YouTube star cleric set to seek guidance from singing Priests
YOUTUBE sensation Fr Ray Kelly has revealed he plans to seek advice from fellow musical clerics 'The Priests' on how to juggle parish work with his new singing career.
Fr Kelly became a global sensation last month after his version of the Leonard Cohen hit Hallelujah, which he performed at a wedding in his parish, went viral on YouTube and quickly notched up more than 34 million views.
He is now on the verge of cutting his first major record deal, as three heavy-hitting labels – including Sony and Universal – chase his signature.
But the 60-year-old said one of his first priorities would be to get tips from multi-platinum selling trio 'The Priests' on how best to have a successful singing career while not neglecting the daily demands of the priesthood.
The talented trio, all of whom are full-time clergymen from the North, have become one of the most sought-after classical musical acts in the world since they formed five years ago. They boast the fastest-selling classical debut album of all time.
But the singers – Fr David Delargy and brothers Fr Eugene and Fr Martin O'Hagan – have remained committed to their vocations and always insisted that the priesthood comes before touring and making albums.
Fr Kelly said: "I haven't met 'The Priests' yet but I certainly plan on speaking to them to see how they managed to combine the duties of their parishes with all the performances they do.
"For them, it's probably even trickier to go on tours because they have to make arrangements and get cover for three parishes, whereas for me it'll be just the one.
"But it will be very interesting to have a chat with them and get some advice."
Fr Kelly said he was determined to cut "the best record deal possible" after being approached by a third major label in recent days.
He has already been in negotiations with Sony and Universal, but he said a third big industry player – whose identity he did not disclose – had since made contact with him.
"I want to get the best deal possible, one that allows me to record not just one album, but two or three," he explained.
"The money is important too, because that will enable me to donate more to certain charities and to help out my family members, some of who are in negative equity.
"I also have personal needs myself and want to look after myself, as I'm not on a huge salary as a priest."
However, Fr Kelly, the parish priest in Oldcastle, Co Meath, stressed that whatever international success lies ahead, he will never turn his back on his vocation.
He said: "Next month I celebrate 25 years as a priest. It's a lifelong commitment and I love the parish. First and foremost, I am a priest, but I think my duties in the parish and the singing can work successfully together."
Fr Kelly also revealed that he has still been receiving regular requests to perform at events and weddings abroad, although he admitted: "Things have died down a bit, which I'm relieved about."
And he said one welcome change that his newfound fame has brought him was a rise in Mass attendances.
He said: "The Sunday before last a couple flew in from California and made their way up to Mass. They told me, 'We had to come and see you.'"