Irish priest Father Ray Kelly’s wedding rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” racked up close to 35 million hits on YouTube in less than month – and also attracted the attention of the powers that be at Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which pulled the hugely popular video last week.
Kelly, a parish priest in Oldcastle, Co. Meath, became an Internet sensation following the April 7 release of a video that saw him surprise a couple during their wedding ceremony by breaking into Cohen’s famed song. The video resulted in a flood of worldwide attention for Kelly, and offers of recording contracts from leading record labels including, ironically, Sony.
Those looking for view the video now, however, are greeted with a frowning red face on a black screen with the words, “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Sony/ATV Publishing.” Leonard Cohen, who wrote and first performed the song, is represented by Sony/ATV
When contacted by the Irish Voice for comment on the matter, Sony/ATV Vice President Sean Melia provided a one-sentence reply: “The video was taken down because it wasn’t licensed.”
Fr. Kelly says he has received no official comment as to why his video was removed from YouTube following weeks of success.
Speaking from Ireland on Tuesday, Kelly told the Irish Voice “Before I went to bed on Monday night, I decided to check how many views the video had risen to, but I couldn’t access it.
“I tried to find the video a few more times, but I have no idea why it has been taken down, and have not received any official reason.”
Kelly is pastor of his parish in Oldcastle and added, “I’d love to know why it’s been taken down, especially after gaining millions of views over the past two or three weeks.”
Kelly will travel to New York to take part in a fundraiser for the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) on Tuesday, May 13 at Town Hall in New York. There has also been a surge of interest in his singing talents from record labels.
Kelly said his appointment with Sony was extremely positive and that after meeting with the managing director of the label in Ireland, he was hopeful that a deal would be struck to produce a record. He also mentioned that Universal is keen to put a potential deal on the table sooner rather than later.
“The meeting was very nice and cordial, now I just have to wait for them to get back to me,” Kelly said.
The priest also spoke of his upcoming trip to New York and his excitement at hearing that ticket sales are going well. He said that his vision for the upcoming trip and concert was to bridge the gap between Ireland and America, adding that many of his parishioners in Meath had been reaching out to him to put him in touch with people they know in New York.
ILIR’s evening of Irish entertainment will take place at Town Hall on West 43rd Street on Tuesday, May 13, at 8 p.m. Tickets will be available at the Town Hall box office and through Ticketmaster. For inquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fr. Kelly's performance of "Hallelujah" on the "Late Late Show" is still online for now, so enjoy!