New York-bound singing priest Fr Ray Kelly is set for international stardom as multi-national record labels chase his signature.
The Oldcastle, Co Meath cleric became an overnight internet sensation thanks to a YouTube clip of his version of the Leonard Cohen song ‘Hallelujah’ at a wedding ceremony.
Set for a sell-out concert at New York’s Town Hall in aid of the undocumented Irish on May 13, Fr Kelly is already in negotiations with music industry big wigs.
The parish priest confirmed to the Irish Independent newspaper that he is ‘having a chat’ with various music industry executives.
He said, “There have been a couple of approaches made from big record companies. I’ll sit down and talk to them and see what they have to offer. They have ties in Ireland, the UK and worldwide.
“I have an appointment with Sony this week and also have to make contact with Universal.”
Fr Kelly has already performed his special rewritten version of the Cohen classic on Irish television and it will form the centrepiece of his New York appearance for Irish immigrants next month.
He added, “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.”
Keen to remain a priest, Fr Kelly is already considering signing a management contract.
He admitted: “I’d like to launch an international career – but I still want to be a priest.
“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.”
Now 60, Fr Kelly has been a priest for 25 years and had earlier worked as a civil servant.