Susan Boyle

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At a Glance

Birthname: Susan Magdalane Boyle
Nationality: Scottish
Born: Apr 01 1961


Biography

With a synchronicity you’d have difficulty making up, Susan Boyle’s global record sales hit a monumental 14million on the fourteenth month after her recording career started. With number one albums on five continents, in over 20 countries, her two albums have shifted the Susan story far away from a performance on a British Talent Show. For the devoted listeners to her rangy readings of modern classics, both secular and sacred, timeless love songs and unusually radicalised twists on pop and rock curiosities, this humble woman from a sleepy and largely forgotten Scottish hamlet has become ... Read more

With a synchronicity you’d have difficulty making up, Susan Boyle’s global record sales hit a monumental 14million on the fourteenth month after her recording career started. With number one albums on five continents, in over 20 countries, her two albums have shifted the Susan story far away from a performance on a British Talent Show. For the devoted listeners to her rangy readings of modern classics, both secular and sacred, timeless love songs and unusually radicalised twists on pop and rock curiosities, this humble woman from a sleepy and largely forgotten Scottish hamlet has become simply one of the premier recording voices of her age.

Susan’s recording career ushered in a figurative change for herself and ergo, for pop at large. ‘I didn’t quite know what was happening myself,’ she says now, at home in Scotland readying herself for the global launch of the third album, ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’. She is not one to keep a close eye on statistics. She didn’t have to. She has stared the effect of her music square in the face. ‘I could see it wherever I travelled around the world. My music was touching a lot of people. People actually wanted to hear what I had sung. I still find that... astonishing.’

Susan Boyle crossed over into a world where seeing her share shelf space with Rihanna, Michael Buble, Gaga and Take That no longer looked like an anomaly. It made a peculiar sort of sense. In the democratic landscape of the New Pop, where characterful singers were just characterful singers, regardless of how much they might look like they had been beamed in from a parallel universe and regardless of genre itself, the idea of Susan Boyle capitalising a substantial corner of the record-buying market for herself and defying the rapid downturn in the industry as a whole was her own edifying achievement. It was no longer buoyed by the ‘reality’ dream she once dreamt. It was now real.

Is it time to start thinking of Susan Boyle as an important scion of our times? A return to music invested with something wholesome, meaningful and in her own way rather daring? Susan did not rely on old marketing ruses, of disrobing and selling her looks before her talent. She simply went into the studio and gave it everything she had.

‘When we started the third record,’ she explains, ‘I was still incredibly nervous. I do worry that I won’t be able to do what I’ve done before or to take it further. But after a week in the studio it began to feel like a second home.’ Once again coupled with super-producer Steve Mac, she had decided that after the sacred and seasonal nature of her second album ‘The Gift’ made her the first artist in history to have her first two records debut at number one on both sides of the Atlantic, she would start responding to the fan mail she had received. ‘There are certain songs that I love personally and they seemed to fit with the kind of stories people had written to me about. That was what this new record was going to be about.’

For some reason, possibly an unflinching honesty that had marked her career from the beginning, possibly the fact that she didn’t fit into the usual marketing model for 21st century female singers, Susan’s fans had begun sharing their innermost stories with her. ‘Really troublesome stuff sometimes,’ she notes. Failed marriages, grief, happy times and sad times, lots of ups and plenty of downs. This was Susan’s mailbag, still mostly delivered the old-fashioned way, with ink and a postage stamp. ‘It touched me really deeply,’ she explains.

Whenever worries about recording a radical new set of songs and turning her career up into fourth gear in the studio hit, it was this intimacy between artist and fan that kept her determined to find the emotional core of the music. ‘You have to mean everything you sing,’ she explains, ‘that was something I’d learned very early on in the studio.’

The first song she nailed was a stripped back and rewired reading of Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy The Silence’. ‘The melody of the song is just beautiful,’ she explains, ‘but really that lyric sounds like it will touch so many people in the way it touched me.’ Susan took the song somewhere entirely new. Hearing somebody who has spent a life at the blunt end of other’s often cruel words sing the line ‘Words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm’ against a string-soaked backdrop lends the composition a distinct new power. With Someone To Look Over Me, one gets the sense she has graduated. These are the touches that make her special.

Other contemporary songs were attacked with similar gusto. A new, stunningly straight interpretation of Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World’ suggested a future in Susan rearranging New Romantic classics was not out of the question. ‘I can’t think of a better song for me to sing,’ she says, recalling the first time she heard it as a young woman in the ‘80s. ‘Just stunning. We wanted to experiment. To get away from just singing standards and ballads. You never know, a younger audience might like it, too. What I have found from my post is that people from 20 to 80 write to me. It isn’t one age group.’

With the heavyweight success Susan has enjoyed over the last two years, doors began opening. Not that she is one to brag about her achievements but Benny and Bjorn from Abba endorsed her singing a special English translation of the stunning, show-stopping curtain raiser ‘You Have To Be There’ from a Swedish musical they scripted. ‘These are very challenging lyrics says Susan, ‘It almost turns the religious feel of the last album around completely. It gets me away from safe territory. It stretches my imagination. I find music in many ways an easier way to communicate than just talking to people.’

Other highlights of ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ include a radically re-arranged rendition of ‘Unchained Melody’, which does to the song as Eva Cassidy did to ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. Somehow a song you have heard countless times before, that is embedded in popular culture is lent a new flavour. ‘Oh, Eva was in an emotional class of her own,’ suggests Susan, ‘as soon as you close your eyes and listen to her you are with her. Comparing me to somebody like that is extremely humbling.’ There is a reading of the Joni Mitchell classic ‘Both Sides Now’, settling Susan into folkier territory, and of course the undeniable emotional pull of the title track.

‘I started to become less intimidated by the studio environment on this record,’ she says, ‘it felt settled.’ Equally, visits to her emergent territories have begun feeling warmer and more comfortable for the artist. ‘I went to Italy just for a holiday, something I would’ve never done before this. I had a trip to New York in August and then LA in early September. America is like my second home now.’ A trip to China as special guest star on China’s Got Talent, was a particular highlight of her global year. ‘It was awesome. Such friendly people. I played to 60,000 in a stadium and then my manager told me half a billion had watched the performance on TV. He didn’t tell me until afterwards, though. Good job!’

So the Susan Boyle story continues, escalating into territory unchartered for not just singers of her ilk but Western singers, full stop. Hers has been a phenomenal tale. The dream shows no sign of ending.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

With a synchronicity you’d have difficulty making up, Susan Boyle’s global record sales hit a monumental 14million on the fourteenth month after her recording career started. With number one albums on five continents, in over 20 countries, her two albums have shifted the Susan story far away from a performance on a British Talent Show. For the devoted listeners to her rangy readings of modern classics, both secular and sacred, timeless love songs and unusually radicalised twists on pop and rock curiosities, this humble woman from a sleepy and largely forgotten Scottish hamlet has become simply one of the premier recording voices of her age.

Susan’s recording career ushered in a figurative change for herself and ergo, for pop at large. ‘I didn’t quite know what was happening myself,’ she says now, at home in Scotland readying herself for the global launch of the third album, ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’. She is not one to keep a close eye on statistics. She didn’t have to. She has stared the effect of her music square in the face. ‘I could see it wherever I travelled around the world. My music was touching a lot of people. People actually wanted to hear what I had sung. I still find that... astonishing.’

Susan Boyle crossed over into a world where seeing her share shelf space with Rihanna, Michael Buble, Gaga and Take That no longer looked like an anomaly. It made a peculiar sort of sense. In the democratic landscape of the New Pop, where characterful singers were just characterful singers, regardless of how much they might look like they had been beamed in from a parallel universe and regardless of genre itself, the idea of Susan Boyle capitalising a substantial corner of the record-buying market for herself and defying the rapid downturn in the industry as a whole was her own edifying achievement. It was no longer buoyed by the ‘reality’ dream she once dreamt. It was now real.

Is it time to start thinking of Susan Boyle as an important scion of our times? A return to music invested with something wholesome, meaningful and in her own way rather daring? Susan did not rely on old marketing ruses, of disrobing and selling her looks before her talent. She simply went into the studio and gave it everything she had.

‘When we started the third record,’ she explains, ‘I was still incredibly nervous. I do worry that I won’t be able to do what I’ve done before or to take it further. But after a week in the studio it began to feel like a second home.’ Once again coupled with super-producer Steve Mac, she had decided that after the sacred and seasonal nature of her second album ‘The Gift’ made her the first artist in history to have her first two records debut at number one on both sides of the Atlantic, she would start responding to the fan mail she had received. ‘There are certain songs that I love personally and they seemed to fit with the kind of stories people had written to me about. That was what this new record was going to be about.’

For some reason, possibly an unflinching honesty that had marked her career from the beginning, possibly the fact that she didn’t fit into the usual marketing model for 21st century female singers, Susan’s fans had begun sharing their innermost stories with her. ‘Really troublesome stuff sometimes,’ she notes. Failed marriages, grief, happy times and sad times, lots of ups and plenty of downs. This was Susan’s mailbag, still mostly delivered the old-fashioned way, with ink and a postage stamp. ‘It touched me really deeply,’ she explains.

Whenever worries about recording a radical new set of songs and turning her career up into fourth gear in the studio hit, it was this intimacy between artist and fan that kept her determined to find the emotional core of the music. ‘You have to mean everything you sing,’ she explains, ‘that was something I’d learned very early on in the studio.’

The first song she nailed was a stripped back and rewired reading of Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy The Silence’. ‘The melody of the song is just beautiful,’ she explains, ‘but really that lyric sounds like it will touch so many people in the way it touched me.’ Susan took the song somewhere entirely new. Hearing somebody who has spent a life at the blunt end of other’s often cruel words sing the line ‘Words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm’ against a string-soaked backdrop lends the composition a distinct new power. With Someone To Look Over Me, one gets the sense she has graduated. These are the touches that make her special.

Other contemporary songs were attacked with similar gusto. A new, stunningly straight interpretation of Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World’ suggested a future in Susan rearranging New Romantic classics was not out of the question. ‘I can’t think of a better song for me to sing,’ she says, recalling the first time she heard it as a young woman in the ‘80s. ‘Just stunning. We wanted to experiment. To get away from just singing standards and ballads. You never know, a younger audience might like it, too. What I have found from my post is that people from 20 to 80 write to me. It isn’t one age group.’

With the heavyweight success Susan has enjoyed over the last two years, doors began opening. Not that she is one to brag about her achievements but Benny and Bjorn from Abba endorsed her singing a special English translation of the stunning, show-stopping curtain raiser ‘You Have To Be There’ from a Swedish musical they scripted. ‘These are very challenging lyrics says Susan, ‘It almost turns the religious feel of the last album around completely. It gets me away from safe territory. It stretches my imagination. I find music in many ways an easier way to communicate than just talking to people.’

Other highlights of ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ include a radically re-arranged rendition of ‘Unchained Melody’, which does to the song as Eva Cassidy did to ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. Somehow a song you have heard countless times before, that is embedded in popular culture is lent a new flavour. ‘Oh, Eva was in an emotional class of her own,’ suggests Susan, ‘as soon as you close your eyes and listen to her you are with her. Comparing me to somebody like that is extremely humbling.’ There is a reading of the Joni Mitchell classic ‘Both Sides Now’, settling Susan into folkier territory, and of course the undeniable emotional pull of the title track.

‘I started to become less intimidated by the studio environment on this record,’ she says, ‘it felt settled.’ Equally, visits to her emergent territories have begun feeling warmer and more comfortable for the artist. ‘I went to Italy just for a holiday, something I would’ve never done before this. I had a trip to New York in August and then LA in early September. America is like my second home now.’ A trip to China as special guest star on China’s Got Talent, was a particular highlight of her global year. ‘It was awesome. Such friendly people. I played to 60,000 in a stadium and then my manager told me half a billion had watched the performance on TV. He didn’t tell me until afterwards, though. Good job!’

So the Susan Boyle story continues, escalating into territory unchartered for not just singers of her ilk but Western singers, full stop. Hers has been a phenomenal tale. The dream shows no sign of ending.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

With a synchronicity you’d have difficulty making up, Susan Boyle’s global record sales hit a monumental 14million on the fourteenth month after her recording career started. With number one albums on five continents, in over 20 countries, her two albums have shifted the Susan story far away from a performance on a British Talent Show. For the devoted listeners to her rangy readings of modern classics, both secular and sacred, timeless love songs and unusually radicalised twists on pop and rock curiosities, this humble woman from a sleepy and largely forgotten Scottish hamlet has become simply one of the premier recording voices of her age.

Susan’s recording career ushered in a figurative change for herself and ergo, for pop at large. ‘I didn’t quite know what was happening myself,’ she says now, at home in Scotland readying herself for the global launch of the third album, ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’. She is not one to keep a close eye on statistics. She didn’t have to. She has stared the effect of her music square in the face. ‘I could see it wherever I travelled around the world. My music was touching a lot of people. People actually wanted to hear what I had sung. I still find that... astonishing.’

Susan Boyle crossed over into a world where seeing her share shelf space with Rihanna, Michael Buble, Gaga and Take That no longer looked like an anomaly. It made a peculiar sort of sense. In the democratic landscape of the New Pop, where characterful singers were just characterful singers, regardless of how much they might look like they had been beamed in from a parallel universe and regardless of genre itself, the idea of Susan Boyle capitalising a substantial corner of the record-buying market for herself and defying the rapid downturn in the industry as a whole was her own edifying achievement. It was no longer buoyed by the ‘reality’ dream she once dreamt. It was now real.

Is it time to start thinking of Susan Boyle as an important scion of our times? A return to music invested with something wholesome, meaningful and in her own way rather daring? Susan did not rely on old marketing ruses, of disrobing and selling her looks before her talent. She simply went into the studio and gave it everything she had.

‘When we started the third record,’ she explains, ‘I was still incredibly nervous. I do worry that I won’t be able to do what I’ve done before or to take it further. But after a week in the studio it began to feel like a second home.’ Once again coupled with super-producer Steve Mac, she had decided that after the sacred and seasonal nature of her second album ‘The Gift’ made her the first artist in history to have her first two records debut at number one on both sides of the Atlantic, she would start responding to the fan mail she had received. ‘There are certain songs that I love personally and they seemed to fit with the kind of stories people had written to me about. That was what this new record was going to be about.’

For some reason, possibly an unflinching honesty that had marked her career from the beginning, possibly the fact that she didn’t fit into the usual marketing model for 21st century female singers, Susan’s fans had begun sharing their innermost stories with her. ‘Really troublesome stuff sometimes,’ she notes. Failed marriages, grief, happy times and sad times, lots of ups and plenty of downs. This was Susan’s mailbag, still mostly delivered the old-fashioned way, with ink and a postage stamp. ‘It touched me really deeply,’ she explains.

Whenever worries about recording a radical new set of songs and turning her career up into fourth gear in the studio hit, it was this intimacy between artist and fan that kept her determined to find the emotional core of the music. ‘You have to mean everything you sing,’ she explains, ‘that was something I’d learned very early on in the studio.’

The first song she nailed was a stripped back and rewired reading of Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy The Silence’. ‘The melody of the song is just beautiful,’ she explains, ‘but really that lyric sounds like it will touch so many people in the way it touched me.’ Susan took the song somewhere entirely new. Hearing somebody who has spent a life at the blunt end of other’s often cruel words sing the line ‘Words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm’ against a string-soaked backdrop lends the composition a distinct new power. With Someone To Look Over Me, one gets the sense she has graduated. These are the touches that make her special.

Other contemporary songs were attacked with similar gusto. A new, stunningly straight interpretation of Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World’ suggested a future in Susan rearranging New Romantic classics was not out of the question. ‘I can’t think of a better song for me to sing,’ she says, recalling the first time she heard it as a young woman in the ‘80s. ‘Just stunning. We wanted to experiment. To get away from just singing standards and ballads. You never know, a younger audience might like it, too. What I have found from my post is that people from 20 to 80 write to me. It isn’t one age group.’

With the heavyweight success Susan has enjoyed over the last two years, doors began opening. Not that she is one to brag about her achievements but Benny and Bjorn from Abba endorsed her singing a special English translation of the stunning, show-stopping curtain raiser ‘You Have To Be There’ from a Swedish musical they scripted. ‘These are very challenging lyrics says Susan, ‘It almost turns the religious feel of the last album around completely. It gets me away from safe territory. It stretches my imagination. I find music in many ways an easier way to communicate than just talking to people.’

Other highlights of ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ include a radically re-arranged rendition of ‘Unchained Melody’, which does to the song as Eva Cassidy did to ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. Somehow a song you have heard countless times before, that is embedded in popular culture is lent a new flavour. ‘Oh, Eva was in an emotional class of her own,’ suggests Susan, ‘as soon as you close your eyes and listen to her you are with her. Comparing me to somebody like that is extremely humbling.’ There is a reading of the Joni Mitchell classic ‘Both Sides Now’, settling Susan into folkier territory, and of course the undeniable emotional pull of the title track.

‘I started to become less intimidated by the studio environment on this record,’ she says, ‘it felt settled.’ Equally, visits to her emergent territories have begun feeling warmer and more comfortable for the artist. ‘I went to Italy just for a holiday, something I would’ve never done before this. I had a trip to New York in August and then LA in early September. America is like my second home now.’ A trip to China as special guest star on China’s Got Talent, was a particular highlight of her global year. ‘It was awesome. Such friendly people. I played to 60,000 in a stadium and then my manager told me half a billion had watched the performance on TV. He didn’t tell me until afterwards, though. Good job!’

So the Susan Boyle story continues, escalating into territory unchartered for not just singers of her ilk but Western singers, full stop. Hers has been a phenomenal tale. The dream shows no sign of ending.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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