Northern Ireland

Susan Boyle: BBC Proms performance in Belfast will be 'surreal'

Susan Boyle Image copyright Sony
Image caption Susan Boyle is performing at BBC Proms in the Park in Belfast on Saturday

She became a singing sensation thanks to stunning performances on a TV talent show.

And a decade on, Susan Boyle is set to headline BBC's Proms in the Park in Belfast for the first time.

She will perform with the Australian tenor Mark Vincent and the Ulster Orchestra on Saturday.

Around 10,000 people are expected to attend the sold-out concert at the iconic Titanic slipways in the city.

'Let me at it!'

Shortly before her rehearsal on Friday, Ms Boyle told BBC News NI she was excited about singing in Belfast and at the Proms.

"It seems very surreal, because one minute you're watching it on television and the next, you're actually doing it," she said.

"I'm very excited, it's my very first time in Belfast and it's a beautiful place to be in. I can't wait - let me at it!"

Susan Boyle's story may be well known by now, but it is still remarkable.

Image caption The Scottish singer said the past 10 years have been 'a rollercoaster' with 'ups and downs'

Having previously entered singing competitions close to her Scottish home, she auditioned for Britain's Got Talent in 2008, aged 47.

None of the millions of viewers who tuned in for the hit show will ever forget the look on the faces of judges Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden when she sang like an angel.

On YouTube, around 100 million people watched her broadcast audition.

Her rendition of 'I Dreamed a Dream' from the musical Les Miserables was not enough for her to win the contest - she was pipped to the post by the dance troupe Diversity - but overnight, she became a star.

'Rollercoaster'

In 2009, when she released her first album, only Taylor Swift sold more copies than her in the USA.

Since then, despite intense media scrutiny at times, Susan Boyle has built a successful and sustained singing career.

She described the past 10 years as "a rollercoaster" with "ups and downs".

"It's just one thing after another, but it's all great and it's something I love doing."

Her fellow headliner, Mark Vincent, has a remarkable story of his own.

Image caption Mark Vincent said performing at Proms in the Park will be one of the highlights of his career

Despite being only in his mid-twenties, he has been singing professionally for a decade and has had a string of hit albums in his native Australia.

He told BBC News NI, though, that performing at Proms in the Park is one of the highlights of his career.

"To be able to perform here at the BBC Proms with Susan Boyle, it doesn't get better than that," he said.

'Dream come true'

"I've been following Proms since I was a little boy, watching performances at the Royal Albert Hall and wondering to myself would I ever be there on stage."

"And to stand here now in Belfast, it doesn't get any better than that - it's a dream come true.

"It's amazing to think that I'm at this point of my career."

Image caption The stage is set up for rehearsals ahead of Saturday's performance

Other performers at Saturday night's concert in Belfast include pianist Elizabeth Brauss, acclaimed violinist Ziyu He, local musician Tom Myles and the New Irish Chamber Choir.

It is sold out, but will be broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster at 19:30 BST and streamed live at bbc.co.uk/nilive

BBC One Northern Ireland and BBC Four will also show a television highlights programme on Sunday 22 September at 17:35 BST and 19:00 BST respectively.

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