It great to see that the musical mainstream gets a taste of something different. Father Ray Kelly is not your average pop star. he is a priest- and will always be even in the midst of fame. YouTube exposed his talent to the public and that gave way to a beautiful debut album. Various tours in many places followed. But who is Father Kelly?
His music is very much rooted to the Irish Celtic tradition with Folk and Pop styles thrown in between. Where I Belong is the debut album comprising of twelve songs. They are carefully chosen and crafted. If you read the interview below, he explains how these tracks ended up in the album. My favourites are Everybody Hurts(Originally done by REM), Amazing Grace and Oh Danny Boy. The single Hallelujah(originally written and performed by Leonard Cohen) has an emotional intensity that is original. He voice is also beautiful. Find out more about the wonder that is father Kelly.
On being called YouTube sensation:
The words YouTube sensation I find difficult to understand. Obviously they come from the fact that I have over 42 million hits of the personalised version of Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah sung at Chris & Leah O Kane’s wedding. It is indeed very exciting that people want to watch the YouTube hit and from emails and letters from all over the world it has brought comfort and faith filled moments into people’s lives. So if it brings such positiveness and comfort then I am happy with that.
On choosing songs for the album:
Yes there were many songs I would have love to record on the album that did not make the final cut, saying that I do hope there may be opportunities to record these in the future. However, in deciding on the present 12 songs on the album, my record producers and I wanted to produce an album that had a certain Celtic sound as well as church based songs being a priest. I was so delighted to have two new songs written especially for me and of course getting permission to record Hallelujah with the new wedding words was we knew what everyone would want to hear on the album. I knew the songs Everybody Hurts and Tears in Heaven and because they have such a strong message I was delighted to be able to record them also.
On what’s next on his career as a recording artist:
Well Where I Belong has reached many of the record shops around the world as well as being available on Amazon, somI hope people will hear it and enjoy it. As regards touring, it certainly would be my dream to tour with some concerts.
On singing during mass:
Usually when I sing in Church, it is after Holy Communion so Mass is almost over except for the final prayer and blessing and after that I usually finish up with How Marvellous which is an uplifting song of praise to the Lord, so I feel people are happy with that and I never hear more and more echoing from the congregation.
On his vocal training:
I think it is fair to say that the initial training of my voice would have come from my parents Mona & Joe Kelly. Then in Dublin while working there I studied voice training in the College of Music for a number of years.
On how music shaped his life as a teenager:
Certainly I believe that music and spiritually are inseparable as I see music in liturgy as a way of glorifying God. I have always loved Gospel music and having worked in S. Africa for a few years I marvelled at the sounds many African communities could create vocally, harmony and rhythm just seemed to flow from them. As a teenager growing up I would have loved the sounds of the Big Choirs and the sounds and harmonies they create in Church.
On his title as a “Singing Priest.”
Indeed I have been called the singing priest now for many years even long before YouTube/ Hallelujah fame. However, it is used much more now. I suppose if I was a dentist, doctor, plumber or electrician I question would I be called the singing dentist, doctor, etc. I don’t think so.
So why the singing priest? The newest name I have been called is Mr Hallelujah, so I guess it goes with the territory. Anyway, I really don’t mind what I am called.
On visiting many places because of his music:
Ye the Irish are good when it comes to creating music and spiritually. Indeed, many Irish artists have conquered the world with their music. I hope I can bring my voice, my music and spirituality and simply me to the four corners of the world.
His message to the listeners:
To all who will take time to listen to my album, I say thank you for your kindness and generosity and may your listening to it carry the song of God’s heart to all of you.
That’s Father Kelly for you. It is amazing that wonderful talents happen in unexpected places(and careers). I hope we get to hear more of his new recordings in the future!