- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 27, 2011

Scottish singer Susan Boyle celebrates her 50th birthday on April 1. The humble and unknown singer became a worldwide sensation after her success on “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2009. The clip of her performance singing “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical “Les Miserables” spread like wildfire on YouTube. Soon she was on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” The List this weeks look at her amazing story.

  • Fame — She came to fame when she appeared as a contestant on the reality-TV program “Britain’s Got Talent” on April 11, 2009, singing “I Dreamed a Dream.” She was an overnight sensation.
  • Story of the year — Her stunning shot to international stardom on the back of her appearance on the TV talent show was voted the No. 2 entertainment story in 2009, behind Michael Jackson’s death, according to U.S. newspaper and broadcast editors surveyed by the Associated Press.
  • YouTube— Her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” has had more than 350 million hits on YouTube and is one of the most watched of all time.
  • Breakdown — The Cinderella-like Scottish singer finished second on “Britain’s Got Talent,” behind a dance troupe called Diversity. Within 24 hours of the show, she suffered an emotional breakdown and was treated at private clinic’s psychiatric unit.
  • Album sales — Her record-breaking debut album, “I Dreamed a Dream,” became the best-selling album of 2009 and has sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.
  • Record hits — When her follow-up single “The Gift” was released in November 2010, Miss Boyle became the first female artist ever to reach No. 1 simultaneously on both the U.S. and U.K. album charts twice within 12 months. She is one of just three acts to have achieved that feat, joining the Monkees in 1967 and the Beatles in 1969.
  • Guinness World Records — In September 2010, Miss Boyle's “I Dreamed a Dream” album was officially recognized by Guinness World Records as having had the fastest-selling debut of any album by a female artist in the United Kingdom and the most successful first-week sales of a debut album in the United Kingdom. Miss Boyle also set the record for being the oldest person to reach No. 1 with a debut album in the U.K.
  • Parents — She was born in Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland, to Patrick Boyle, a miner, World War II veteran and singer, and Bridget, a shorthand typist, who were both immigrants from County Donegal, Ireland.
  • Crime — An unidentified 16-year-old boy was detained and released after breaking into Miss Boyle’s house in January 2010. Miss Boyle saw the youth run out of her home in the small Scottish village of Blackburn as she was returning from a charity event.
  • Never been kissed — After her first performance on “Britain’s Got Talent,” Miss Boyle, an unemployed middle-aged church volunteer, said she had “never been kissed.” She drew titters when she told the judges her ambition was to be a professional singer.
  • Blessed — She sang for Pope Benedict XVI, performed for Prince Charles and sang “Don’t Dream It’s Over” on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in October 2010.
  • Praise — The normally acerbic judge Simon Cowell said her singing was “extraordinary.” Piers Morgan said her “stunning” performance was “the biggest surprise I’ve had in three years of this show.”
  • Praise II — At the 2010 Grammy Awards, Stephen Colbert paid tribute to Miss Boyle, telling the audience, “You may be the coolest people in the world, but this year, your industry was saved by a 48-year-old Scottish cat lady in sensible shoes.”
  • Oprah — When she was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in May 2009, subtitles were used to help the American audience understand her Scottish accent.
  • Cat — Her cat’s name is Pebbles.

Compiled by John Haydon, who once lived in the Scottish town of Dunbar.

Source: Associated Press, Wikipedia, Oprah.com.