The Transformation Of Susan Boyle From 48 To 62 Years Old

Susan Boyle is one of the U.K.'s most talented singers and biggest success stories in recent times. After years of trying to be heard, the Scottish star did not give up and eventually achieved her dreams. Boyle was born on April 1, 1961, at the Bangour Village Hospital in West Lothian, Scotland. As a young child, she was drawn to music and enjoyed singing. At 12 years old, Boyle's teachers recognized her talent at school after she participated in various musical productions.

In 1995, she auditioned for the British TV talent show "My Kind of People," but her attempt was unsuccessful. "I did 'My Kind of People' for fun," she later told The Guardian. "I also sang locally but things had quietened down." However, four years later, her cover of the classic "Cry Me a River" received positive reviews when it was featured on a local charity shop CD. In the early 2000s, she continued to produce several recordings for local performances and benefits, while taking professional singing lessons.

After the death of her mother in 2007, Boyle stopped singing for nearly two years. In late 2008, she decided to audition for another talent show, "Britain's Got Talent," in honor of her mom because she loved the show and had previously been encouraged by her to become a contestant. In April 2009, the then-48-year-old Boyle's audition aired on TV.  It's safe to say the rest was history. Keep reading to find out why.

Susan Boyle became an overnight success

Susan Boyle's audience on "Britain's Got Talent" has gone down in talent show history for many reasons. At age 47, she expressed to the panel and studio audience that she had been wanting to become a professional singer and was hoping the show would help her achieve that goal. Before she even began to sing, some of the panelists and people in the audience were seemingly laughing and doubting Boyle's potential of becoming as popular as Elaine Paige, an iconic singer whose success Boyle had hoped to replicate.

Boyle (pictured above at age 48) performed a powerful rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream," taken from the musical "Les Misérables." As soon as she opened her mouth, she immediately wowed the studio audience and judges, putting everyone in their place. Boyle received a standing ovation and was all anyone wanted to talk about. Panelist Piers Morgan admitted it was the biggest surprise he's ever had while being on the show, while Amanda Holden said it was the biggest "wake-up call ever." The audition quickly caught the attention of many and went viral. As of September 2023, it has been viewed more than 262 million times on YouTube.

Boyle came in second place to dance group Diversity that season, but her subsequent success proved she was still a winner.

She has sold millions of albums worldwide

Soon after being the runner-up on "Britain's Got Talent," Susan Boyle was in demand — and fans were anticipating more from the emerging star. "BGT" judge Simon Cowell quickly signed Boyle to his label, Syco, and helped continue her success. In 2009, she released her debut album, "I Dreamed a Dream." In November of that year, the album debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and became the second best-selling album in the United States that year, with an impressive 3.1 million copies sold. Boyle (pictured above at age 50) was an instant phenomenon and the world had fallen in love with her beautiful voice. The singer has released seven studio albums to date and a compilation to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her professional career. As of this writing, Boyle has sold more than 25 million albums total.

Cowell has worked alongside Boyle throughout her career. In a 2019 interview with UK Music Reviews, Boyle revealed that she has nothing but love for the outspoken entrepreneur, explaining: "Well let me dispel an urban myth right from the start. Despite what you may read in some newspapers, Simon is not nasty at all; he really is a lovely guy. I have now worked with him for the past ten years and I can honestly say that he is a great guy. He really is very nice."

Susan Boyle's success was a long time coming

2009 might have been the start of her successful entertainment career, but Susan Boyle had long been gearing up for her time in the spotlight. Before becoming famous, Boyle had sharpened her singing skills while training with vocal coach Fred O'Neil in her home country of Scotland, according to The Times. And while "Britain's Got Talent" might have shot her to stardom — amid public support from O'Neil, to boot — it was in fact not the first time Boyle was on a reality singing show.

In a 2020 interview, Boyle revealed she had formerly auditioned at another popular reality competition show. "I'd been to 12 auditions for various things before, I'd actually already auditioned for 'X Factor' previously and it was suggested that I should audition for 'Britain's Got Talent,'" Boyle told Northern Life Magazine (via Express). "At the time my mother had just died. I would have loved her to have seen it, but I believe she was there spiritually to see what was going on. She was right beside me. I decided to just 'tough it out.'"

Long before the days of reality TV, however, Boyle had a bit of practice performing at local clubs and events. "I spent a lot of my younger years performing in working men's clubs, which is where I learnt the most. It was like my training ground, and I learnt a lot about people and performing," she explained in an exclusive interview with Revive.

The singer has also boasted an acting career

Growing up, music was not the only thing Susan Boyle had an interest in. According to The Guardian, Boyle attended Edinburgh Acting School, where she seemingly learned the basics of acting. 

After becoming a national superstar, Boyle continued pursuing her passion for acting, eventually landing a role as Eleanor Hopewell in 2013's "The Christmas Candle." Speaking in a statement at the time, the singer shared her excitement about returning to acting — and, in particular, making her movie debut in a 19th-century period piece. "Everyone on the set is a delight to work with and it's a fantastic experience to be part of the team," she said in part (via the Daily Mail), noting how much she'd particularly been "really enjoying ... stepping back in time" and donning costumes for the film. Naturally, Boyle also sang in the holiday flick, crooning out her tune "Miracle Hymn." In 2016, Boyle played a version of herself in a "Zoolander 2" cameo.

Outside of acting, and following her time on "Britain's Got Talent," Boyle appeared in a series of TV documentaries celebrating her journey to stardom, including "I Dreamed a Dream: The Susan Boyle Story" on TV Guide Network in 2009, as well as ITV's "Susan Boyle: An Unlikely Superstar" in 2011 and "There's Something about Susan" two years later.

Susan Boyle's opened up about her love life

During her "Britain's Got Talent" audition, Susan Boyle famously claimed to have never been kissed. However, the singer would later backtrack on this statement. "It was meant as a joke. ... I've got a wicked sense of humor, you know," she clarified to "Extra" (via the New York Daily News) not long after her audition went viral stateside. But while her first kiss might have come before reality TV fame, it wasn't until years later that Boyle had her first boyfriend.

In 2014, Boyle revealed to The Sun (via the Daily Mail) that she was dating a doctor she met while on tour in the U.S. "It's very early days so we'll see what happens. I hope he comes over," she explained of their long-distance romance between the States and Scotland. "I don't want to say any more about who he is right now as that would be unfair on him. All I'll say is we are around the same age and he was a very nice guy." However, the singer's relationship was short-lived. "I did have a gentleman friend, a doctor. We went for lunch but I didn't tell anyone," she told The Scottish Sun in 2019. "... But if I had a man friend it would be purely platonic — I've been on my own too long now to get married."

Despite the absence of a stable romantic relationship, Boyle hopes to foster children someday, confessing on Dan Wootton's podcast (via The Sun), "I've never had any of my own, that's my biggest regret, but I love kids."

The BGT star was misdiagnosed at birth

When Susan Boyle was born in 1961, she was told she had brain damage. In a 2013 interview with The Guardian, she exclusively told the publication that she had, in fact, been misdiagnosed and eventually found out she had Asperger syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism, in 2012. "It was the wrong diagnosis when I was a kid," Boyle explained. "I was told I had brain damage. I always knew it was an unfair label. Now I have a clearer understanding of what's wrong and I feel relieved and a bit more relaxed about myself."

Boyle (pictured above at age 58) found out after seeking help from a Scottish specialist, adding, "Nobody told me to. I thought I had a more serious illness and couldn't function properly." She continued, "I think people will treat me better because they will have a much greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do."

Boyle has never let her diagnosis get in the way of her dreams and has always persevered. In 2019, she returned to TV screens and participated as a contestant in the spin-off show "America's Got Talent: The Champions." While she made it to the finals, Boyle lost out on the title once again, but to her fans (and likely Simon Cowell himself), she will always hold first place in their hearts.

Susan Boyle suffered a stroke in 2022

In June 2023, Susan Boyle made an epic return to the "Britain's Got Talent" stage, when she sang a heartwarming rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" — the same song she performed at her 2009 audition, of course — alongside the West End cast of "Les Misérables." Following the end of the performance, Boyle and the other performers received a loud ovation from the audience and judges alike. 

When asked about her return to the "BGT" stage, Boyle revealed, "It feels great. It is extra special for me actually because last April there, I suffered a minor stroke. And I fought like crazy to get back on stage and I have done it." Responding to her comments, judge Simon Cowell praised Boyle, noting how excited they felt to have her back. "Susan, we owe you so much, and I knew you weren't well, but if anyone was going to come back, you were going to come back, because we wouldn't be the same without you," Cowell said. 

Reflecting on this triumphant moment following her recovery over the previous year, Boyle also touched on the severity of her stroke in an Instagram post, revealing that she lost her speaking and singing skills. "Tonight my hard work & perseverance paid off, singing the song that started it all, 'I Dreamed A Dream,'" she added.