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Susan Boyle - The Biography of an Amazing Talent

Updated on December 13, 2013

This is just a brief biography on the life of Susan Boyle, or SuBo, as she is better known as these days.

Susan Boyle is an amazingly talented woman who may have been sorely lacking in the beauty and brains departments, but has more than made up with it with her stoic personality and cheerful outlook on life, and her fantastic singing voice.

She became an instant internet hit the world over after her appearance on the UK's Britain's Got Talent in April 2009.

She almost bounced on to the stage, swinging her hips, showing an unexpected confidence for someone who looked like she could be a wee Scottish granny who you could imagine kept her knitting in her bag off-stage.

During a brief interview with the judging panel, which consisted of Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell, Susan confessed she wanted to be a professional singer like Elaine Paige, to the disbelief and derision of the audience.

The cameras watched the judging panel, including the snarky TV talent guru Simon Cowell, roll their eyes at her appearance and her replies, especially where she admitted to being 47 years old.

As she started to sing, however, the audience went wild, and it was a wonder the poor woman could keep going.

She sang "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables with such perfection that the panel were almost overcome with emotion as they were treated to real star quality shining through, form someone who looked like the most unlikely of stars.

If you missed the YouTube video of the performance that set Susan Boyle on the road to stardom, you can watch it here, below.

Susan Boyle's Very Early Days

Susan Boyle was born in the coal-mining village of Blackburn, West Lothian in Scotland, on 1st April (April Fool’s Day), 1961, to parents Patrick and Bridget, Irish immigrants from County Donegal. She was the youngest of 10 children. Her mother was 47 years old when she was born, and Susan suffered a little oxygen deprivation at birth, resulting in a later diagnosis of ‘learning difficulties’. This affected her schooling where she was bullied by other children, and she left with very little qualifications. Her only recorded employed work was six months as a trainee cook, but she also participated in some Government training schemes.

Update: Susan has recently learned that she suffers from a form of autism, known as Asperger's.

Susan never married and stayed at home to look after her elderly mother who died aged 91, in 2007 (her father died many years earlier).

Fred O'Neil, Voice Coach

Susan Boyle started singing in church choirs and choral societies, doing so well it gave her the confidence to take singing lessons from Fred O’Neill, a professional voice coach based in Livingston, West Lothian, and under his guidance later entered many other singing competitions before Britain’s Got Talent, where she shot to fame overnight after the cameras recorded the shocked expressions on the faces of both the panel and the audience after she began to sing I Dreamed a Dream, a song taken from the stage musical Les Miserables.

In her earlier years Susan attended Edinburgh Acting School and took once took part in the Fringe Festival held annually in Edinburgh.

X Factor

Before Britain’s Got Talent, it is reported she queued to audition for the X-Factor at Glasgow’s SECC, but backed out at the last minute when it became obvious to her that the panel were only choosing contestants who were young and good-looking.

My Kind of People

In 1995 Susan Boyle also tried to audition for a show called ‘My Kind of People’ at The Olympia Shopping Centre in East Kilbride, Scotland, where, it has been reported, she was mocked by presenter Michael Barrymore.

Susan Boyle
Susan Boyle | Source

Millennium Recording

In 1999 Susan Boyle took part in a charity recording to celebrate the Millennium, produced by a local West Lothian school, of which only 1000 copies were made. This album had the unwieldy title ‘Music for a Millennium Celebration, Sounds of West Lothian’ and included Susan singing Cry Me A River which according to the review from the West Lothian Post, the melancholic sounds had reduced the writer to tears and remained a ‘must play’ tune.

Demo Tape

That same year, Susan used all her savings to pay for a professional demo tape which she later sent to record companies, radio stations and local and national TV companies.

This demo tape was unearthed and uploaded to the internet after her success on Britain’s Got Talent.

Britain's Got Talent

After Susan Boyle won many local singing contests, her mother encouraged her to enter Britain’s Got Talent. After she died it was her voice coach, Fred O’Neil who persuaded her to go ahead. By now, Susan felt she had gone as far as she could with her singing career and that it was a ‘young person’s game’. Spurred on by Fred’s encouragement, and as a final wish to her mother, she entered the show at Glasgow’s SECC on the 11th April, 2009.

Susan Boyle's meteoric rise to fame in 2009, after her success on Britain's Got Talent

What a year 2009 was for SuBo! She went to the States to promote the songs from her as-yet-unreleased first album.

In September, she appeared on the final of America's Got Talent, where she performed The Rolling Stone's song "Wild Horses", featured on her forthcoming album, in front of as estimated audience of 13 million.

In November, she appeared on NCB's Today Show where she sang 3 songs on live TV "Wild Horses", "Cry me a River" and "I Dreamed a Dream".

That same month she also sang live on the US show "Dancing With the Stars".

She appeared on the UK's show "X-Factor", but the highlight of 2009 for Susan Boyle must have been when she was given her own TV Show in the UK where she sang a duet live with her heroine, Elaine Paige.

Watch the video below to see this stunning performance.

Susan Boyle and Elaine Paige Duet

Susan Boyle's first album, I Dreamed a Dream

Susan Boyle’s much-vaulted first album, I Dreamed a Dream, was released on 23rd of November, 2009, and quickly rose to become the top selling album, WORLDWIDE, of that year, selling 9 million copies.

I Dreamed a Dream, the album, entered the US Billboard charts at Number 1, and went on to quickly becoming the 2nd biggest selling album in the US for 2009.

It entered the UK charts at Number 1, thanks to pre-release sales on Amazon, to become the fastest-selling UK album ever.

The songs on the album were:

1. Wild Horses -original writer/artist The Rolling Stones

2. I Dreamed a Dream - from Les Miserables (Alain Boublil)

3. Cry me a River - original writer/artist Arthur Hamilton

4. How Great Thou Art - Christian Hymn

5. You’ll See - original writer/artist Madonna

6. Daydream Believer - original writer/artists The Monkees

7. Up to the Mountain - original writer/artist Patty Griffin

8. Amazing Grace`` - Christian Hymn

9. Who I was Born to Be - originally recorded by

10. Proud - original writer/artist Heather Small

11. The End of the World - original writer/artist Skeeter Davis

12. Silent Night - original writer/artist Father Josef Mohr

His voice is fantastic and oh so pure and she has made each of these songs her own.

Susan Boyle's second album, The Gift, was released in 2010, and her third album "Someone To Watch Over Me", was released in 2011.

Susan Boyle's 2nd album, The Gift, released November 2010

Obviously cynically aimed at the Christmas market, the Gift featured Christmas songs including "The First Noel" and "Away in A Manger" among others.

By this time, Susan had been surrounded by marketing men and I get the impression she was being manipulated.

Not the bright star in the sky, Susan had made a financial killing with her first album, but was reportedly not allowed access to her own money, it having been tucked away by her record company and producers, supposedly in her own interest.

While she was earnings millions, the British Press reported that she was unable to access it, and was only allowed £300 a week 'spending money'.

Whether this was a good thing or not, I'm not qualified to say, but it does seem to be true that Susan, being slight brain-damaged at birth, may not have been the best person to handle huge sums of money.

Before The Gift was recorded, a competition was launched by her record company that offered fans the chance to duet with Susan on one of the songs on the album. "Susan's Search", as the competition was called, requested viewers to upload a video to YouTube of themselves singing Silent Night.

It was won by a 33 year paramedic, Amber Stassi, from New York.

The album went on to do really well in the US, Canada and Australia, but in the UK it hit hit the top spot for one week.

Someone To Watch Over Me, Susan Boyle's 3rd album, released October 2011

Someone To Watch Over Me quickly hit the Number 1 spot in the UK charts, her third album in a row to hit the position.

In the US BIllboard charts it reached Number 4, and also reached the top of the Australian charts.

SuBo's mansion
SuBo's mansion | Source
Susan Boyle's old semi-detached council home
Susan Boyle's old semi-detached council home | Source

As of April, 2011, SuBo is back living in the council house she grew up in.

She did buy what she calls 'the mansion', a $500,000 5 bedroomed home just half a mile from the semi-detached miner's house she grew up.

She furnished it out beautifully, but could not bear to spend the night there, preferring her old bed at home.

She did, however, move into it briefly after facing a burgalr who entered through a window in her old home to steal just £9 ($12) from her purse.

Her 'mansion', was very near Blackburn, West Lothian's only police station, and she felt safer, for a time.

Neighbors on the up-market new estate were less than happy, due to the hordes of fans who turned up daily to catch a glimpse of her, parking in their spaces and creating a noise nuisance.

Susan Boyle herself erected a high chain link fence around her property to help secure some kind of privacy, but in the end, she gave up and went to her council home, which she plans to buy with some of her estimated £17 ($25) million fortune.

Piers Morgan on Sky News 26th November 2009


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    • profile image

      lelia goddard 

      6 years ago

      I think that you are just fantastic you givr me hope for the foture

    • green tea-cher profile image

      green tea-cher 

      8 years ago

      What a story! Your hub is a great tribute to Susan. It is so wonderful that she can share her beautiful voice with us. Her story must be an inspiration to many.

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from UK

      Cheere Camlo, actually she is the first person I've ever heard singing that song since the Rolling Stones version on the album Sticky Fingers! Like hers better!

    • camlo profile image

      Camlo De Ville 

      8 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      Hi IzzyM!

      Have never heard that version of 'Wild Horses' before -- truly moving ...

      As is Susan's whole success story.

      You've done a good job on this Hub!

      All the best, Camlo

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from UK

      Me too xx

    • fishtiger58 profile image


      8 years ago from Momence, Illinois

      I love Suzane Boyle, love her voice.

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK

      Thanks hun:) I think she's great too xx

    • keira7 profile image


      9 years ago

      I am a big fan of the X.Factor, and have a lot of admiration for Suzane Boyle. I really like your hub. Thanks.:) God Bless.

    • IzzyM profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from UK

      Thanks Lorraine:)

      Added a video at the foot of this page that was live on Sky News all day today, after suggestions she wasn't coping in America.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      and i believe she is in trouble in New York again, breaking down with all the fans ...... does seem a bit odd advertising M, Jackson dont it,,,,,, lovely hub


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