Sister act: nuns get into X Factor habit
IT'S the ecclesiastical factor. We've had The Priests and even the Pope record albums. Now one major label is to scour nunneries and convents across Ireland to find a singing sensation that can compete with Lady Gaga.
"We've been looking all over Europe, but we're moving to Ireland because it's such a religious country and has a great tradition in musical performers, just look at U2 and The Corrs," said London-based Decca Records executive Oliver Harrop, who is leading the search.
The record label plans to hold auditions in Dublin during the coming weeks and visit convents in an effort to find what they describe as a "sister act for the 21st century".
The label has already had clerical success with the Austrian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz, who achieved a best-selling album of plainchant in 2008.
But Decca admitted it had already had some difficulty locating nuns with the qualities required.
"We found the most amazing convent of singing nuns in Spain, most of them under 30 and good looking. The problem was their music was a bit happy-clappy. What we're after instead are nuns who sound more like a Gregorian chant when they're praying. It's a beautiful, ancient sound which will give listeners an escape from the stress and anxiety of modern life," Mr Harrop told the Irish Independent.
Along with recording an album, the label is lining up a big gig for the successful act.
And they don't get any bigger than playing for the Pontiff. The date Decca has in mind is during Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Britain next September.
Showbiz priest Fr Brian Darcy welcomed the search for singing nuns. "I think this is a great idea, not least because in 10 years' time there might not be any nuns left, and those sister still around, will probably be in nursing homes," he said.
"My only concern is that, while I do know some singing nuns, I don't know of any sisters who sing together. The Priests have been very succesful but they have been performed together long before they signed a record deal."
Singing nuns are nothing new to the industry. In the 1960s, Sister Luc Gabriel, of the Dominican Fichermont Convent in Belgium, achieved worldwide fame as The Singing Nun with the hit 'Dominique'.
Irish nuns with good singing voices are invited to contact Oliver Harrop of Decca Records at email@example.com.