Father Ray Kelly sang a ‘Hallelujah’ cover earlier this month that was meant to be a surprise for the bride and groom at a wedding, but has instead turned the Irish priest into a surprise celebrity himself.
Video of the performance, delivered at Oldcastle church in Meath, Ireland, was uploaded to YouTube and quickly went viral. The clip of Father Ray Kelly singing “Hallelujah” is now approaching 30 million views, and the priest himself has gotten quite the attention for it.
He has been interviewed by countless news outlets, made appearances on television, and even been called on to take up a professional singing career.
Though he looked comfortable in front of the crowd, Father Kelly said the attention has been strange.
“This morning, I was on Polish television over Skype and I did an interview with New Zealand radio, I’m doing a magazine interview later and a television crew is coming down today to film a documentary,” he told BBC. “I’m handling it with ease at the moment, but it’s Holy Week – the biggest week in the church’s calendar – so it’s quite a bit of pressure to work around the parish life while dealing with all the media attention.”
Father Kelly is no stranger to singing. In fact, he was in the midst of recording his second charity album when the YouTube clip of his “Hallelujah” performance went viral.
“I was recording it at a local guy’s amateur studio but that may have to change now – a bigger organization has booked me up,” he said. “The first two albums are nearly sold out now, because there were only so many copies printed.”
The “Hallelujah” clip has brought already Father Kelly to bigger venues. On Friday, he appeared on Irish television channel RTE’s The Late, Late Show and discussed why he thinks the performance has been so popular.
“It’s that the couple wasn’t expecting it, and the reaction of the congregation, because they weren’t expecting it, either,” he says. “They thought I was miming, until I mentioned the names Leah and Chris. There were a lot of elbows, ‘it’s the priest!’ ”
Father Ray Kelly also sung “Hallelujah” for the audience, to thunderous applause.