Pete Goddard/Splash News Online, Janet Mayer/Splash News Online
By Rennie Dyball
07/22/2009 at 05:55 PM EDT
Meredith Vieira had heard the rumors about Susan Boyle, the Britain's Got Talent runner-up in the news last month for missing six dates on the show's tour following a five-day stay at a mental health clinic.
"I heard about some of the drama ... that she was out of control, had shown signs of instability," Meredith Vieira tells PEOPLE of taping an interview with Boyle in London July 16. "I really didn't know who I would meet."
Turns out, the cohost was pleasantly surprised.
"She looked great and seemed extremely relaxed and confident," adds Vieira. "[There was] no indication that this was somebody who was unstable. Quite the opposite – she seemed very comfortable in her skin."
"I brush up quite well," joked a confident and happy Boyle – who sported a new, sophisticated look – during the interview which aired Wednesday morning.
During the segment, Boyle described her time at the Priory mental health clinic as "necessary at the time. I just needed a rest. Needed to get away."
So how is the church-singer-turned-superstar adjusting to life in the spotlight after a much-publicized breakdown?
"She's figuring it out," says Vieira, who notes that the singer had a friend from Scotland with her on the day of the interview. "I think she's watched very carefully – she said she has a good team around her to help her put it in perspective."
Vieira also described the Scottish singer as "sensitive . . . she came off more as a regular person, not as a celebrity. Frankly, I was quite surprised how fun and chatty she was."
Looking ahead to her debut album, Boyle (whose interview will be continued Wednesday night on America's Got Talent and on Today Thursday morning) said with a smile that the finished product (due this fall) would be "something of a surprise."
In addition to the Vieira interview, Boyle was also back in Scotland last week, picking up some mail from home.
"She was great, peaceful and calm," her brother John tells PEOPLE, also joking that his sister's cat, Pebbles "is probably fed up with scratching a living [in Scotland] and has gone down to London to become a fat cat."
"I really do think she's a lovely lady," says Vieira, who also chatted with Boyle about Pebbles. "I wish her the best. She's earned it."