Feel the warmth of AN IRISH CHRISTMAS BLESSING by Fr Ray Kelly

Feel the warmth of AN IRISH CHRISTMAS BLESSING by Fr Ray Kelly

Father Ray Kelly Chrstimas cd cover

If An Irish Christmas Blessing is a solar system, then Make Me a Channel of Your Peace has to be sun, drawing all planets to its gravity. It is a track that’s timely as the world needs something to hold on to especially in these troubled times. An Irish Christmas Blessing recalls the auspicious debut of Father Ray Kelly almost a year ago. This happened when he sang at the wedding of Chris and Leah O’Kane on April 5th 2014 which blew the internet after it was captured and posted on You Tube.

I am listening to the title track while writing this. It brings back a lot of good feelings. Like when I was in high school and I was a teenager again haunting for good holiday albums in record stores. The classic style represents the ‘feel’ of the whole album. There is nostalgia and a sense of adventure.

His style of singing is unique. Not Gregorian or operatic. He sounds close to Elvis Costello but with a rich upper register and nuance where it is needed. In O Holy Night, he gives his all hitting those rich notes at the end of the song. The album’s orchestration is superb. I love orchestras and An Irish Christmas Blessing is a treat for those who love grand arrangements but with a modern twist.

Father Kelly  will be donating a percentage of the profits of the sales of this album and his live concerts to the Kiltegan Fathers St Patrick’s Missionary Society. It’s where he started his journey as a Catholic priest.Below is a brief interview made possible by my good friend Anita Daly of Daly Communications:

 

Hi Father Kelly, you must be ecstatic that your Christmas album is finally out! Why did you choose An Irish Christmas Blessing as the album’s title?

Yes I am very excited about the Christmas album and indeed the final production of it. When I heard the song An Irish Christmas Blessing, I fell in love with the melody and the words immediately. And in deciding a title for the album I thought there it is, the title, the first song on the Album. I guess being an Irish Man and firmly planted in my roots it was the ideal title.

What are your favorite songs in this album?

I love all Christmas music so I really love all the songs. However, when I heard my completed version of Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace, I just thought it was so prayerful and haunting, so I guess it is one of my top 3. But I love O Holy Night as I feel hearing that song at Christmas is so special and necessary. As for the song The Little Drummer Boy, I do think the arrangement of that is super. All my grand nieces and nephews are constantly listening to that one and tell me it is their favourite.

You employed an orchestra to record the thirteen songs (by the way it’s my lucky number). How did you decide to record with an orchestra plus choir instead of just the usual piano, drums, bass and synths?

I was very fortunate that Nigel Wright in the UK agreed to produce my Christmas Album, as he is up there among the top record producers in the world, so I was totally guided by him as to what was needed to create a great album.

Some of the songs are vocally challenging! But you glide through them gracefully. Do you record in one take or did you experience having to decide between two versions of then same song?

Nigel made me work very hard, he knew I could create the sound he wanted. So it took a lot more than one take in most of the songs. But that is not unusual, and having heard the final production I can understand why it took some time.

You will be donating a percentage of the profits of the sales of this album and his live concerts to the Kiltegan Fathers St Patrick’s Missionary Society right?

Yes, Kiltegan Fathers, or St Patrick’s Missionary Society will benefit from the sale of my CD and concerts. When I decided to become a priest, I joined The Kiltegan Fr’s in Co Wicklow. So they educated me for 7 years and had a huge say in my formation as a Catholic Priest. I spent a couple of years on the Mission Field in S.Africa, however I decided I wanted to work at home eventually. I always said if I could every give something back to them for all they did for me even in a small way I would, little did I realise that an opportunity like this would come my way.

What’s your biggest wish this Christmas?

My biggest wish this Christmas is that my younger sister who is quite ill will make a complete recovery. Now that would be Christmas for me.

There you go 🙂 Bax

Slan, best wishes, Merry Christmas

Fr Ray

 

And I wish your younger sister a complete recovery as well Father Kelly.

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Quick Questions with Irish Singing Sensation Father Ray Kelly.

Quick Questions with Irish Singing Sensation Father Ray Kelly.

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. 61zU45EZs0L
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!
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