Britain’s Got Talent star Susan Boyle reflects on 10 years in the spotlight
With audition number ‘1432’ emblazoned across her bosom and having recovered from a lapse when trying to recall the word ‘villages’ she revealed she was just 47, causing even Simon Cowell to raise an eye-brow and the audience laughter to swell in volume.
The response from the Blackburn lass was a first sighting of the now famous Susan Boyle wiggle and the laughter ramped up further... and then she sang I Dreamed A Dream, from Les Miserables.
The laughter stopped and the cheering and clapping began, ending with one of the most heart-felt standing ovations ever broadcast.
In what has now gone down as one of the most uplifting and spine-tingling five minutes of television ever, history was made.
With a ‘Yes’ from each of the judges, Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell, Susan’s life was changed forever.
Today, Susan Boyle is an international star reportedly worth in the region of £22 million, despite continuing her simple lifestyle.
Here, 10 years on from that fateful audition, the star reflects on a decade of living the dream she had dreamed of all her life.
What are you doing to celebrate the 10 years?
“I’m returning to where it all began. The Britain’s Got Talent stage, performing the song that started it all.
“You’ll have to watch Britain’s Got Talent this Saturday, 13 April.
“It was wonderful. Like going home to be with the family. It was great to see my boss Simon, Ant and Dec and of course Amanda.
“It was a really great experience and of course there was not the pressure of 2009.”
What was that first audition like for you?
“When I look back, I blush, I was very green about things then.
“The actual day I will never forget. Well, it took me forever to get there and a number of buses along the way.
“I turned up, looking like I had got dressed in the dark.
“Everyone was laughing at me, they thought who was this daft woman with crazy hair and bad choice in clothes, no one had any expectation, they thought I was a joke... and then I started to sing.”
What did it feel like when you finished the song?
“It was unbelievable. In just a few minutes everyone went from sniggering to applauding and giving me a standing ovation.
“I felt a huge sense of achievement and pride, although I didn’t tell a soul I’d auditioned, they all found out when it aired on the telly.
“I thought of my parents, and how proud my mother would be and I cried with joy.”
The audition that went viral overnight, what was that like for you?
“It completely blew my mind.
“Suddenly within a couple of days the clip had spread like wildfire around the globe and I had all the press on my doorstep and, you know what, it was all thanks to Ashton Kutcher.
“He was the one that tweeted about my audition and everyone followed him and sent it on. I’ve got Ashton to thank for making me famous overnight and also the power of social media and YouTube.”
Why did you wan to participate in Britain’s Got Talent?
“In 2009 I made the decision to appear on Britain’s Got Talent in honour of my mother who had died.
“She always asked me to make something of myself and use my singing voice.
“Also I had a wee crush on a man called Piers Morgan who was a judge on the show.”
What was one of the most difficult experiences you faced at that time?
“Overnight fame, and it really was so instantaneous it brought with it difficulties.
“Suddenly everything you do is watched and picked apart, it felt quite suffocating, almost as though I was an act in a freak show and that hurt.
“It was incredibly difficult to come to terms with.”
Do you miss having anonymity?
“Sometimes, but then I give my self a little talking to and thank my lucky stars that I’m in the position where I have fans and people who want to talk to me.
“I’m lucky and people who recognise me, well that’s part of the job.
“There are always going to be times when you’re not looking your best or in certain places where you’d rather be left alone, but I’m grateful that they do come and say hi, after all, my success and longevity is because of my fans.”
What’s your fondest memory from the last 10 years?
“There are so many and each and every one holds such a special meaning to me.
“Donny Osmond - recording with a childhood crush and performing with him in Vegas, that was brilliant.
“Coming to LA for the first time in 2009 and performing on AGT; just getting through the airport was unbelievable, there were so many photographers and press, it was quite something.
“Travelling across the US on a tour bus... meeting icons like Whoopi Goldberg.
“There’s just so so many. I’ve had the best decade of my life.”
When people recognise you, how do you react?
“I love meeting my fans. It’s one of the perks of the job. They truly are the best.
“Back in 2009 I said that all my life I had been an outsider looking in and now I get to be a part of it, and that stands true today.
“I don’t need to say I’m lonely anymore and I can’t say I’m unloved anymore, as I’m not.”
What has kept you grounded?
“My friends keep me grounded. I don’t ever want to become a diva and I think having a good group of people around you ensures you don’t.
“I still live in the same house I grew up in, I don’t need a huge mansion, and I still like to take the bus or walk to the supermarket and choose what I’m having for my dinner.
“It’s about not believing the hype. I’m still me, the wee woman who stepped on the BGT audition stage 10 years ago.”
Who are your dream duet partners, if you were to record a dream duet with anybody?
“Elton John or Rod Stewart would be two people I’d love to perform with, I’ve met Rod a few times at our local football club Celtic (we’re both huge fans) and he’s great. We have such a giggle.
“Lady Gaga, I would love to perform with her too, she is truly an inspiring woman and she deserves all of her success, she’s also a terrific actress.”
There are reports that you are going to take part in BGT Champions?
“I read that as well but, of course, it’s manners to wait and be asked.
“If they did ask me I would definitely consider it, who doesn’t love a competition?
“I’ve got a competitive spirit and had great fun at AGT Champions which we filmed last year and you never know, third times a charm, I might actually win a competition.”
You are releasing a new album, Ten, on Friday, 31 May. What’s the inspiration for it?
“The album is very much a celebration of the last 10 years of my career, a look back with an additional four never heard before tracks, which I purposely wanted to keep as a surprise for fans.
“There are very few surprises in life anymore, so keeping these a surprise was important.
“I surprised the world 10 years ago when I auditioned for BGT, so lets surprise them again. It’s a great album and the new tracks I adore.
“Keeping them a secret is harder than you’d think.
“I didn’t just want to put out a “greatest hits” type album - it was a very nostalgic process choosing the songs, each one holds dear memories and I can remember where I was when I first performed each one.
“Wild Horses, that was the very first song I performed in America in 2009 on America’s Got Talent.
“It was the first long haul trip I had ever taken and we stayed at the Hotel Bel Air with humming birds that buzzed around us as we ate breakfast by the pool... and going to Disneyland for the first time.
“I felt like I’d stepped onto a movie set it was so far removed from my everyday life.
“Perfect Day, that song we did a music video for in Scotland and it was torrential rain all day, I was soaked through.
“I also had a body double, not that I did any high octane stunts.
“Each track, combined with being a fan favourite, also resonated with me and has wonderful memories.”
“It’s always wonderful to return to the studio. I’ve said for 10 years that it’s my bubble, a safe place and it’s still the same. It’s just you and the music.”
Do you understand what you have achieved over the past 10 years?
“Well, I’ve already achieved quite a lot, performing is all that matters to me and being able to make people happy with my music.
“My publicist has helped me out with these facts, so in the past 10 years I’ve been incredibly lucky to sell over 23 million albums, over 227 million album streams, over 120 platinum and gold albums in 38 countries.
“I’ve had two Grammy nominations and I’ve performed with childhood idols and met some wonderful people along the way.
“To be honest, these figures have surprised me but I have achieved a lot so far and I hope to carry on for many years to come.”
Are you aware that you are a star?
“Oh I don’t think I’m a star, I’m just me. Susan Boyle.”
Britain’s Got Talent, ITV, Saturday 13 April, 8pm
New album Ten is released on Friday, 31 May