Art and Entertainment

Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle, 47, Shows “Talent” Isn't Just About Glitz and Glamour

April 14, 2009 04:30 PM
by Liz Colville
The single woman from the village community of West Lothian in Scotland wowed the audience and judges of "Britain's Got Talent"—even Simon Cowell—with her bold rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream" from the musical "Les Miserables."

"Spinster" Dreams of Being a Professional Singer

On the Saturday, April 11 episode of "Britain's Got Talent," the reality competition for performance artists, a 47-year-old woman stunned the judges and audience. Walking timidly on stage in a neutral colored dress and little makeup, Boyle, who says she's never been kissed, was the antithesis of the young, often glossily made-over contestants that usually win such shows.

When she belted out "I Dreamed A Dream" from "Les Miserables," the long-running hit musical, all stereotypes of what a promising singer should look like appeared to go out the window. Like the winner of the first season of the show, opera singer Paul Potts, Boyle is a humble, modest person with a powerful voice inside her.
The rarely complimentary Simon Cowell called the performance "extraordinary" and fellow judge Piers Morgan said it was "without a doubt the biggest surprise I have had in three years of this show," The Daily Mail reported.

Boyle was bullied in her youth for a disability. As she told The Mirror, she had "fuzzy hair" and "struggled in class." Until her audition on "Britain's Got Talent," her ambition to be a professional singer never got past the church choir and karaoke, The Daily Mail writes.

But her late mother, Bridget, loved the show and urged her to audition, telling her she would win. "But I never thought I was good enough. It was only after she died that I plucked up the courage to enter," she told The Mirror.

Boyle is now in talks with Simon Cowell to sign to his label, Syco Records.

Background: “Britain's Got Talent” focuses on talent, not glamour

"Britain's Got Talent" is no stranger to audition surprises, and is known for producing winners and finalists that stand out from the popular music-ready winners of programs like the U.K.'s "The X Factor" and "American Idol."

In the show's first season in 2007, Paul Potts, an employee at the U.K. electronics chain Carphone Warehouse, surprised everyone with his rendition of "Nessun Dorma," from Puccini's "Turandot," made famous by the late tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Potts went on to win the show and sell several million copies of his debut album, "One Chance." Watch the video of Potts' first audition, which has been viewed more than 42 million times on YouTube.

Also in season one, six-year-old Connie Talbot left everyone misty-eyed with her rendition of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," which took her to the semifinals.

In season two, dancer George Sampson, 14, won the show. Watch a video of his final performance at the "Britain's Got Talent" Web site.

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Reference: "Les Miserables" and "I Dreamed A Dream"

"Les Miserables," based on the Victor Hugo novel of 1862, is a record-setting, award-winning musical that has been performed in dozens of countries since its debut at the Barbican Theatre in London in 1985.

Appropriately, "I Dreamed A Dream," sung by the character Fantine, a poor, suffering mother and major character in the novel, hints at the possibility of a better life. Though the song has been sung by numerous actresses in the role of Fantine over the years, Patti LuPone's performance is one of the standouts.

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