A dream comes true as singer Susan Boyle becomes instant hit with American fans

CRACKING America is regarded as the Holy Grail for even the biggest of British names. The Beckhams, Oasis and Robbie Williams have all struggled to make it big across the pond.

But in the space of five days, Susan Boyle has gone from being an unknown unemployed karaoke singer to reality TV show contestant – and now a transatlantic sensation.

The devout Catholic from Blackburn, West Lothian, who is single and lives with her cat, is the woman Simon Cowell predicts will go to number one if she releases an album in the US.

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The 48-year-old has already notched up 18 million hits on YouTube following her three-minute rendition of I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables on Britain's Got Talent last Saturday night.

Now American news website MSNBC has logged a further seven million hits on the clip of her wowing judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan at her Britain's Got Talent audition.

Kathie Lee Gifford, the presenter of Today, was moved to tears after Miss Boyle sang live via satellite, from her modest semi-detached home to five million viewers.

And now – in perhaps the ultimate endorsement of her new-found fame – Oprah Winfrey has invited Miss Boyle to appear on her show.

Her brother John says fan mail is arriving from as far as Australia and he has sent her to stay with friends so that she could get some rest from the attention.

He said: "The reaction Susan is getting from people is just amazing. She is long overdue some recognition. I think part of her appeal is that behind the voice she is just such a nice and lovely person too. She is as high as a kite, and she is delighted with everything that is going on."

MSNBC entertainment columnist Courtney Hazlett said the sudden rise to fame held a special resonance for Americans.

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"She has caused a sensation over here. She's the kind of story we are craving just now, the American dream story – that you can be somebody everybody else said couldn't succeed, then get your chance and wow everybody.

"It's a little bit Hollywood, and everybody wants to believe in the good stories just now."

Ms Hazlett said that part of the attraction was the way in which Miss Boyle had won over the music producer and mastermind behind the show, adding that the singer could become a star if she went to America.

The US buzz around Miss Boyle has been such that even Hollywood stars have joined the singer's burgeoning fan club.

Celebrity couple Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher have given their backing to her.

They reportedly saw the performance on the internet video site YouTube, prompting Kutcher to post a link to it on his social networking website Twitter with the comment "This just made my night", while Moore added a note to the link saying "You saw it made me teary!"

More than 1.4 million people "follow" the couple's Twitter site, resulting in thousands more clicks on the link.

However, Miss Boyle reportedly said she did not know who Demi Moore was.

Bookmakers have made Miss Boyle favourite to win the talent show, with odds of 5-2.