Everyone loves a good comeback story, and Scottish singer Susan Boyle’s played out pretty spectacularly on Monday’s episode of America’s Got Talent: The Champions. Nine years after she first captured the world’s heart on Britain’s version of the talent show, Boyle returned to sing for Simon Cowell (and the other judges) once more. Spoiler alert: She nailed it.
As one of the top winners over the years of the international talent competition franchise, Boyle was asked to return to compete among other memorable contestants from seasons past. And belting out her own spin on The Rolling Stones’ 1971 hit “Wild Horses,” Boyle proved she’s still got her trademark singing chops.
“What an honor and pleasure it is to be sitting here and listening to you — your angelic voice,” judge Mel B told Boyle, adding as she gave her Golden Buzzer, “I want to be the woman who gives you something you deserve.”
All the judges were excited to see Boyle back, but arguably none more so than Cowell.
“You know what, Susan? I can’t think of any other contestant who has defined this show better than you, if I’m being honest. You’re the one, you made a huge difference in a lot of people’s lives. I’m absolutely thrilled you’re here,” Cowell gushed to her.
When Boyle made her debut on season three of Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, the audience was, well, dubious when she approached the mic. But when she belted out “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Misérables, she wowed everyone watching.
“Most of the audience, they were laughing, but they looked at my mouth, and that seemed to change,” Boyle recalled. “You don’t expect people to be that excited about you. I’m glad I stepped on that stage.”
Since that life-changing moment, Boyle has gone on to blow her original goal of simply being a professional singer out of the water. Her first album, I Dreamed a Dream, became the U.K.’s best-selling debut album of all time. She has gone on to release five more albums, earning a total of three No. 1 albums and two Grammy nominations over the years.
She has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and, per Page Six, has an estimated net worth of $33 million. Famously down to earth (she still lives with her cat, Pebbles, in the modest home she bought when she first became famous), she reportedly applied for a minimum-wage cashier job at a Blackburn, Scotland, shop called Ladbrokes in 2014.
Boyle is also generous with her fortune, often contributing to charitable groups and endeavors.
When asked by AGT producers whether she felt like a champion, she responded, “A champion for those who maybe don’t have the confidence to do things, for those who don’t have a voice, the ones who people tend to ignore. I feel like I’m a champion for them. Coming in second doesn’t mean you lost; it’s an unfulfilled promise.”
Boyle added, “[I’m] excited to show Simon how much I’ve grown since the last time he saw me. It’s my golden opportunity to have that promise fulfilled.”
America’s Got Talent: The Champions airs every Monday night at 8/7c on NBC.