Susan Boyle of Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland, is forty-seven. She’s frumpy, unemployed, lives alone with her cat and has never even been kissed. And . . . she . . . just . . . blew . . . away . . . the judges and crowd in her audition for Britain’s Got Talent on Saturday, April 11, 2009.
Wow. Be prepared to be moved. Big time.
The judges and crowd had dismissed her—and were openly mocking her—before she sang a note. The looks on their faces when she started singing I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables are priceless. They were on their feet before she finished the first stanza. Incredible.
What made Susan’s performance even more touching was the song itself, a song she has essentially lived, a song that cries out to the lonely and unwanted, a song that offers not comfort, but salt in the wounds of dreams unfulfilled.
Yes, there are dreams that cannot be. Ah, but thanks to shows like this that offer hope to disenfranchised dreamers everywhere, Susan’s dream is just now beginning.
Hers is a story of beauty and grace and inspiration on so many levels. It is the ugly-duckling-turns-into-a-swan fairy tale come to life. This was the first time we have heard of Susan Boyle. It will not be the last.
The lyrics of I Dreamed A Dream are at the end of this post; the portions Susan sung are highlighted.
We interrupt this recap of The Week Susan Boyle Took The World By Storm to bring you Susan’s semifinal performance of Memory from the musical Cats on May 23, 2009.
Here are the results of the first of the five semifinal heats. (Each semifinal includes eight different contestants. Two from each of the five semifinals will advance to the finals on Saturday, May 30.)
Here is Susan’s performance in the finals on May 30, 2009.
And here is the announcement of the winner!
It didn’t take long for Susan’s first fansite to appear. Check out this site for all the latest news and video about Susan.
Here is a short interview with Susan on the show after her performance.
Here are Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell being interviewed about Susan.
Here is a two-minute feature on England’s Channel 5 on Wednesday, April 15 that includes comments from actors in the current production of Les Miserables.
Here is a three-minute feature about Susan on the CBS Evening News on Wednesday, April 15.
Here is Susan’s interview on CBS’ The Early Show the following morning, Thursday, April 16, in which she sings part of I Dreamed A Dream from her living room. She also receives praise from surprise guest Patti LuPone, who originated the Les Miserables role on Broadway.
Here is Susan singing My Heart Will Go On during her interview with CNN’s Larry King on Friday, April 17. Piers Morgan, a judge on Britain’s Got Talent, is also a guest. He asks Susan to dinner and she accepts. Piers is responding to comments made by Susan about him in an interview. Read the story here, courtesy of the April 18 Daily Beast.
Here she tells WLC Online’s (West Lothian Courier) Richard Mooney about her memorable night.
Want to hear another song by Susan? Your wish is my command! Here she is singing Cry Me a River for a charity CD organized by her local newspaper in 1999. Only a thousand copies of the CD were distributed. Read the full story here.
And here is an interview on STV’s Five Thirty Show with Eddie Anderson, the man behind the 1999 charity CD mentioned in the paragraph above.
FInally, here is twenty-two-year-old Susan singing the Barbara Streisand hit The Way We Were and I Don’t Know How To Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar during a 1984 competition at Fir Park Social Club in the Scottish town of Motherwell. The singing contest was between locals and visitors from a Midlands club. Susan was drafted into the Coventry Tam O’Shanter Club’s team because someone had dropped out.
THE WAY WE WERE
I DON’T KNOW HOW TO LOVE HIM
Susan’s magnificent debut was even more unexpected than that of Paul Potts, who won this contest two years ago. Here is Paul’s star-making audition. And speaking of surprising performances, it would be a glaring omission not to mention eleven-year-old Bianca Ryan, who blew the roof off during her 2006 audition for America’s Got Talent, a contest she eventually won. Incidentally, Piers Morgan, who was a judge for all three of the above auditions, said after Susan’s performance:
Without a doubt, that was the biggest surprise I have had in three years of this show. When you stood there with that cheeky grin and said, “I want to be like Elaine Page,” everyone was laughing at you. No one is laughing now. That was stunning. an incredible performance. Amazing. I’m reeling from shock. How about you two (to Amanda and Simon). I can’t believe it.
Out of nowhere, wIth one song, Susan Boyle went legend. In less than 48 hours, more than two million people watched her performance on YouTube. (UPDATE: In 72 hours, Susan’s YouTube videos compiled more than five and a half million views.) The April 13 edition of Mail Online, the digital version of the British newspaper, The Daily Mail, included these comments:
Miss Boyle revealed she was battling deep personal anguish as she sang the track from the West End stage show Les Miserables.
It was the first time she had sung in public since the death of her mother two years ago.
The church volunteer from West Lothian said she could not bring herself to sing after the death of her mother Bridget, 91, in 2007.
Miss Boyle said she was only persuaded to sing when she heard about auditions for the show.
‘I was left really upset,’ she said. ‘Because of the bereavement, I had decided to give up singing. Up until then I was singing in the church choir and doing karaoke regularly, but I just didn’t feel up to it after that.
‘When I heard about the auditions for Britain’s Got Talent I decided to get back into singing and start enjoying life again.
‘I wasn’t sure how my voice would sound after so long but the reception I got from the audience and the judges was fantastic.’
She lives alone with her cat Pebbles on a council estate in remote Bathgate.
Miss Boyle has admitted she has never been on a date, or even been kissed.
‘I’ll get used to the fame side of things with baby steps - one step at a time. I am enjoying it very much just now. It’s very good. I’ll take the fame in my stride.’
She added: ‘Mum lived with me and she was my life - I cared for her.
‘But she urged me to enter this show as she said I had a fantastic voice. So this year I thought I’d go for it - and I can’t believe what has happened.’
She added: ‘I hope my mum and dad Patrick are looking down on me - they’ll be so proud.’
Miss Boyle told the Mail she is facing the prospect of fame cautiously.
Susan’s life will never be the same again. Indeed, when she woke up the next morning, her world looked very different than it did twenty-four hours earlier. For instance, the morning after her Saturday night performance, she received an ovation when she walked into church!
Here is an article about Susan from scotsman.com. It has some good information although I noticed a few errors in it—they got the name of her song wrong—so don’t take it as the gospel truth.
Here is a San Francisco Chronicle article about Susan from April 16.
Here is an article about Susan from the April 17 online edition of New York magazine.
I DREAMED A DREAM
There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong
I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame
He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he’ll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed
Click here to view the best acts from The X Factor, America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent.
ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?
Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier
Here is a two-minute video introduction to Through God’s Eyes.
• an overview of the book
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• the Foreword by Caroline Myss
• my Introduction
• chapter excerpts
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Phil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent people he interviewed, including Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford, Dr. Larry Dossey, Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, Caroline Myss, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, James Van Praagh, singer Billy Vera, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, and bassist Victor Wooten.
Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories. Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers. Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.
Sixty Seconds was one of three finalists in the General Interest/How-To category at the 12th annual Visionary Awards presented by COVR (Coalition of Visionary Resources) in Denver on June 27, 2009.