Franciscan Friar becomes first to sign major record deal
A FRANCISCAN tenor has become the first ever friar to sign a major recording contract, after music executives heard him sing in his native Italy.
Alessandro Brustenghi, who has taken a vow of poverty, will now showcase his voice to millions of opera fans after signing an album deal.
The friar, who boarded an aeroplane for the first time to travel to Abbey Road studios, intends to donate all proceeds from record sales to the Order of Friars Minor for charitable work.
He has been signed to Decca Records, part of Universal Music, with executives from 25 different countries flying to London to see his first performance at the 2012 International Decca Conference in Westminster today.
It will be Friar Alessandro’s first performance outside Italy, although he already features in his own YouTube video.
The friar, who has been singing all his life, usually works as a carpenter, making wooden lecturns and restoring furniture.
He also welcomes visitors to Assisi as part of his work at the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
Despite his sheltered life, he claims he grew up listening to Michael Jackson and Bach, loves electronic music, and cites Bjork as his latest musical interest.
He will not accept money for his record sales, diverting it instead to the religious order.
His first album, made up of a mixture of traditional and modern sacred songs, will be released in October.
It includes an original track by Royal Wedding composer Paul Mealor, set to a prayer written by St Francis of Assisi, and will be made at Abbey Road by Mike Hedges.
According to Decca Records, Hedges, who has also worked with U2, The Cure, Manic Street Preachers, “discovered” Alessandro while searching for a new tenor in Italy, and only latterly realised he was a friar.
Friar Alessandro said: "I’m a bit nervous but I understand this is necessary as it is a good opportunity to unleash this beautiful music to everybody.
"I feel excited, very excited because it’s realised my vocation.
"Music for me is a direct line with God. It’s the way to communicate with him, and it’s the way God uses to communicate with us. It’s the way to spread the gospel, to everybody, to the world.
"The story of St. Francis of Assisi is very similar to mine. Francis was a humble man, and he decided to spread the gospel with music, dance and joy.”