although People magazine did shed some light on her romantic involvements. It was said in 2014 that Susan got into her first-ever relationship, with the singer stating ‘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.’
Susan still lives in her family home in Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland, supposedly with the mysterious beau she mentioned eight years ago. Her jaw-dropping net worth is over $40 million as of late-2022, sure to enable a rather comfortable life, regardless of whether she ever releases another album.