Britain's Got Talent legend Susan Boyle on 10 years since THAT first audition and topping the bill at Proms in the Park Northern Ireland…
In 2009, Susan Boyle, a quiet 48-year-old churchgoer from a small town in West Lothian, Scotland, won over the nation with her soaring rendition of I Dreamed a Dream from the musical Les Miserables on Britain’s Got Talent. Susan’s stunning audition went viral and, overnight a superstar was born.
Since finishing as runner-up on BGT to dance troupe Diversity, Susan’s career has rocketed. She’s sold over 20 million records, topped the album charts here and in the US, and continues to perform sell-out shows around the world.
Now, Susan has just headlined this year’s BBC Proms in the Park at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast. Accompanied by the Ulster Orchestra, Susan sang in front of a crowd of 10,00 people, with the even being shown on BBC4 this Sunday.
Ahead of her performance, Susan Boyle, 58, reveals all about her epic decade and thinks back to the audition that changed her life…
How are you feeling about headlining Proms in the Park in Belfast?
Susan Boyle: “I’m very excited to be performing at Proms in the Park. It’s my first time performing in Northern Ireland and to be a part of such a wonderful production is very exciting. I’ll be singing the song that started my career 10 years ago. I couldn’t miss that off the list!”
What do you enjoy most about performing live? Do you have any pre-show rituals?
SB: “I love performing live, especially with an orchestra, and there’s something very magical about performing alongside an orchestra and outdoors. I don’t really have any pre-show rituals – it’s just myself and my team, I have my hair and make-up done, do a vocal warm-up, have a good giggle and then I’m ready to go on stage.”
Do you still get nervous, particularly doing a big show like Proms in the Park?
SB: “I’ve learned over the past decade to channel the nerves I have into using them positively. Every artist gets nervous before a performance. You want to go out and do your very best for the audience who are watching, so nerves are a good thing. It means you care and it means you’ll put on the best show you can.”
You released your latest album, TEN, back in May. Can you believe it’s been 10 years since you appeared on BGT?
SB: “I still have to pinch myself that I’m still going. Ten years has gone by in a flash!”
Are you still amazed by the impact you made with your very first audition?
SB: “It completely blew my mind. I never thought I’d get a reaction like that – but then nor did anyone else! I didn’t have access to the internet and I had no idea about YouTube. Social media was in its infancy and 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 it was all thanks to actor Ashton Kutcher. He was the one who Tweeted about my audition and everyone followed him and sent it on. I’ve basically got him to thank for making me famous overnight!”
Could you have imagined back then that you’d go on to sell 20 million records and perform sell-out shows?
SB: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have had the career I’ve had. I went to the audition hoping something good would come of it but I didn’t have a master plan or any long-term goals. I just went on a wing and a prayer and hoped the judges would like my performance.”
Earlier this year, you performed on America’s Got Talent: The Champions. What was that like?
SB: “It was absolutely brilliant. I wanted to take part because I’m quite competitive and also because it was the first show of it’s kind to bring everyone back. So I thought: ‘Why not?’ It was like being back with family, and being back in America was wonderful. I count myself lucky that I’ve got so many fans around the world and that America has been so supportive to me.”
What was it like seeing show judge Simon Cowell again?
SB: “Simon’s been an incredible boss over the past 10 years and has been my biggest supporter during my career, so it was lovely to see him in LA, doing what he does best. After my performance, he came up on stage and we had a lovely little chat. He’s a wonderful man, incredibly loyal and I’m very fortunate to have someone like him in my corner.”
What’s been the highlight of the past 10 years for you?
SB: “There are so many fond memories from the past 10 years and each and every one holds such a special meaning for me. Recording with my childhood crush Donny Osmond and performing with him in Las Vegas was brilliant! Also, coming to LA for the first time in 2009 and performing on America’s Got Talent – just getting through the airport, there were so many photographers and reporters there, it was quite something!”
Who have you hoped to inspire with your story and your music?
SB: “I hope I’ve inspired people who want to change their lives. I think I’m living proof that no matter what your age or what life throws at you, if you set your heart on something you can make a positive change to your life. Back in 2009, I said that all my life I’d been an outsider looking in and now I get to be a part of something. That stands true today.”
Would you say you’re ‘living the dream’? What else do you hope to achieve?
SB: “I’m most definitely living my dream. There’s still so much I hope to achieve both in my career and also personally. I’ve created a bucket list and I’m ticking things off along the way. I just want to keep going for as long as possible, entertain people with my music and keep having fun. I’ve had the best decade of my life!”
The Last Night of the Proms from Around the UK is on Sunday September 22 at 7pm on BBC4