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Watch this Irish priest rock British talent show with cover of R.E.M.’s ‘Everybody Hurts’

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The 64-year-old clergyman drew rare words of praise from Simon Cowell

The congregation of Oldcastle, in County Meath, applauded Father Ray Kelly as he returned victorious after his audition for Britain’s Got Talent. The 64-year-old parish priest drew high praise from the judge panel, especially from judge Simon Cowell who was quite taken by the performance, enthusing that it was “one of [his] favorite ever auditions.”

Father Ray left the room speechless after his audition on Britain’s Got Talent, an occurrence more rare than receiving four “yeses.” As his rendition of R.E.M’s “Everybody Hurts” ended, the entire auditorium was silent until Cowell led the crowd in a standing ovation. He was then universally accepted by the panel of judges.

Before the audition, Father Kelly explained to the judges why he chose the R.E.M. classic, “It’s a song that’s near and dear to my heart. Being a priest you get in touch with a lot of pain, and a lot of joy and happiness as well so I suppose, it’s a song that I can [relate to].”

When asked why he chose to sing this year, the priest explained that after a video of him singing at a wedding went viral, he felt it was the logical next step. He is also a big fan of BGT, and could not pass up a chance to sing for the Royal Family, if he makes it that far. Father Kelly also cited Susan Boyle, former BGT contestant, as his influence:

“I love Susan Boyle and one of my dreams would be to do a duet with her and sing with her because she has such an amazing voice.

“Her talent was discovered late in life, like mine, so there’s that comparison.”

Father Kelly’s performance was gentle and emotional, in fact by the end his eyes had welled with tears. What impressed us most was that he changed his voice to fit the style of music, adding a bit of rasp to imitate R.E.M.’s lead singer, John Michael Stipe. As the competition progresses, we will be interested to hear how his voice fits other pop songs. In his viral video you can hear him sing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in his full singing voice:

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