The priest who shot to social media fame in 2014 when his rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah at a wedding in Oldcastle, County Meath, went viral on Youtube, has reportedly previously had a record deal, with Universal, and had two albums to his name and toured the U.S.
The 64-year-old’s cover of the REM hit, got four ‘yeses’ from the judges and even moved Simon Cowell to tears with his emotional performance.
The band REM gave it their approval from their official Twitter account, ‘Powerful and poignant rendition of “Everybody Hurts” by Fr. Ray Kelly. Bravo!’
Father Kelly made no mention of his professional singing background and only mentioned at his audition that he regularly sang in church. He released 10- track album called Where I Belong back in 2014 went platinum with 40,000 sales. He then released An Irish Christmas Blessing in 2015, before touring the US with his Hallelujah Tour USA last year. His contract with Universal reportedly came to an end in 2015.
A Britain’s Got Talent spokesperson said: “Father Ray Kelly was signed to Universal International for two albums only. His recording deal with Universal ended in 2015.
“He is currently a working priest and BGT is his biggest performance to date.”
Discussing the performance on a video posted on the official Britain’s Got Talent Twitter account, Father Kelly said: “I just had the most amazing experience on the stage singing everybody hurts.
“Four judges gave me a standing ovation – I mean it doesn’t get better than that!
“I’m shaking still, I’m absolutely shaking! I genuinely was not expecting that. I’m just floored by it.”