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A Tough Crowd
In April of 2009, 47-year-old Susan Boyle marched onto the Britain’s Got Talent stage and confidently announced her dream of becoming a professional singer. Looking up at a middle-aged Scottish woman dressed in a long lace dress and tights, the audience chuckled. All three judges seemed puzzled.
Simon Cowell in particular gave an exaggerated eye roll. But the second Boyle opened her mouth to sing “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables, the laughs came to a halt and jaws hit the floor. Her effortlessly powerful voice blew everyone’s expectations out of the water, leading to a standing ovation. But little did Boyle know that a performance of a few minutes would change her life forever, in more ways than one.
After a long and tough competition, Boyle came in second place. She released her first album, I Dreamed a Dream, in November 2009. Not only did it debut as number one on Billboard charts, but it also became the United Kingdom’s fastest-selling debut album. At the same time, Boyle worked to revamp her appearance, which people had previously mocked.
She changed her hair and eyebrows and began wearing lipstick. Within ten years, she managed to create a lucrative musical empire, amassing an estimated net worth of $40 million. She won three Guinness World records. She even performed for the Pope, Queen, and President Obama. Receiving such fame is a big deal, especially for someone who isn’t an ordinary, experienced musician and cultural icon. Moreover, such success came as a shock for someone with such a tough past pockmarked by losses.
Tragedy In The Family
Susan Boyle lived a very different life from most of the other contestants she competed against on Britain’s Got Talent. Boyle was older than the average participant and lived a more secluded life than her fellow contestants. Prior to auditioning for the show, Boyle had lost both her father and sister, and was living at home as her mother’s primary caretaker.
She didn’t have many friends at the time. Susan’s life centered around caring for her mother, and when she passed away in 2007, Boyle’s whole world was flipped upside down. She said in an interview with The Guardian, “I felt a part of me had died with [my mother].” But deaths in the family would later prove to be one of the many hardships she’d come to face in life.
Prior to going on the show, Boyle had been struggling financially. In an interview with The Sunday Post, she admitted to having been unable to pay her gas and electric bills and said, “I was in danger of losing our family home because I wasn’t working.”
But as one of the most incredible success stories ever, Boyle managed to captivate fans around the world with her voice, becoming an unlikely star. Her participation on Britain’s Got Talent snowballed into a lucrative music career, meaning she would never have to worry about paying her bills again. But as time would tell, not every aspect of that sudden cash influx would prove to be good.
Threatened By A Family Member
After Boyle shot to fame and was overwhelmed by the excitement and stress that usually accompanies such a drastic life change, her brother Gerry caught her off guard and asked her for $60,000. She refused to fork over the money until eventually, he threatened to take his own life.
This prompted Boyle’s nephew and older sister to step in and go public with what was happening, as they believed outing Gerry was the only way to get him to stop. What ensued was a two year-long feud between Boyle and her brother, during which they didn’t speak to one another. And as time would tell, things would only get worse before they got better.
In April 2016, Boyle was at Heathrow Airport in London when she had a very public meltdown, bad enough that eight officers were called to the scene. According to Page Six, she had been involved in a heated altercation with a staff member from the British Airways lounge.
One eyewitness gave insight into the fiasco, stating, “Nobody knew what started the argument but I was told it was something small that spiraled out of control. The cops looked concerned as she was all over the place.” In the midst of her meltdown, Boyle called her brother Gerry and left him a distressing voicemail. But no expected what would happen next.
Mending A Broken Relationship
Though Gerry hadn’t wanted to speak to his sister Susan for over two years at that point, everything changed when he received her voicemail. In an interview with The Mirror, he said that hearing her sound so down really concerned him. He reassured his sister that he would always be there for her and invited her to his home.
While at his home, Boyle had the opportunity to meet Gerry’s grandson Alfie for the first time. She became smitten by the young boy, and spoke about the possibility of wanting to adopt her own in the future. But while she had the means to provide a child with a lavish lifestyle, she preferred to maintain a simple life — and made a decision that not many would.
“The Posh House”
Hot off Britain’s Got Talent and with an erupting bank account, Boyle purchased what she still refers to as “the posh house.” It cost her £350,000, according to Celebs Now, and boasted five bedrooms and three bathrooms. It even came equipped with electronic gates for heightened security.
And while it was located twenty miles west of the Scottish capital in her Blackburn, West Lothian hometown, it still made Boyle feel too far-removed from her humble upbringing. She lived there for only a few months before deciding it was too nice for her, and gifting it to her niece to live in. She then made the decision to live in an unlikely home for a multimillionaire.
Back To The Council House
After just a few months living in “the posh house,” Boyle moved back to her parents’ council house, telling Express that it’s part of her history, since it’s where she lived almost all her life. And while she moved there alone, she claimed that it didn’t feel as such.
Boyle told the Daily Mail in an interview that she still felt her late mother’s presence in the house and that living there helped her hold onto the memories they shared. She added, “I love my home, it’s where I feel safe.” But Boyle would learn the hard way that she wasn’t as safe as she thought she was in her neighborhood.
Discovering An Intruder
In January 2010, Boyle traveled to London to record the Helping Haiti single in the aftermath of the destructive earthquake that had crippled the Caribbean island nation. Organized by Simon Cowell, she sang a cover of REM’s “Everybody Hurts” alongside other giant names in music like Mariah Carey, Cheryl Cole, and James Blunt.
According to The Scottish Sun, when Boyle returned home from recording, she was horrified to find a burglar half-way up her staircase. A teenage boy had entered her property while she was away and rifled through her belongings. While Boyle was thankfully with a friend at the time, she was still left frightened and shocked. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only disturbing incident she encountered in her neighborhood.
A Victim Of Bullying
Teenagers in Boyle’s neighborhood also proved to cause her a lot of trouble. Not only did one attempt to burglarize her home, but others bullied her incessantly. In an interview with the Daily Mail, she opened up about being a victim of local hoodlums.
Boyle said the louts went so far as to shout and swear “vile things” at her, throw stones at her, and even toss paper at her that they previously had lit on fire. Their torments brought back a rush of horrible feelings for the singer, who had withstood years of bullying as a child for being different. But being bullied wasn’t the only tough part of growing up for Boyle.
An Unfair Label
Boyle had spent the majority of her life feeling like an outcast. She suffered from severe depression, mood swings, and sudden emotional outbursts. On top of that, she had extreme social anxiety, which made relating to others a very big challenge.
Boyle’s family had always known there was something different about her. She was very smart, yet learned at a slower pace than the rest of her classmates. They told her it was because she had brain damage after not receiving enough oxygen at birth. Boyle later admitted to The Guardian, “I always knew it was an unfair label.” And at 52 years old, she would finally come to understand just how unfair it truly was.
The Long-Awaited Diagnosis
In 2013, at 52 years old, Boyle sought out help from a specialist. She wanted to know whether it was right to attribute her symptoms to brain damage, or if there was something she hadn’t previously known. Sure enough, it was the latter. The specialist performed an IQ test and determined that Boyle’s was, in fact, above average.
She was then diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. While Boyle received this news a few years after she had already become a celebrity, it felt like another new beginning, as she told The Guardian that she felt “relieved” and “a bit more relaxed about [herself].” But just because she finally had answers didn’t mean her hardships were gone. And as she would see, Asperger’s would have the power to impact her career as a musician.
“King Kong’s Mother”
In a 2014 interview with Express, Boyle opened up about what it’s like living with Asperger’s and how her sudden emotional outbursts manifest themselves. She compared her temper tantrums and fits of swearing and crying to acting like “King Kong’s mother.” Boyle added, “I’m the only artist who needs a leash!”
While she is able to joke about it, she still says that having Asperger’s makes it harder for her to survive in the music industry because people don’t understand her. She told HELLO!, “Any change in life, so quickly, is stressful because one minute you’re at home with your cat and the next you’re away with all of the camera people.” But for having to face such an obstacle, fans were surprised by her attitude towards performing.
Feeling Accepted On Stage
While off stage Boyle is prone to emotional fits of temper, there is one thing she knows for sure: that while she is performing, she doesn’t need to worry about having an outburst. The singer spoke to the Daily Mail about being on stage, saying, “It never happens on stage…I feel safe. I don’t feel judged up there. I feel accepted.”
Through her on-stage performances, fans are able to hear Boyle’s mesmerizing voice. But her voice holds more power than just singing. The star is also considered a voice for people with Asperger’s, having brought light to the community and making its members feel more socially accepted. But after having touched so many people with her story and voice, Boyle suddenly disappeared from the spotlight.
Disappearing From The Spotlight
Scottish-born Susan Boyle took the world by storm following her participation in the third season of Britain’s Got Talent. But after becoming a face people all around the world could recognize, she utterly withdrew from the limelight. She wasn’t in the news, and was totally absent from social media.
Fans around the world started to take notice that Susan had disappeared. What started out as curiosity later turned to worry as time went on. Some fans even commented on her last Instagram post in 2013 asking where she was and how she was doing. In the end, Boyle’s disappearance lasted a full five years. But in October 2018, she put an end to her silence with a very exciting announcement.
Planning A Comeback
On October 10, 2018, following a five year hiatus from social media, Boyle uploaded a video montage of her performing on Instagram. Attached to it was an exciting announcement: she was done hiding from the media and was ready to make a comeback!
Her caption read, “Susan Boyle is back and ready to remind the world of her voice that inspired millions and her incredible journey over the past nine years…#susanboyleisback.” Fans around the world were elated and commented encouraging words on her post, exclaiming they had been waiting for this moment for too long. But now that she’s back, fans are wondering where she went.
Taking Time Off To Grow
In a 2018 interview with The Sun, Boyle gave insight into why no one had heard from her in a matter of years. She explained that it had been her own decision to step out of the spotlight, and that while she was giving small performances in Scotland, she wanted to take a break from the media and international tours so that she could “grow up.”
Not often does one hear a 57-year-old woman say she needs to take time to grow up, but given Boyle’s astronomical sudden rise to fame and her diagnosis, this made sense. She knew what she needed to do and she did just that. A key part of that growth would be transforming her public image.
Dramatic Weight Loss
Boyle’s life was on a fast track after going on Britain’s Got Talent. Having a schedule jam-packed with appearances, performances, and international tours understandably took a toll on her health, and in 2012, the singer was diagnosed with Type II diabetes.
She knew it was time to improve her health if she did not want to suffer from serious long-term consequences. So while she took her break from the media, Boyle focused on getting healthy. She cut out cakes and sweets, which she called the “bane of [her] life,” and lost nearly 30 pounds. But while she lost weight, she gained something else.
Boyle’s First Boyfriend
When Boyle auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, she told the cameras that she was unemployed, lived alone with her cat Pebbles, and had “never been kissed.” But fans suspected that last point may have changed after the singer landed her first boyfriend at the age of 53.
While on a six-week tour around the United States, Boyle met an American doctor at her Florida hotel. The two hit it off, and according to The Sun, she called him a “perfect gentleman.” She was blown away by how he’d even paid for the bill. But as time would tell, forming a romantic relationship wouldn’t be without its obstacles for someone with Asperger’s.
Breaking Down Barriers
When speaking to the Daily Mail in 2014 about living with Asperger’s, Boyle explained that building relationships are a challenge, as “people with Asperger’s put a barrier up because they don’t know how to trust people.” She did add, however, that she is trying her hardest to “let people in.”
And while Boyle’s relationship with the American doctor ended up being short-lived, it nonetheless allowed her space to practice taking down those very barriers. She revealed to Express in a 2018 interview that her greatest fear is living a lonely, unmarried life. But there is undoubtedly still hope for the singer. What’s more, she gave a rather wacky description of her ideal partner.
Susan’s Ideal Man
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Boyle gave insight into how her ideal man would sound, look, and act. She said he would have Donny Osmond’s voice, Simon Cowell’s good looks, and Piers Morgan’s sense of humor. She even joked that she “would have married Piers, but someone else got there first.”
Her inclusion of Simon Cowell says a lot, considering the visibly unkind way he had written her off during her now-famous initial audition. She told The Sun of Simon: “He’s not Mr. Nasty at all. He’s a pussycat and I can’t wait to show him the new and improved Susan.” And by the looks of it, Boyle is making moves to do just that.
Since announcing her comeback, Susan Boyle is showing no signs of slowing down. She told the Daily Mail that she believes retirement is a “dirty word” and she isn’t planning to leave the stage anytime soon. She only hopes that people will continue liking her and that she wont “go stale.”
Speaking to The Sun, Boyle promised not to let her fans down, revealing she has been working extremely hard to “grow as an artist, improve [her] voice, and become more comfortable in [her] own skin.” After so many years of silence, it seemed Boyle is confident enough to take the stage once more. It was time to take the leap.
Competing Once More
At the start of 2019, Boyle hopped across The Pond and competed in America’s Got Talent: The Champions, in what was her first television performance since her breakout audition in 2009. She had a pretty successful run on the show, making it to the finale but ultimately being eliminated before she could be crowned the winner.
Boyle was supposed to compete once more in Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions, but announced in the summer of 2019 that she was withdrawing from the competition because of a packed schedule. Cowell commented on her withdrawal, saying on the Lorraine Show, “I don’t think she should have done it this year. She did AGT Champions and…if this does well, we’ll do it again next year and it will be an annual event. So you’ve got to save something.” It seems like fans can expect to hear more from Boyle in the near future.
Her Latest Album
On May 31, 2019, Boyle released her latest album, TEN, a full decade after the release of her debut album, I Dreamed a Dream. Along with its release, the singer is also said to be gearing up for a nationwide tour. This will be her first major tour in six years, and the excitement surrounding it is practically electric.
Boyle promised fans that this next tour will be “nothing you’ve seen before.” She also revealed her enthusiasm in an interview with Press Association about “getting into the studio and rehearsing and coming up with exciting new material,” saying she “can’t wait to get back on that stage.” Who else is excited!?