Since becoming a worldwide sensation, Susan's life—and look—have changed dramatically. "Before the audition, my life was kind of mundane, really. It was really routine, like everyone else's," she says. "But after the audition, people began recognizing me on the street, and I had begun to take myself a bit more seriously as a professional singer."

Some people may not recognize Susan now that she's working with hair stylists, makeup artists and wardrobe consultants. "My old look resembled a wee waif from Blackburn," she says. "The new look is more professional, more polished."

While Susan says she's enjoying being in the spotlight now, fame took a toll early on. In June 2009, Susan spent three days in a London hospital, recuperating from exhaustion.

"There are two types of exhaustion. There's exhaustion due to health and exhaustion due to work," she says. "I like to be busy, so I was very exhausted because I worked. So I was fine. Absolutely fine. But it's over with now. You get over that stage, and you just get on with your life. Don't dwell on the past."

Susan takes comfort in knowing she's never alone. She says her late mother is always with her in spirit. "[My mother is] right here in this room. She would have been really proud of me," she says. "I do feel there is a kind of presence. I do feel there is someone there who's saying, 'Susan, keep going.' And that person is my mother."


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