Susan Boyle, a middle-aged volunteer church worker, became an instant international media sensation when her audition on the TV show Britain's Got Talent aired Saturday.
After walking out on stage in a frumpy beige dress, Boyle told the show's audience that she's 47, unemployed and single. And then she performed "I Dreamed a Dream," from the musical Les Miserables. The crowd began cheering within seconds of her first note and gave her a standing ovation.
"Everyone was laughing at you," judge Piers Morgan told Boyle as she stood onstage after her performance. "No one is laughing now. That was stunning. An incredible performance."
Boyle isn't the first unlikely sensation to emerge from Britain's Got Talent, which just began its third season. Paul Potts didn't look like a singing star, either, but the Season 1 winner's debut album, One Chance, became an international best-seller after his own audition — performing Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" — became a YouTube sensation.
By Wednesday, a clip of Boyle's performance had been watched more than 7 million times on YouTube — a number that jumped to 12 million by the following morning. The winner of Britain's Got Talent, who will be chosen on May 30, wins £100,000 — the equivalent of roughly $150,000.