Susan Boyle, the Scottish singer who became an overnight sensation while competing on “Britain’s Got Talent,” revealed Sunday that she had a stroke last year.
The 62-year-old mezzo-soprano shared the health update on live TV when she returned for the Season 16 finale of the talent show that launched her career in 2009. Boyle joined Lucie Jones of the West End Cast of “Les Misérables” to perform “I Dreamed a Dream,” her original audition song from 14 years ago that plucked the the modest church volunteer from obscurity and made her a YouTube superstar.
Boyle, who lost her season in a heartbreaking upset to dance troupe Diversity, said it felt great to be back on the show this week.
“It’s extra special for me, actually, because last April there, I suffered a minor stroke,” she told the hosts onstage. “I fought like crazy to get back on stage and I have done it.”
“Britain’s Got Talent” judge and creator Simon Cowell welcomed Boyle back for the live finale and praised the singer, who has since mounted a successful recording career despite her loss on the show. (Boyle has sold more than 20 million albums and has been nominated for two Grammy Awards. She has also performed for the late Queen Elizabeth II, President Obama and Pope Benedict XVI.)
“Susan, we owe you so much and I knew you weren’t well, but if anyone was going to come back you were going to come back because it wouldn’t be the same without you,” Cowell said.
Boyle further opened up about her health scare in a Facebook post following the performance.
“Tonight I had the privilege of returning to ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and performing with the wonderful cast of ‘Les Miserables,'” she wrote. “This evening was even more special for me as in April of 2022 I had a stroke.
“For the past year I have worked so hard to get my speech and singing back, with the sole aim of being able to sing on stage again & tonight my hard work & perseverance paid off, singing the song that started it all, ‘I Dreamed A Dream,'” she wrote.
In 2009, when Boyle came in a surprise second during the show’s final round, the “emotionally drained and exhausted” performer apparently collapsed from nerves and exhaustion and was admitted to the Priory Hospital, a psychiatric clinic in London.
Boyle shared in 2013 that she had been diagnosed with what was then called Asperger’s syndrome, a developmental disorder on the autism spectrum that affects social interaction and communication skills. As a child, Boyle said, she suffered from learning disabilities she was told resulted from oxygen deprivation at birth. In 2012, she sought the advice of a specialist who determined she had an above-average IQ.
“I was told I had brain damage. It was the wrong diagnosis when I was a kid,” she told the Observer in 2013. “I always knew it was an unfair label. Now I have a clearer understanding of what’s wrong and I feel relieved and a bit more relaxed about myself.”
By 2019, the recording artist said that she had amassed a multimillion-pound fortune but tried not to flaunt it because she remembered how “miserable” it was to be poor. That same year, she performed on “BGT’s” U.S. counterpart, “America’s Got Talent: The Champions.” The all-star performed “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones and earned the high honor of the golden buzzer from judge and former Spice Girl Mel B.
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