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Plucked from obscurity when she stunned the judges on the UK TV show Britain's Got Talent, Susan Boyle has gone on to great singing success.
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Born April 1, 1961, in Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland, to Irish immigrants, Susan Boyle's singing career was launched overnight when she performed on Britain's Got Talent and showcased her incredible voice.
Susan Boyle was born on April 1, 1961, in Blackburn, West Lothian, Scotland, to Irish immigrants. Susan's father, Patrick Boyle, was a miner and WWII veteran. Her mother, Bridget, was a shorthand typist. Susan, the youngest of eight surviving children, was deprived of oxygen at birth long enough to cause mild brain damage. The physical trauma created learning disabilities for the young girl. But Boyle grew up in a musical family -- her father sang, and her mother sang and played the piano -- and she found comfort in music at an early age.
An industrial town of fewer than 5,000 people, Blackburn was hardly a place to nurture the young Susan's musical interests. School wasn't a refuge for Boyle either; at school she was diagnosed with learning difficulties, and she became a target for bullies. She was often mocked, and her peers called her "Simple Susie." Yet Boyle persisted with music, and began performing in school productions at the age of 12. Her teachers, recognizing her talent, encouraged her to continue performing at school, but she graduated with few academic qualifications.
Boyle landed a job in the kitchen of West Lothian College, and enrolled in several government-training programs. Boyle continued singing for pleasure, and occasionally went to the theatre to hear professional singers. It was during one of these performances that she first heard the song "I Dreamed a Dream" performed in a production of Les Miserables. "It took my breath away," she says. "It was amazing."
In 1995, Boyle went to Glasgow to audition for My Kind of People, a televised talent show popular in the United Kingdom. Boyle was nervous during the audition, and felt she didn't do her performance justice, but her brother theorizes that she was rejected because of her unconventional looks. She was summarily rejected from the show, but Boyle remained undeterred. She continued to sing at church, and at the local karaoke nights in her regular local pub at the Happy Valley Hotel.
Boyle suffered a personal loss in 1997, when her father passed away. After his death, Boyle put her big dreams on hold to care for her ailing mother. As the youngest -- and the only child in the family with no spouse or children -- the burden of care fell on her shoulders. The mother and daughter, who were very close, often talked of Susan's possible fame. Bridget Boyle supported her daughter's talent, and encouraged her to take part in singing competitions. "She was the one who said I should enter Britain's Got Talent. We used to watch it together," Susan later told reporters. "She thought I would win."
Encouraged by her mother, Boyle used all of her savings in 1999 to pay for a professionally cut demo tape, which she sent to record companies, radio talent competitions, local and national TV. She continued to dream of a day when the world would recognize her talent.
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