Susan Boyle, who was born on April 1, 1961, was briefly deprived of oxygen during the difficult birth and was later diagnosed as having learning difficulties. Due to the disability, she was bullied and nicknamed "Susie Simple" at school. After graduating from school with few qualifications, she was employed as a trainee cook in the kitchen of West Lothian College for six months and took part in government training programs.
Susan got singing lessons from voice coach Fred O'Neil. Prior to participating "Britain's Got Talent" (BGT), she sang in church and karaoke at pubs in her village. She also participated in her parish church's pilgrimages to the Knock Shrine, County Mayo, Ireland.
Repeatedly urged by her mother to audition for BGT but ignoring the suggestions, she finally stepped out and took the risk of singing in front of an audience larger than her parish church during the show's audition in August 2008. In the first round of the show, she delivered a rendition of Les Miserables' "I Dreamed a Dream".
Ever since her video performance hit the web, it had been watched by more than 10 millions viewers. Along with her rise to fame, she became aware that the BGT audience was initially hostile to her because of her appearance, but she has refused to change her image.
In addition to the image issue, Susan who was not used to media attention also suffered from emotional breakdown. She was admitted to The Priory in Southgate, North London in June 2009, one day after she was announced as a runner-up on the show's finale. Rumor had it at that time, she either suffered from exhaustion or she couldn't handle her loss in the singing competition or it was related to her newly-found fame.
Susan released her debut album "I Dreamed a Dream" on November 23 worldwide. The studio project sold more than 410,000 copies across U.K. in its first week, making it the fastest-selling album and becoming the largest first-week sales for a debut album in U.K. chart history. Her reign extended to U.S. as the album opened with more than 701,000 copies, becoming the best-opening week for any album in Billboard Hot 200 and beating Eminem's fastest-selling record with "Relapse" which sold around 608,000 units in May.
Also, it earned the best sale frame on the U.S. chart since AC/DC's "Black Ice" debuted with 784,000 in October 2008. Moreover, Susan was named female solo artist with the highest sale debut, topping over the previous record which was held by Ashanti with her 2002 first self-titled effort "Ashanti" which pulled in around 503,000 copies.
Susan held the top position on the U.S. albums chart as the album pulled in additional 527,000 copies in its second week. The impressive number gave the album the highest second week sales of the year.