In just 18 months, Susan Boyle went from church volunteer to international singing superstar.
Susan's showstopping Britain's Got Talent audition was just the beginning of her meteoric rise in music. Her debut CD, I Dreamed a Dream, was the best-selling album in the world in 2009, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
But this is no one-hit wonder. Preorders for her new album, The Gift, are in the millions, and she's written a memoir called The Woman I Was Born to Be.
She's also performed for the pope, met her teenage crush Donny Osmond and is now pulling off the biggest performance in Oprah Show history!
She's earned the world's admiration, but Susan says she was bullied relentlessly while growing up. "[Bullies were] burning my clothes with a cigarette and stuff like that and trying to trip me up," she says. "It wasn't really human. I was being hit around the head, stuff like that."
Though she was physically hurt, Susan says the psychological damage of bullying is more painful. "[There was] really repeated name calling," she says. "It made me feel as if nobody loved me. I really didn't matter. I was just a target. Once you give bullies that power, they've really got a hold on you."
Still, Susan says she used her musical gifts to try to silence those who picked on her. "I couldn't do the fisticuffs because, to be honest, I was an absolute coward," she says. "What you do is you do well in something and you try and gain their respect in some way, and that's what I was trying to do with my singing."
Today, Susan says she feels stronger than ever. "I feel loved, and that's something I didn't feel when I was younger."
Susan has one important piece of advice for anyone facing a bully. "Get a confidant, someone they can trust," she says. "Because if they can't get a confidant, you feel like you're alone. Like there's nobody around to help you."
In the span of one year, Susan got to meet two people she's always adored—Donny Osmond and the pope. Susan says meeting Donny was her teen dream come true. "It was awesome," she says. "That's all I'm saying."
Susan says singing for the pope during his visit to Scotland was a true privilege. "When you sing for someone as high as His Holiness, it doesn't get much better than that, really, because he's the leader of the Catholic Church. He's the leader of my faith," she says. "To sing for him is a pleasure and an honor."
Still, Susan admits she was nervous. "Who wouldn't be?"