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Pressure grows for Scotland's singing sensation

GLOBAL Internet sensation Susan Boyle was preparing to compete in the final of "Britain's Got Talent" last night amid signs she is struggling to cope with her sudden rise to stardom.

The 48-year-old unemployed church volunteer from Scotland, who once joked she had never been kissed and has been described by newspapers as "frumpy" and a "hairy angel," threatened to pull out of the popular television contest this week.

"She's been in tears repeatedly," Piers Morgan, one of the show's judges, said.

In his blog, he wrote: "Let me tell you now, there is a downside to fame. People start criticizing you, sniping at you, trying to trip you up, belittle you, harass you.

"I am calling today for everyone to just give her a break."

Boyle's performance of the song "I Dreamed a Dream" last month in the first round of "Britain's Got Talent" has been viewed more than 150 million times on the Internet and turned her into a major celebrity.

Film crews camped outside her home in the small town in rural Scotland where she lives alone with her cat, tabloid reporters have followed her every move and she is front page news almost every day in Britain.

Boyle appeared on chat shows hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Larry King in the United States and has become a media sensation all over the world.

While her voice has the power to reduce judges on the show to tears, Boyle's success has also raised the awkward question of why people were so surprised she had such a talent.

With her unkempt hair and apparent indifference to what she wore, Boyle was the antithesis of what many viewers thought a celebrity should be. She had to overcome sniggers from the audience before she first performed, and judge Simon Cowell apologized on air for underestimating her.

A fan site dedicated to Boyle is titled: "Never judge a book by its cover."

Boyle was up against nine other acts in last night's final, but was the overwhelming favorite to win.

A victory is likely to secure her a major recording contract and even more media attention, although her financial status should already be secure.

Morgan said in his blog that Boyle had learning difficulties after being deprived of oxygen at birth, and was nicknamed "Simple Susan" at school.

Her erratic behavior in recent days, including an altercation with reporters, raised concerns she might pull out of the final, but the ITV channel which airs the competition confirmed that she would perform.


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