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Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle

Susan Magdalane Boyle was born on April 1, 1961 in Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland. Her father was a miner, World War II veteran, and singer, while her mother worked as a shorthand typist. Boyle came from a large family, which included four brothers and six sisters. The future star endured harsh bullying and name-calling during her adolescence, so she often turned to music for comfort at that time of her life. She sang in her local church choir and performed at karaoke pubs around her village. Boyle briefly trained in culinary arts at West Lothian College in Scotland, but her heart belonged to music. She took private vocal lessons and attended the Edinburgh Acting School prior to recording a song for the independently produced charity album, Music for a Millennium Celebration, Sounds of West Lothian in 1999. Boyle's emotional rendition of Ella Fitzgerald's "Cry Me a River" (1953) received positive reviews from local critics. Her mother, who passed away in 2007, often encouraged Boyle to audition for nationally televised programs such as "Britain's Got Talent" and "The X Factor" (ITV, 2004- ), yet Boyle felt such competitions were solely judged by looks. Her vocal coach finally convinced her to try out for "Britain's Got Talent," and as a tribute to her late mother, the singer went to an open casting call, throwing caution and fear to the wind.Boyle's preliminary audition in Glasgow led to a televised appearance on "Britain's Got Talent." The April 2009 episode featured the 47-year-old Boyle, sporting a frizzy mop of hair and a mumsy dress that looked more appropriate for a church bake sale than a primetime TV performance. She was greeted with scattered laughs from the audience as soon as she walked onstage; some even rolled their eyes. Show judge and influential music producer Simon Cowell asked Boyle why her dream of becoming a professional singer has not worked out before. She replied that she had not been given the chance, but she was hopeful it would change. With those words, Boyle sang the first few lines of "I Dreamed a Dream" from the 1980 musical "Les Miserables" and a star was instantly born. Audience members, some still in disbelief of what they were witnessing, cheered and applauded while Cowell and his fellow judges were left speechless. The rest of the world held a collective lump in their throats as the clip of a shy, unemployed, middle-aged woman singing her heart out, unknowingly starred in one of the most watched videos on the Internet. The clip was viewed by nearly 2.5 million people in the first 72 hours. Boyle's heart-touching performance as well as the global response to the viral video made her the favorite to win "Britain's Got Talent" that year. She made it all the way through to the semifinals, but ended up placing second to a British street-dance troupe called Diversity. Losing the competition coupled with the pressure of her overnight rise to fame took its toll on Boyle, who began suffering from exhaustion and emotional breakdowns after the competition ended. She was admitted to a private psychiatric facility in London the day after the "Britain's Got Talent" finale in May 2009. Cowell, who saw Boyle's reaction at the finale, commented that losing the competition proved to be too much for the fragile singer. She checked out of the clinic five days later and despite health concerns, appeared in 20 shows of the "Britain's Got Talent" concert tour. In November 2009, Boyle released her debut album I Dreamed a Dream, which featured covers of rock and pop standards, including The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" (1971) and Madonna's "You'll See" (1995). The album topped the U.S. Billboard charts for six straight weeks and garnered more media attention for Boyle. She landed appearances on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (syndicated, 1986-2011) and "Larry King Live" (CNN, 1985-2011), and was a featured artist on the televised special "NBC's People of the Year" (NBC, 2009). During her interview with Winfrey, Boyle described her life back at home was "mundane" prior to her "Britain's Got Talent" appearance.In 2010, Boyle was scheduled to perform a cover of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" on a semifinals episode of "America's Got Talent" (NBC, 2006- ). However, the appearance was cancelled, reportedly because Reed was not a Boyle fan and rejected her covering his 1972 song. A representative for Reed denied the rumors and said the song simply was not cleared in time for Boyle's "America's Got Talent" performance. As expected, Boyle did not take the news well and once again exhibited signs of stress and short temperament. Even her harshest critics, however, could not deny that whatever her issues, Boyle had been so thoroughly thrust into a new public life via a digital medium foreign to her that her problems adjusting or even comprehending her new show biz existence were not at all surprising. That same year, Boyle announced her second album, titled The Gift, was scheduled for a holiday season release.Boyle continued a steady stream of album releases, including Someone To Watch Over Me (2011), Standing Ovation: The Greatest Songs from the Stage (2012), and a second holiday release, Home For Christmas (2013). She made her film debut with a cameo role in the holiday drama "The Christmas Candle" (2013). In a December 2013 interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper, Boyle revealed that she had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism.
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