Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Susan Boyle Phenomenon

It is only a week since Boyle, who lives alone with her cat, walked on to the stage of Britain’s Got Talent. She has already won the hearts of audiences across the world with her rendition of I Dreamed A Dream from the musical Les Misérables.

More than 25 million have logged on to YouTube to see the clip of her audition and to find out, as the headline in the San Francisco Chronicle put it: “Just who is the singer Susan Boyle?”

According to The Mail Susan, a devout Catholic, has lived in Blackburn all her life, and is the youngest of nine siblings (five girls and four boys).

"Her mother, Bridget, was a shorthand typist before she had her children; her father, Patrick, worked as a storeman at the British Leyland factory in Bathgate.

The factory closed a few years ago, contributing to a decline in the Bathgate area. As they grew up, Susan's brothers and sisters left the family home one by one.

Most of her siblings stayed in the area, but one brother moved to Australia. Susan alone stayed with her parents. She had suffered mild brain damage after being starved of oxygen at birth.

Recalling her childhood, she said earlier this week: 'I was born with a disability and that made me a target for bullies.

'I was called names because of my fuzzy hair and because I struggled in class. I told the teachers but, because it was more verbal than physical, I could never prove anything.

'But words often hurt more than cuts and bruises and the scars are still there.'

Yet, bullied though she was, there wasn't anyone in Blackburn who could deny that Susan had an amazing voice.

She was a musical child and, at the age of 12, her mother placed her in the choir of her local Catholic church. 'I also sang in musicals at school, lots of them, I can't remember what.' "