A humble Irish cleric, Father Ray Kelly, a parish priest in Oldcastle, County Meath, is set for international stardom after a smashing performance of REM's “Everybody Hurts” on Britain’s Got Talent.
Similar to Susan Boyle, the 64-year-old Kelly wowed arch critic Simon Cowell who called his performance “One of my favorite ever auditions…I loved the version of the song.”
Father Kelly first sprang to fame four years ago with a version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” sung at a wedding mass for the bride and groom.
The You Tube of that wedding went viral, reaching over 60 million people, and Kelly became a much sought after singer at local concerts but never made the international breakthrough.
Now, however, he has wowed all of Britain and Ireland again with his smash hit performance.
Strangely the night began awkwardly with Cowell asking sardonically if the priest did exorcisms.
However, once he began to sing the cynicism of the judging panel turned to sheer joy.
Kelly said in the days after the wedding he received requests to sing “Hallelujah” at weddings in Japan, Croatia, the United States, the United Kingdom, all over Ireland, South Africa, Poland, Lithuania and more besides.
He also appeared on television in Germany and Ireland's The Late Late Show.
Fr Kelly has always been one to sing in Mass at St. Brigid’s Catholic Church, but his parishioners could never have imagined that their priest would become a worldwide sensation now after Britain’s Got Talent and SImon Cowell’s incredible endorsement.
Speaking about his congregation, he said they’re “happy and excited to see their parish priest propelled into the limelight, so to speak. They've been so supportive. As they say, it's a great story that has really put Oldcastle on the map.”
He added, “I hope my music is really embraced and loved by people all over the world.” His aim is to perform for worthwhile charities, he said.