Thursday 19 September 2019

Hallelujah: singing priest in talks with record labels

Mark O'Regan

A SINGING priest who became an overnight internet sensation will hold talks with a number of major record companies this week. If all goes well, Fr Ray Kelly, based in Oldcastle, Co Meath, may be set for global stardom.

Fr Kelly became an international internet hit when his version of the Leonard Cohen classic 'Hallelujah', sung at a wedding ceremony, was uploaded on to YouTube.

Fr Kelly, who is a parish priest, confirmed he would be "having a chat'' with various music industry executives in the coming days.

"There have been a couple of approaches made from big record companies," he said. "I'll sit down and talk to them and see what they have to offer. They have ties in Ireland, the UK and worldwide."

Fr Kelly says he has an appointment with Sony this week and also has to make contact with Universal.

After shooting to stardom, he also performed the specially reworded version of the song on 'The Late Late Show'.

"I knew I could sing – and that I had a voice – but I never thought I'd be in this league. As a young lad I always dreamed about hitting the big time. But not many people get there.

"It's kind of like somebody winning the Lotto – and then all of a sudden their life changes forever. Somebody even compared me to a male Susan Boyle.''

Fr Kelly said if the current level of interest continued he would have to get "some form" of management.

"I'd like to launch an international career – but I still want to be a priest,'' he said. "I've done a few amateur CDs and it was lovely to put the voice down on vinyl. But all this would put me in a different league altogether. When I did the other albums I paid for them myself and sold them for charity."

The parish priest hopes he can marry any promotional work involved with a recording contract with his duties as a priest. On May 11, he is due to perform in a concert for Irish emigrants in New York. Fr Kelly, who is 60, has been a priest for 25 years, having earlier worked as a civil servant.

Irish Independent

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