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Boyle Hopes Debut Album ‘Delivers’ for Fans

Until a few months ago, Susan Boyle could not have dreamed that this day would arrive.

The Scottish singer, 48, who became an unlikely overnight sensation last spring after wowing Simon Cowell and the YouTube masses with her rendition of I Dreamed a Dream, releases her debut album today.

The CD, which shares its title with that song, has set a global record for preorders at Amazon. But some wonder whether the raw but powerful voice that enabled Boyle to achieve fame will be enough to sustain a career, even in the short term.

Since Boyle's meteoric rise, there have been reports of erratic behavior and exhaustion. After placing second on Britain's Got Talent, she spent several days at a psychiatric hospital. She isn't doing interviews - a rare decision for any new artist - but consented to answer a few questions for USA TODAY by e-mail. "I don't want to disappoint anybody," she wrote when asked whether she felt nervous. "(I) hope I have delivered the record that my fans want."

Produced by Steve Mac, who has worked with Leona Lewis and Kelly Clarkson, Dream consists mostly of covers, a mix of ballads (Wild Horses) and spirituals (How Great Thou Art). Columbia Records chairman Steve Barnett is bullish on its prospects, noting fans "support Susan's every move. It's truly a special connection."

In sales, she's up against big guns: Rihanna, Shakira and American Idol's Adam Lambert all have albums out today. Amazon's Craig Pape declines to give figures but confirms that Boyle's presales surpass others' "by far." More than 80,000 orders have rolled in at QVC, which is selling Boyle's CD with a bonus DVD. "We knew (Dream) would do very well, and it's exceeded our expectations," QVC's Rich Yoegel says.

Billboard senior chart manager Keith Caulfield says Boyle's musical style may be an advantage. "She could appeal to fans who like Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban, and that's women over 35, who tend to buy more albums."

Boyle's promoters "still face the challenge of establishing her as something beyond a novelty act," says former Spin and Vibe editor Alan Light. "People are often attracted to a star's story, but the question is if that can be converted into a career."

Boyle seems game to do her part. Referring to her first U.S. concert, airing live this morning on NBC's Today, she wrote: "It has always been my dream to go to Rockefeller Plaza. I am really enjoying TV performances and traveling."

And, no doubt, knowing that others are rooting for her.

Says Light: "You hope that she's been through the most difficult part. Now maybe she can decide what she wants to do and do it."

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