Hallelujah! Fr Ray signs a record deal - and gets recording studio at parochial house
Singing priest Fr Ray Kelly has taken a major step in his bid for stardom after signing a deal with a major record label.
The Irish cleric, who became a global sensation after his version of the Leonard Cohen hit Hallelujah at a wedding went viral on YouTube, has teamed up with Universal Music Ireland, one of three industry players that had been chasing his signature.
The 60-year-old has begun writing and recording songs for an album that he hopes will be released for the Christmas market.
His new record bosses have ensured he will never be too far from his parishioners when cutting new tracks - they've built him a recording studio at his parochial house in Oldcastle, Co Meath.
"I signed a deal a few weeks ago with Universal and they built a studio here, so I'm delighted with that and I'm recording here at the moment," Fr Kelly said.
"I'm working away and there's been a producer and musical arranger over from Austria.
"We're looking to get an album out before Christmas and there will be three or four originals on it that I wrote nad one new wedding son, as well as one or two Christmas favourites.
"We'll target the Irish market at Christmas, then Germany in January and after that the US around St Patrick's Day."
Fr Kelly also said he plans to perform a few concerts in Ireland later this year, after which a tour of the US is planned to coincide with the release of his debut album there.
Before signing with Universal, Fr Kelly had spent almost two months in talks with record chiefs, including representatives from Sony and a smaller independent company.
The devoted churchman, who celebrated his 25th year as a priest in June, said he would only sign if he was happy with the deal.
"I would like to be in a position to be able to donate more to certain charities and to look after members of my own family, some of whom are in negative equity," he said.
"I also have personal needs and want to look after myself as I'm not on a huge salary as a priest."
Fr Kelly has received regular requests to perform at events abroad and has seen an increase in numbers attending Mass at his church.