LONDON – Britain's unlikely singing sensation Susan Boyle, the frumpy church volunteer who wowed the world with her angelic voice, was on Saturday voted into the next round of a TV talent show that propelled her to global fame.
The 47-year-old, who lives alone with her cat, Pebbles, in one of Scotland's poorest regions, will now perform in a live show on Sunday, weeks after her surprising performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" from the musical "Les Miserables" shocked judges and charmed tens of millions of people worldwide.
Boyle's performance last month on the "American Idol"-style show "Britain's Got Talent" has been viewed almost 60 million times on You Tube, and saw the shy Scot feted by celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Demi Moore.
The awkward-looking Boyle, who says she's never been kissed, was greeted with giggles from a skeptical audience and eye rolls from the show's famously sardonic judge Simon Cowell when she appeared in April — but startled viewers with her soaring voice.
In an update on her Twitter Web site, Moore wrote that Boyle's voice had "made me teary!"
Cowell and his fellow judges said Saturday that Boyle is among 40 performers they've selected to advance in the competition.
Bookmaker William Hill makes Boyle a runaway favorite to win the final on May 30.
"She had a tremendous reaction because of the phenomenon that is YouTube — it's now all over the world and she's coping rather well," said the singer's brother, Gerry Boyle. "But I think some of the reality is now starting to sink in."
The youngest of nine children, Boyle grew up in Blackburn, a community of 4,750 people 20 miles west of Edinburgh, in Scotland — a district blighted by unemployment and crime. Boyle had learning difficulties as a child and was bullied by other children.
As an adult, she's struggled for work but had been a regular on her local karaoke circuit and performed in church choirs.
In an interview with The Associated Press at her home last month, she said the death of her mother had inspired her to enter the TV talent show. "I wanted to show her I could do something with my life," Boyle said.
Since then, she's appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and had a makeover, to tame her frizzy gray-tinged hair.
"I think she is coping very well at the moment, she is just Susan. Just as calm as you like. Just carrying on as normal," said Jackie Russell, manager of Boyle's local pub The Happy Valley Hotel, in Blackburn.
Sara Lee, a spokeswoman for "Britain's Got Talent" said that Boyle's performance on Sunday will be available almost instantly on Internet, allowing her international fans a chance to watch the singer's latest appearance.
But she refused to say what song Boyle will perform in the broadcast, which will be screened live in Britain.