Susan Boyle's fame could have ended once Britain's Got Talent wrapped up, but the inspirational singer instead recorded a debut album that broke U.S. sales records in its first week. To top it all off, Boyle is gearing up for her exclusive TV Guide Network concert special, I Dreamed a Dream: The Susan Boyle Story (Sunday, Dec. 13 at 8/7c). Boyle sat down with the creators of the special to relive each step of her incredible journey. In Part 3 of our four-part interview (read Part 1 and Part 2 of the Q&A), Boyle takes us inside the making of the chart-topping album.
Check out our roundup of the artists Boyle covered
At what point did you know you were going to make a record?
I wasn't sure until after the show. I had a meeting at the record company. They asked me if I wanted to make a record, and I was a wee bit nervous. Simon Cowell knew my dream was to make a record, and he said if I still wanted to do it, then he would offer me a deal. You don't get that every lifetime, do you? After 23 years of waiting and wanting to make a record, it takes your breath away really. There aren't really words to describe it except... wow. It didn't feel real. I kept asking myself, "Is this really happening?" I kept expecting someone to say, "Ha ha, love, we're kidding."
Describe the feeling the first day you walked into the studio?
When you go into the studio, you see all these plaques on the walls of different artists, and I said to myself, "You're going to make an album and eventually if you're good enough you'll be there." I felt quite shy, but I was determined to do my best. The album was so important to me, and it was very important to have songs that personally appealed to me. I sat and listened to music and heard songs and thought about things that would suit my voice and songs that meant something to me when I heard them.
You mentioned listening to The Rolling Stones as a kid, and you chose "Wild Horses."
I just hope that I can do it justice. The words are great. They take me back to where I lived. It's a very powerful song.
Piers Morgan to host TV Guide Network's exclusive Susan Boyle concert special
What was the first song you recorded for the album?
It was "I Dreamed A Dream" first and then "Cry Me A River." I remembered it being the theme tune from the TV show McCallum. I'd been through to Edinburgh to a wee studio to see how my voice sounded on tape, and that was the song we'd sung there. I went into the booth and sang the song and that was that. I found it easier than you'd think. It's a Julie London song, with a lovely 1950s feel about it. I like that era. It seems so tame and innocent now.
Obviously "I Dreamed A Dream" had to be on the album.
Obviously. But a lot of the ones that moved me surprised me a lot. "Wild Horses" was a song like that. I just didn't expect it to suit my voice as much as it did. I'd never tried singing that song before. It was all new territory for me. I'm used to singing music from the musical theatre, and this was rock music. But the lyrics drew me into the song, and as the story unfolded, I got it. I felt drawn in by the words. The same thing with "You'll See."
That's quite something isn't it? Susan Boyle takes on Madonna!
It's a song about determination. I am a determined woman, despite the bullying I've had in the past. It's a song about proving yourself as your own woman. I instantly loved that song. It's a song about knowing that whatever happens to you, you'll be alright.
Check out 11 other overnight sensations
What about the new song: "Who I Was Born To Be"?
This is fate telling me what I should be doing with my life. I heard that song, and instantly I knew. It's a brand-new song. A very powerful song. It was a very moving song to sing.
How pleased are you with the album?
The whole thing has come together so well — beyond my wildest dreams, really. I had a great producer. Steve [Mac] was so kind to me. He was brilliant to work with, and he got the best out of me. The album itself is like a reflection on my whole life. I've waited so long to become a professional singer and now it's become real.