Sunday, April 26, 2009

Susan Magdalene Boyle Biography

Susan Boyle (born 1 April, 1961) is a Scottish singer and church volunteer who came to public attention on 11 April 2009, when she appeared as a contestant on the third series of Britain's Got Talent. Boyle found fame when she sang "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables in the competition's first round.

Before she sang, both the audience and the judges appeared to express scepticism based on her unpolished appearance. In contrast, her vocal performance was so well received that she has been dubbed "The Woman Who Shut Up Simon Cowell." She received a standing ovation from the live audience, garnering yes-votes from Cowell and Amanda Holden, and the "biggest yes I have ever given anybody" from Piers Morgan. The audition was recorded in January 2009 at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow, Scotland, and was first broadcast on Saturday, 11 April 2009 in Britain.

The juxtaposition of the reception to her voice with the audience's first impression of her triggered global interest. Articles about her appeared in newspapers all over the world, while the numbers who watched videos of her audition set an online record. By 20 April 2009, a mere 9 days after her televised debut, viral videos of her audition, subsequent interviews of her, and her 1999 rendition of "Cry Me a River" had been viewed over 100 million times on the Internet. Cowell is reported to be setting up a contract with Boyle with his Syco Music company label, a subsidiary of Sony Music.

Boyle was born in Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland to Patrick Boyle, a storeman at the British Leyland factory in Bathgate, and Bridget Boyle, a shorthand typist: her parents were Irish immigrants. The youngest in a family of four brothers and six sisters, of whom only six survive, Boyle was born when her mother was 47. The Sunday Times writes that it was a difficult birth, during which Boyle was briefly deprived of oxygen. She was diagnosed as having learning difficulties, which led to bullying. She was labelled "Susie Simple" at school but quickly learned to overcome those who derided her.

After leaving school with few qualifications, she was employed for the only time in her life as a trainee cook in the kitchen of West Lothian College for six months, and took part in government training schemes. She would visit the theatre from time to time to listen to professional singers, and performed at a number of local venues. She took singing lessons from a voice coach, Fred O'Neil. In 1995, she auditioned for Michael Barrymore's My Kind of People, which was looking for contestants at the Braehead Shopping Centre in Glasgow, but she said she was too nervous to make a good impression. The Guardian reports that she attended Edinburgh Acting School, and has taken part in the Edinburgh Fringe. In 1999 she recorded "Cry Me a River" for a charity CD funded by the local council to commemorate the Millennium. O'Neil has said Boyle abandoned an audition for The X Factor because she believed people were being chosen for their looks, and that she almost abandoned her plan to enter Britain's Got Talent. O'Neil told The Scotsman: "I remember a phone call late last year when she said she was too old and that it was a young person's game". O'Neil persuaded her to go to the audition.

Boyle's father died in the 1990s, and her siblings had left home, leaving Boyle to look after her ageing mother, who died in 2007 at the age of 91. Boyle still lives in the family home, a four-bedroom council house, with her ten-year-old cat, Pebbles. Boyle's devotion to caring for her mother was such that she did not have any time for herself. One neighbour reported that Boyle struggled to cope with the loss of her mother, stating that she "wouldn't come out for three or four days or answer the door or phone". Her mother had always encouraged her to enter local singing competitions, which she won several times, and tried to persuade her daughter to enter Britain's Got Talent, urging her to take the risk of singing in front of an audience larger than her parish church. Boyle has said she did not feel ready to do it until after her mother's death, saying that it was that event which propelled her to go on Britain's Got Talent and seek a musical career as her way of paying a tribute to her mother. Her performance on the show was the first time she had sung since then.

At the time of her Britain's Got Talent audition, Boyle was unemployed, yet active as a volunteer with the Roman Catholic church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Blackburn. She has never married; and during an interview just before she sang on the talent show, she said she had also "never been kissed" but later added, "Oh, I was just joking around. It was just banter and it has been blown way out of proportion.

Early recordings
The earliest known footage of Boyle's talents comes from her parents' golden wedding party, where she sang "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, aged 25.

Boyle recorded a version of "Cry Me a River" for a compilation charity CD entitled "Music for a Millennium Celebration, Sounds of West Lothian", which was produced in 1999 at a school in Whitburn, West Lothian. A reviewer for the West Lothian Herald & Post wrote at the time, "... the true show-stopper for me is Susan Boyle's heartbreaking rendition of "Cry Me a River", which has been on repeat in my CD player ever since I got this CD..." This recording was released onto the web in the week after April 11, 2009, and gained immediate acclaim, with the New York Post writing that this showed that Boyle was not a "one trick pony" and that the rarity of the CD imprint, with only 1,000 produced, would make them valuable collector's items. Other media reaction was similarly positive, with Hello! magazine stating that the recording was a further illustration of the level of Boyle's talent, which "cements her status" as a singing star.

In 1999, Boyle used "all her savings" to pay for a professionally cut demo tape, which she later sent to record companies, radio talent competitions, local and national TV and which has now been released on the Internet. It consisted of "Cry Me a River" and her version of "Killing Me Softly with His Song". Boyle gave away a few copies to her close friends.

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