Susan Boyle is perhaps the most recognizable name in Britain's Got Talent history. Despite placing second in the 2009 finale, her strong vocal talent led to her becoming an instant success in the music industry. But before all the tours and albums and receiving worldwide fandom, Susan first had to overcome her naysayers and doubters — including the show's judges at the time Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, and Piers Morgan.
Susan had a tough time before Britain's Got Talent.
Well before Britain's Got Talent was on her radar, Susan had dreams of becoming a performer when she was just 12 years old, according to . Unfortunately though, Susan was often bullied and cruelly dubbed "Simple Susan" while growing up. In 2013, that she had been diagnosed with , despite growing up thinking she had "learning difficulties."
Singing, though, was always there for her. But, like so many hopefuls in the industry, the Scottish native was often overlooked. Despite attending Edinburgh Acting School, Susan told that her attempts to make it — like recording a charity CD of "Cry Me a River" in 1999 and appearing on Britain's ITV show My Kind of People — didn't result in much. In the early 2000s, Susan also took some time off from singing in order to care for her mother, who passed away in 2007.
It wasn't until she saw Paul Potts, the winner of the first season of Britain's Got Talent, make it that she decided to give it a go. Paul was a cell phone salesman before stepping on stage and has since become an opera star. If Paul could do it, perhaps Susan could too. As it turns out, her logic was spot on.
The audition that changed everything.
After her voice impressed judges at a preliminary audition, she was sent to the 3,000-person audience audition at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow, Scotland. At the time, Susan was an unemployed charity worker living alone with her cat Pebbles. She would sometimes sing in front of her parish, but had never performed in front of a large audience before.
It's clear that many watching in the crowd didn't expect Susan to make it, based solely on what she revealed about herself: she had never been kissed, aspired to be successful like Elaine Paige, was 48 years old, and from a small town. But when she began to sing the first few notes of "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables, everything instantly changed.
"Without a doubt, that was the biggest surprise I have had in three years on this show," Piers announced. "When you stood there with that cheeky grin and said, 'I want to be like Elaine Paige,' everyone was laughing at you. No one is laughing now."
Apparently, about Susan weeks before the audition even aired on television. And when it was finally revealed to the world, her performance did not disappoint.
From singing in front of her church to singing in front of the world.
Merely days later, her audition got attention all over the globe. It aired on (and even ). Susan also became the talk of the internet. Today, one of the first has amassed nearly 233 million views. She was so popular, that even like Patti LuPone, Demi Moore, and Ashton Kutcher commented on her talent.
Today, Susan has sold more than 25 million records worldwide. She had a for the second time in one year (only the Monkees and the Beatles have done this before Susan). All of her success has been recognized with awards too. She has been nominated for several Billboard Music Awards and Grammy Awards, and has won a World Music Award, Japan Gold Disc Award, Radio Forth Award, and Scottish Music Award.
Although, the 57-year-old singer lost America's Got Talent: The Champions in February 2019, fans everywhere are rooting for her and her success. But really, no one believes in Susan more than Susan.
"Every time I got a frisson of fear I tried to remember what Frank Quinn was always telling me," she wrote in her book . "Susan, believe in yourself. You are the person writing your story.”