Susan Boyle was an unknown for most of her life. All of that changed when she was 47 years old and got up the courage to audition for the British talent competition show Britain’s Got Talent. The Scottish singer went from obscure to famous overnight, silencing even renowned judge Simon Cowell.
The story of Susan Boyle
We are going to take you on a journey of Susan Boyle’s life, from devoted daughter and sister, to acclaimed singer. Boyle’s tale is a true Cinderella story and we are going to start from the very beginning of her life, running through all the major events that lead up to her life today.
Throwing it back to Susan’s beginnings in Blackburn, Scotland, a baby Susan is being held by her mother in this photo. She was born in April of 1961 to Patrick, her miner father who was musically inclined as well, and her mother, Bridget, who was a typist. Susan was born when her mother was 45 years old and is the youngest of nine children to the Boyle household. No one could have anticipated Susan’s shining future.
A young Susan was bullied as a school girl, nicknamed ‘Susie Simple’ due to the fact that she was different from others. Susan was told by her mother that she was different from others because she did not get enough oxygen during her birth and the result were learning disabilities. Susan did not finish her schooling with top marks, but didn’t let that stop her from attending Edinburgh Acting School.
Susan got her start in music by singing at her local Catholic Church, as well as in karaoke nights at the local pubs. Little known fact about Susan is that she had sung on a CD that was pressed for charity back in 1999 and got rave reviews by those who listened to it. Susan sang a rendition of Cry Me a River that reviewer Amber McNaught of West Lothian Herald & Post said was “heartbreaking and had been on repeat in my CD player every since I got this CD.”
In 1998, Susan showed her dream of becoming a singer when she recorded three tracks onto a demo that she later sent to several radio talent competitions, record labels and other television talent competition shows. All of this was over a decade before Susan would be convinced to audition for Britain’s Got Talent in front of a live audience, judges and televised for the world to see and judge for itself.
Susan is seen here on the bottom left corner of the photo. She is with her family years before her audition and subsequent fame. Susan’s mother Bridget was Susan’s number one fan. She went to her singing events, supported her dream of becoming a professional singer and was there for her through it all. It was Bridget who convinced Susan to audition for Britain’s Got Talent, much to her luck.
A mother daughter bond
Susan took care of her mother until her dying day in 2007. She spent her life caring for her, having never married and remained in the family home. When her mother passed away, a neighbor said that Susan “wouldn’t come out for three or four days or answer the door or phone.” Her strong bond with her mother was her defining characteristic and shows the heart and bond that Susan has with others around her.
It was Susan’s promise to her mother to audition that had Susan in front of the judges on that fateful day in 2009. Susan thought she was too old to audition and was to be made a laughing stock in front of national television, which is why her mother’s words were so potent in her mind. She had to audition or else she would not honor her mother’s wishes. It was her voice coach, Fred O’Neil who also convinced her to go up on stage.
Britain’s Got Talent
When Susan got on that audition stage in front of thousands of people in the crowd as well as millions more at home, no one knew what was hidden in the quiet middle-aged woman’s vocal chords. As soon as she opened her mouth, the entire room was silenced and shocked. Susan sang her rendition of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Misérables, a song that is well-known for being incredibly hard to sing properly. She sang it perfectly.
Simon Cowell’s face
Who could forget judge Simon Cowell’s face when Susan began singing? We sure can’t. The normally snarky and mean judge was left dumbfounded when Susan was singing. He expected, like most of the audience, to hear a terrible audition and call it a day. However, he got more than he bargained for (and judged before he heard) when it came to Susan. It was this performance that made Simon change his thinking when it comes to judging a book by its cover.
Favorite to win
Susan was a favorite to win the musical competition show. Her story touched the lives of so many people who have always wanted to live out their dreams but never got the chance or were too fearful of the result. As such, Susan was thought to be the one to win the show as it was up to audience votes to decide who was going to win, and she sure had a lot of support.
Coming in second
Alas, Susan came in second on the show, much to the dismay of the audience and judges. However, despite coming in second, Susan got enough time in the spotlight to get noticed. Simon Cowell signed her to his record label and got her singing for the first time in a professional capacity. It was his label that made Susan Boyle into the household name we know today. Her first album as released a few months after her BGT performances.
Guinness World records
Susan’s success was officially marked by her receiving not one but three Guinness World records for her debut album’s first week success in the UK, as well as fastest-selling album by a female in the UK! Her third title was for being the oldest artist to reach the number one spot for a British and American debut. Upon hearing the news, Susan said she was honored to be considered and given the titles. I Dreamed Aa Dream sold an astonishing 411,820 copies in its first week alone.
After her national and international success with I Dreamed a Dream, Susan went on tour and released several more albums. Her income from the albums and tours was substantial, as well as did the job of gaining her new fans the world over. Her tour ran from July 2013 to November 2014, a considerably long yet very successful tour. It was around that time that she found out she was a diabetic.
Susan’s story was such a riveting one that a stage production of her life was decided upon. The production, called I Dreamed a Dream, took the star by surprise and awe. The musical charts Susan’s rise to fame thanks to the competition show and stars Elaine C. Smith as Susan. Susan is part of the musical as well. Boyle said, “When I first saw the rehearsals and watched my own life being portrayed on the stage, I thought: ‘What’s the buzz, man? Wait a minute, what’s going on here?’ It is very strange, to say the least, to see your life acted out by other people, but then my life has been full of surreal episodes since 2009.”
The Osmond connection
Susan got the chance to sing with her childhood dream Donny Osmond. In 2012, the two were set to record two songs together as well as perform them. The songs were to be recorded for Boyle’s new album, Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs from the Stage. Donny said of Susan, “I remember watching Susan’s debut on Britain’s Got Talent. I had the same reaction Simon Cowell and the rest of the world had. Susan has the voice of an angel. I consider it an honor that she asked me to be featured on her album.”
Event after event
At the height of her fame, Susan was invited to event after event, an opening of one shop to performing endlessly at galas and shows. Boyle has said that musicals were her inspiration, stating, “I have been a fan of musicals since I was a wee girl. I love them and have enjoyed the drama and the range of emotions they inspire in you. I still remember the first time I saw Les Miserables, my all time favorite. I fell in love with it and have seen it now countless times as each time you watch it you draw something different.”
Susan made her film debut in the 2013 film The Christmas Candle. In the film she plays the role of the wife of a church warden. The film is filled with magic as it is about an angel that visits the town of Gladbury every 25 years. The period piece, as you can tell by Boyle’s outfit, starred other famous faces like Samantha Barks (who also had a role in the Les Miserables film of all things) and James Cosmo, who played her on-screen husband. Boyle, as she does, sang in the film as well.
While her mother and father always told her that she had learning disabilities due to her being deprived of oxygen at birth, the real cause of her difference ended up being something entirely different. Susan was diagnosed with Aspergers in 2013, the real reason behind her social anxiety and different way of thinking. Boyle said, “It was the wrong diagnosis when I was a kid. I was told I had brain damage. I always knew it was an unfair label. Now I have a clearer understanding of what’s wrong and I feel relieved and a bit more relaxed about myself.”
In addition to her Asperger’s syndrome diagnosis, she also discovered she was a diabetic and had changed her eating habits to the tune of a 30 pound weight loss! She lost the weight over the course of one year and is looking fantastic! Boyle has not had it easy, to say the least, as she also suffers from severe bouts of depression, emotional outbursts, and mood wings. The highly intelligent Boyle (as are most individuals on the Asperger’s spectrum) has said, “It’s just a condition that I have to live with and work through.”
Her latest album
On her latest album, Susan has a duet with Nat King Cole on the song When I Fall In Love. She said that, “There’s been a lot of speculation over the past year, but I’m great, back on track, and this album proves it. I wanted to create an album that families could enjoy, something for everyone, an album that can be played all year and evoke memories. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge Madonna fan and to be able to perform ‘Like A Prayer’ was a real highlight. As the first British artist to have been able to perform a duet with Nat King Cole’s vocals, it’s a real honor. Seven years on I still get to surprise people.”
Believe or not, unlike many other famous individuals around the world, Susan wants nothing more than a normal life. Call it her syndrome if you’d like but Boyle just likes to sing and make people happy. When she isn’t recording an album or touring, which she hasn’t done either of since 2016, Susan likes to be home and maintain a life like she had before her fateful audition. We have to say that it is incredibly commendable!
Susan has been open about disliking the media attention and being behind the stage. As part of her Aspergers syndrome, attention and social situations make her nervous and stressed. Funny enough, the only place Susan has said she feels the safest would be ON stage. “Off stage, [my bad behavior] happens lots. It always has. But I’m getting better at dealing with it because I know what it is. If I feel I’m going to take a mood swing, I get up and leave.” When people ask about her Asperger’s she said, “It’s a very difficult subject to talk about because you always feel that eyes are on you, and people view you as different. I like to see myself as someone with a problem, but one I can solve.”
At the age of 53, a couple of years ago, Susan entered into the very first relationship she has ever been in! Part of her Asperger’s syndrome means that she is socially anxious and it as affected her relationships with others, which is why she had never been in a relationship beforehand. Susan said, “People with Asperger’s do put a barrier up because they don’t know how to trust people. I try not to. I want to let people in.” She continued by describing the perfect man for her: “I’d like someone who’s a bit like my dad: a strong person, a fair person, probably a very kind person.”
Susan, who has made a lot of money through her singing, is still a very down to earth woman who cares more for other than herself. She has donated much of her income to charity, still lives in the home she shared with her late mother and father and states that the most expensive things in her home are her perfume and one fur coat. She did end up buying a house nearby but decided it was not for her so she gifted it to her niece and moved back to her family home.
As we said in the beginning, Susan always had trouble in the academic world and was therefore never inclined to attend university. However, she did receive an honorary doctorate of music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2015 and she could not have been more excited about it. Susan said it was a ‘great privilege’ to receive the honor and was seen photographing with the year’s graduating class. Well deserved, we say!
Thanks to years of records sales that have gone through the roof, as well as many events and other engagements, Susan is worth a reported $40 million! There are many conflicting accounts as to how much she is truly worth, but all estimates are in the tens of millions of dollars. Boyle has released seven studio albums throughout her short career but people seem to still be wanting her voice in their homes!
Feud with brother Gerry
With fame comes drama, and Susan was not immune to it either. Susan and her brother Gerry had a falling out in 2013 over vicious rumors that were circulated that ended up dividing the Boyle family. Happily, over two years later the two patched things up and have reunited. The issues between the two siblings escalated to a point where Susan left a very distressing message for Gerry, to which he responded, “We hadn’t spoken for two and a half years but when all is said and done I am her brother. I realized how sad it was that we didn’t speak – and that it shouldn’t be that way.”
Death of sister Birdie
Susan has been through quite a lot in the years following her Britain’s Got Talent stardom. Many of the events in her life were positive, but in 2016 Susan dealt with the heartbreaking loss of her beloved sister, Birdie. On her loss, Susan said, “It was very hard. Birdie was such a beautiful person, and very supportive of me. She was a great loss to me and the family. After she passed, I felt I had to take a step back, to find where I was going. I needed to take stock.”
Susan’s last album was released in 2016 and since then she has remained relatively low key. We were sad to learn that the reason for her laying low had to do with her being viciously bullied in her own town. Boyle has been worried for her well being and is therefore spending much of her time behind closed doors. The situation got the attention of the local police department who are helping her remain safe. We hope the situation gets resolved and those who are bothering her leave her be.