Late Bloomer Susan Boyle: Dreams Are Just Deferred

Late Bloomer Susan Boyle: Dreams Are Just Deferred

posted in: Artists | 9

In April 2009, Susan Boyle sang her heart out on Britain’s Got Talent and captured the world’s. She placed second, but you’d never know. Look at some of her accomplishments:

  • November 2009—Susan released her first album, I Dreamed A Dream. Within six weeks it became the year’s biggest seller. Guinness Book declared her the oldest person in the UK to reach No. 1 with a debut.
  • May 2010—Time named her the seventh most influential person in the world, fourteen places above President Obama.
  • September 2010—Susan, a devout Catholic, performed for Pope Benedict on his British tour.
  • November 2010—Her new album, The Gift, made her the third act to top both UK and US charts twice in one year. (The others were The Beatles and The Monkees.)

She was born in Blackburn, Scotland on April 1st, 1961, the youngest of nine children. A hard birth briefly deprived her brain of oxygen, and she ended up with learning difficulties. The other children bullied her, calling her “Susie Simple.”

Although she reported the cruelty to her teachers, they didn’t act because it was “mostly verbal.” But Susan acknowledges, “Words often hurt more than cuts and bruises and the scars are still there.”

A Refuge And Passion

Music became her refuge. But her small industrial town gave her few chances to advance her talent. When she was 12, she joined her church choir. After leaving school, she sang karaoke and performed at a hotel in her Scottish village.

Contrary to the hype, Susan didn’t come out of nowhere. She worked that dream. She took voice lessons for six years, practicing scales like anyone else. In 1999, she cashed in her savings to make a demo tape. She sent it to talent shows, record companies, local and national TV.

Susan tried out for My Kind of People, a British talent show, but the host just used her for comic relief (bet he regrets that). It didn’t stop her. She continued auditioning and became a serial talent show failure.

A Dream Deferred

Susan was about to give up when her mother convinced her to go for Britain’s Got Talent. Then her mother became ill. Like many Later Bloomers, Susan put her dream on hold to care for family. She nursed her mother until her death in 2007.

Because of the learning difficulties, Susan lived under her parents’ roof her entire life. Her mother’s death left her alone and depressed. Her old voice coach finally convinced her to audition for Britain’s Got Talent in her mother’s memory.

But Susan’s siblings discouraged her. One sister said, “You’re not going to Glasgow by yourself.” (Why didn’t one of them offer to drive her?) Susan ignored her, caught six buses and showed up. That famous audition marked the first time since her mother died that Susan sang in public. She was singing to the one person she knew believed in her:

I did the audition for [my mother] because she always wanted me to make something of my life, but I had to wait a bit because her death prevented me from singing for a while. I couldn’t put my heart into it.

Susan reminds us that dreams are never lost. They’re only deferred, and one person’s support can mean everything.


9 Responses

  1. Elaine Summers
    | Reply

    Happy Birthday, to the unique lady with the magical voice, our Susan Boyle <3 XOX …From all her fans!

  2. diana
    | Reply

    She deserves every good thing that comes her way. Every little thing.

  3. She really is an inspiration ~
    And I actually think the later video embedded is more ‘real’ than her first stepping out into the limelight as it reflects upon the trials she experienced after the initial hype, yet managed to overcome, perform amazingly (under incredible stress and pressure) and come out the star she really is –
    Such a brilliant ambassador to everyone to dream *your* dream 🙂

    • Elle B.

      Hi, Linda, thanks for stopping by! It’s curious that YouTube no longer allows the original one to be embedded. I’m guessing it’s by request of someone behind the scenes. She apparently had a mini-breakdown right after this video was recorded, and no wonder! What an adjustment. But she’s come back and truly come into her own.

  4. Dave Doolin
    | Reply

    I knew when I first heard her she had to have been laboring in obscurity for *decades* to achieve such mastery. As a student of mastery, her story is incredibly inspiring.

    • Elle B.

      Hey Dave! Great to hear from you again. Yeah, I was incredibly pleased to find those articles about her voice coach. Like you, I find her even more inspiring for practicing her art through the ups and downs, then taking the ultimate risk.

    • Yehudit Steinberg

      Hi Dave and Eve,
      Great blog post. Susan has been an inspiration since I first heard her audition. To learn that she was working hard on her goal before she made it is encouraging to hear. Eve, I love your blog because you let us later bloomers know it is ok and that we are not alone.

    • Debra Eve

      Thanks so much, Yehudit! It’s still not like she started voice lessons at 16, as so many young divas do. But she worked hard all through her 30s and 40s when life itself wasn’t easy. That’s what so admirable.

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