It was an audition that changed the entertainment industry forever — and made a humble Scottish single woman a multi-millionaire megastar.
But when Susan Boyle bumbled on the "Britain’s Got Talent" stage in Glasgow to sing "I Dreamed A Dream" for an initially skeptical Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan ten years ago, no one could have predicted what was about to transpire, The Sun reports.
The SuBo phenomenon, which seemed to be the ultimate showbusiness fairytale, soon became a nightmare as the woman at the center of it was not equipped for becoming one of the most famous people on the planet.
A decade on, however, Susan’s time has come again, as she prepares to release a major new album to mark her ten years in the business.
And this time, after five years away, she finally feels prepared for the spotlight.
In a world exclusive comeback interview, she reveals: “I’m managing things a lot better now. It was a slow process. Everything is with me.
“But I’m coping inside a lot better now and I’m ready — more than ready — for what’s coming.”
I’ve covered Susan’s journey since day one, seeing up close the devastation she felt losing to Diversity in that shocking result in 2009 and witnessing the hysteria as she became an unlikely international superstar.
While there were serious lows as various understandable meltdowns forced Susan to reduce her workload, it has been inspiring to see the way the 57-year-old has opened up about her mental illness, including a diagnosis of Asperger’s in 2013.
Susan says: “It can be difficult to talk about mental health issues, as there is a kind of fear about that.
“Years ago there used to be a stigma about it but now there is more knowledge, more expertise, and talking about things makes it a lot easier. A lot easier.”
Through “a lot of support and the love of the community,” Susan has, in effect, learned how to be famous while still living the humble life in Blackburn, West Lothian, she had before that BGT audition.
She explains: “I can cope with the pressure now. I know how to control myself better.
“I don’t get so worked up about things. I got a lot of help and I’m managing a lot more effectively.”
The beauty of SuBo, the reason she connected with so many millions, is her total normality and lack of desire to change.
She bristles when I call her a multi-millionaire — she’s reported to be worth over $36 million — but it’s a concept she can’t even begin to get her head around.
“I just want to entertain people, I want to make them happy. Money doesn’t bother me,” she insists.
“My life has changed in that I’ve got a lot of people around me, I’ve got a nicer house and stuff like that but those are material things. I think emotionally I’ve grown up with it.”
What’s been her most expensive purchase? She giggles and says: “I did buy Chanel No5 a few days ago, I thought I’d be posh, you know.”
Even though she bought a $540,000 five-bed detached property in her home town, she is actually still living in the council house where she was brought up.
“I’m still in my parents’ house, my niece has got the plush house. I quite like it that way, it’s good,” she says, matter-of-factly.
“It’s good to be in your mom’s house as well, there’s a lot of nice memories in my mom’s. I sort of feel she’s present here, somehow.”
One obvious regret is that her parents never got to see her success. Mom Bridget, who she cared for during the later stages of her life, died aged 91, two years before her daughter’s audition. Dad Patrick, a World War Two veteran, passed away in 1997, aged 81.
She says: “My mother would be proud of me, you know, and my dad especially. My dad was trying to be a professional singer at one time but it didn’t work out.
“My parents said, ‘Wait until the time comes and you’ll know if you’re ready, you’ll know if you can cope with it or not.’ The time came along in 2009.”
Being part of the community remains very important to SuBo — she uses public transport and shops in the local Tesco. She says: “I still catch a bus, I still talk to my neighbors and friends. Why not? That’s part of who I am.
“My whole community hasn’t changed much but I have this sort of dual personality now. I’m a performer and an ordinary person, which is nice.”
As for romance, Susan doesn’t feel she needs it.
When I ask if she’s dating, she says with her sardonic sense of humor: “At the moment, single — but it’s not an advert.”
Pebbles, her beloved cat, died in 2016 but has been replaced by the equally loved Tessie.
She is at pains to point out that being single does not equate to being alone: “I am happy, I’ve got people with me all the time. I’ve got a cat, I’m never lonely.”
When she shot to fame, Susan was initially blissfully unaware of the global phenomenon she had become, largely down to the then fast-growing video-sharing platform YouTube. She recalls: “I knew very little of what was going on, because I never had a computer.
“And YouTube, I’ll jokingly say this: The only thing I knew that’s a tube was a tube of Smarties! So I had to go and buy a computer and find out what was going on.”
But the pressure became too much when Susan left her home to compete in the "BGT" live final.
“When I went down to London it became overwhelming. That’s just an understatement,” she says.
“You’re sitting one day on your couch not knowing what you’re doing with your life and suddenly you go into a competition.”
Simon Cowell recently admitted to me that he has never forgotten the horror of SuBo losing to dance troupe Diversity, which resulted in her entering the Priory rehab center.
Fearful for her state of mind, he told me how he rushed up on stage while the show was still being broadcast live to assure her she would still get a record deal with his company. I ask Susan if she recalls that conversation. “I do remember him doing that, yeah. I felt comforted,” she says, making it clear the moment is still painful.
“All eyes were upon me and they did tell me I was favored to win but it’s a competition, anything goes and the best people won.
“Simon is a very nice man, a fair man, and he’s given me a lot of opportunities. I have a lot to thank him for.
“Diversity was the act, a good bunch of people to work with, they deserved to win, they worked hard. Coming second isn’t always a bad thing. The pressure came off me.”
Susan isn’t exposed to the worst of the internet these days because she completely avoids social media.
She says: “You can have too much of a good thing and it can maybe encourage other people to say things they wouldn’t normally say.”
As a result, her state of mind has “never been better,” especially when she is on stage.
She explains: “I’m always a positive thinker and that’s probably the way to go on. I get nervous before a performance, I mean everybody does, but you don’t telegraph that to your audience, you embrace it.”
Susan has already made her biggest return to the spotlight, competing in an all-star edition of "America’s Got Talent" last month, in front of Simon.
She says it “brought back a lot of good memories, I just felt back home again.”
There is one man connected to her original audition that still makes her go weak at the knees … a certain Piers Morgan, one of the three judges who helped discover her.
She giggles and says: “Oh Piersy, Piersy baby. He’s been very good to me, I’ve always wanted to meet up with him and say thank you.
“He really was good, and what a sense of humor he had.”
Susan’s sense of humor hasn’t gone either, although her trademark wiggle isn’t seen as much anymore, sadly.
“That wiggle, well I could do it now but I’ll tell you something, at a certain age it’s best I didn’t try.”