Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Susan's Story...

There's a story in each of us. We're the sum of every experience we've had throughout our years, especially the lives of others who've touched ours.

Susan's story begins in a small village in Scotland - Blackburn, West Lothian. Her parents, Patrick and Bridget, had immigrated from County Donegal, Ireland, to Scotland. The youngest of nine children in a devout Roman Catholic family, Susan was born on April 1, 1961, when her Mother was forty-seven years old.

Her surviving siblings include sisters: Bridie and Mary and brothers: John, Joseph, James and Gerard (Gerry). Her sister Kathleen, who was closest in age to Susan, died of a fatal asthma attack eight years ago. Her sister Patricia died of crib death when she was just a few months old before Susan was born.

Susan comes from an immensely talented family. Her father was a singer, her mother an accomplished pianist and her siblings are all talented in music and the arts. Family gatherings are often a time for music. Although Susan had been singing since an early age, it was at a wedding when Susan sang at the age of ten that her talent was seriously recognized. Her mother placed her in the choir at her church when Susan was 12 years old.

Susan's childhood wasn't an easy one. Due to complications at birth, Susan experienced oxygen deprivation for a period of time, resulting in learning difficulties as she grew older. Susan struggled in school because of it. She was bullied and mocked by the other children and spent a great deal of time alone. As she grew up, Susan sought refuge in music, spending hours in her room listening to her favorite records and singing along with them.

After finishing school, Susan worked under a six-month contract as a trainee-cook in the kitchens of West Lothian College. In the following years, Susan invested her life helping others by doing volunteer work at church, helping the elderly. Susan attended the Edinburgh Acting School and participated in the Edinburgh Fringe. She took singing lessons from voice coach Fred O'Neil. Susan enjoyed visiting the theatre to listen to professional singers and took advantage of performing at every local opportunity she had. Early video clips of her singing show a young and lovely Susan and a dynamic voice even then.

Susan has lived in the same rented four-bedroom, two story council home all her life. Eventually, Susan's brothers and sisters left home, one at the time, leaving Susan alone with her parents. Over the past ten years, Susan has known her share of grief, losing her father and her sister Kathleen a short time apart...then losing her mother in 2007 at the age of 91. Since 2007, Susan has been living in the family home alone, except for her beloved ten year old calico cat, Pebbles.

Susan had spent those last few years caring for her mother, Bridget, who had been ill. Mother and daughter had been inseparable. They had watched the talent show, Britain's Got Talent, together; and believing strongly in her daughter's talent, Bridget had encouraged Susan to enter.

Susan's mother died in 2007. For a while, Susan didn't sing...she couldn't. Somewhere along the way, however, Susan knew there was something she must do for her mother. In August 2008, she mustered the courage and applied for the third series of Britain's Got Talent. There was an initial audition, and she was accepted. The rest, as they say, is "is history".

No doubt, you've seen the video clips of each performance, and you know that Susan came in second in BGT. In my opinion, that may actually have been a "blessing in disguise". Now, she has time to pursue much bigger and better things...such as pursuing the dream she had in the first place - being a professional singer!

Susan has participated in a glamourous photo shoot with Harper's Bazaar. There have been dozens of interviews, and Susan has met her share of "stars". She has traveled to America and been met by a thousand fans at the airport. Susan is now living her dream come true. Currently, Susan is living in a plush apartment in a wonderful section of London and concentrating on completing her first album , I Dreamed A Dream, which is due out November 24th. Even months before its release date, the album has been at the top of the charts.

I'd like to believe that Bridget Boyle somehow knows that the world has fallen in love with Susan and now knows what Bridget knew all along, that her daughter has an incredible gift...

Note: I wish that I could have interviewed Susan personally about her life. There are so many questions I'd like to ask her. I'd also like to tell her how impressed I am with the courage that she has demonstrated in pursuing her dream. Instead, I had to read every interview that I could find to get the answers in her words.

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