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Friday, April 3, 2009

Susan Boyle: “I'm Happy The Way I am: Short and Plump”

Susan Boyle went on stage in Glasgow and the Judges seemed to have already made up their minds that she wasn't going to impress them. But once she opened her mouth and began singing they were completely blown away. Here she talks us through her audition.
In a wide-ranging interview in London's Times Online, Susan Boyle says, "I'm happy the way I am: short and plump," and that while she might consider a "makeover later on," "I would not go in for Botox or anything like that."

The interview states that Boyle is a volunteer at Our Lady of Lourdes church in Whitburn, Scotland, and visits elderly members of the congregation at their homes several times a week. She admits ruefully, however, what with all the sudden media attention -- including a reported invitation this past Thursday to appear on Oprah -- "I haven't had a chance to see them this week."

Boyle's next song selection for Britain's Got Talent this week will reportedly be the Andrew Lloyd Webber composition "Whistle Down The Wind."

“All I want to say is that I am single at the moment, but I keep waiting. I am not on the hunt. I am happy as I am.” She laughs. “It's all very embarrassing. What else can I say? It’s personal.”

She hasn’t had a paid job since she gave up her post as a community worker to look after her ailing mother.

Boyle has given over much of her adult life to being a full-time carer. She comes from a large family — “I had four brothers and five sisters, there are only six of us now” — but she shouldered most of the responsibility for their mother. Her father, Patrick, died more than a decade ago.

Her mother’s death, aged 91, cast a lingering shadow over Boyle’s life. For two years she didn’t sing. Bridget Boyle had always supported her daughter’s talent, encouraging her to take part in singing club competitions across West Lothian. A forest of trophies on top of the upright piano testify to Boyle’s success.

“She was the one who said I should enter Britain’s Got Talent. We used to watch it together,” she says. “She thought I would win.

But after she died I didn’t feel like singing. I wasn’t up to it. Before that I sang in church choirs and I sang karaoke in the local pubs almost every week.

“Then last August I heard about the auditions for Britain’s Got Talent and decided to give it a go. I am doing it as a tribute to my mum and I think she would be very proud.” Boyle was the youngest in her family, born when her mother was 47. It was a difficult birth and Boyle was starved of oxygen for long enough to suffer mild brain damage. At school she was diagnosed with learning difficulties and became a target for bullies. It wasn’t a happy time but Boyle found sanctuary in her closeknit, religious family. “I was a cheeky little girl at home. You had to fight your corner in a family the size of ours.” She also learnt as a child that she could sing.

“I joke that my mum knew I had a good pair of lungs when I used to bawl as a baby,” she says. “But it was really when I was about 12 and I started singing in school productions and in the choir. The teachers said I had a talent but I was too young to know.”

Boyle left school with few qualifications. She got a job in the kitchen of West Lothian College and enroled in several government training schemes. Did she ever dream of a singing career? “Not really. I mean, I always sang but it was just something I did for pleasure,” she says.

“I was needed at home most of the time anyway.”

Occasionally Boyle went to the theatre to hear professional singers. She first heard the song she sang on television at a production of Les Miserables at the Playhouse in Edinburgh. “It took my breath away,” she says. “It was amazing.”

In 1995 Boyle went to Braehead Shopping Centre in Glasgow to audition for My Kind of People, an ITV talent show presented by Michael Barrymore. “I was too nervous,” she says. “I was shaking so much I could hardly sing. I got through it but I never made it onto television. I just wasn’t ready. Now it’s different. I do feel ready.”

She signed up for singing lessons with a local voice coach, Fred O’Neil, to hone her natural talent. In 2000 she sang Cry Me a River for a charity CD to commemorate the Millennium. It is her only previous recording.

Boyle is aware that some of the cynicism that greeted her arrival on stage at the Britain’s Got Talent audition stemmed from her frumpy appearance. She wore a gold lace dress that she’d bought for her nephew’s wedding but left her unruly hair uncombed and her face free of make-up. “I know what they were thinking but why should it matter as long as I can sing? It’s not a beauty contest,” she says.

At the superficial end of the entertainment industry, however, appearance is paramount. Is she afraid she might come under pressure to have a makeover?

“Maybe I’ll consider a makeover later on,” she laughs. “For now I’m happy the way I am — short and plump. I would not go in for Botox or anything like that. I’m content with the way I look. What’s wrong with looking like Susan Boyle? What’s the matter with that?”

Boyle is equally happy with where she lives. City life doesn’t interest her and she doesn’t enjoy travelling.

Given her popularity in the US, could she be tempted by a move to New York or Los Angeles? “Oh no, I am going to stay in Blackburn, West Lothian. This is where I belong. My family is here and they are a great support to me. They are right behind me but they also keep my feet firmly on the ground.”

It is hard to imagine Boyle getting carried away by her success. She can’t really grasp the enormity of her internet fame as she doesn’t have a computer or mobile phone. A friend showed her the YouTube video that has gone global but Boyle is unable to comprehend why 26m people would watch it. She hasn’t had a chance to look at the fan sites that have sprung up in her name.

Much of the coverage in the international press has passed her by, including an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that begins: “Unless you live under a rock you know about the Scottish woman who has taken the industrialised world by storm.”

She will be glad too not to have seen the headline in an Australian newspaper that read: “UK Talent Show Stunned by Scottish Virgin”.

There is speculation that she could be signed up by a Hollywood talent agent. “I’ve been very taken aback especially by all the American people who have been kind enough to say nice things about me,” Boyle says. “I didn’t expect that. People have been very kind.”

Last week as interest in Boyle reached fever pitch, Talkback Thames, the production company that makes Britain’s Got Talent, dispatched a researcher to her home to ensure that she was coping.

The company provides all contestants with the telephone number of a researcher they can contact if they need advice, but the attention Boyle is attracting is unprecedented.

The object of all the attention, however, remains cheerful even though it’s 4pm and she still hasn’t had lunch. She fits in a couple of short telephone interviews, deftly deflecting personal questions with her trademark chuckle and a brisk: “Can we move on now please? I haven’t got much time.”

Boyle has a lot to learn about being a diva. “I’ve got a lot to learn about a lot of things,” she agrees. “This is all very new to me. I went to bed one night just me and woke up in the morning to a group of about 30 children outside chanting my name. Then I came home from my brother’s and it was like the paparazzi were all in the street.”

A quick glance through the sec-urity peep hole of her front door confirms that a group of photographers are camped on the pavement. “Yes, they’re still there. I’ll go and see them in a bit.”

For the moment, Boyle is forbidden from talking about her future in Britain’s Got Talent. She can’t say whether or not her appearance last week might lead to a record deal, if she has plans to make a CD or even when she’s next going to appear on television. “No comment,” she says, laughing. “You’ll just have to watch the show.”

However, given her popularity, it seems impossible that Boyle won’t go on to make money from her singing career. What will she spend it on? “My family,” she says.

Boyle is now the favourite to win the show with odds of 5/2 but she’s not taking anything for granted. “It’s early days. I’m taking baby steps at the moment. I’m just an ordinary person trying to make it as a professional singer. I really don’t want to change all that much.”

1 comment:

  1. Susan I don't like you at all! You're fake!