Father Ray Kelly, a Parish Priest of Oldcastle in Ireland, received a standing ovation and very high praise from Simon Cowell who said it was his “favourite audition ever”.
The 64-year-old sang a version of REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts. He explained to the judges that the song was close to his heart as he’s seen a lot of pain, joy and happiness.
He got four yes’ from the judges, with Amanda Holden joking that he had “the whole congregation behind him”.
And those watching at home had a lot to say online, with many praising his performance.
“I was singing at a wedding four years ago at home in my parish,” he explained, “and it went viral on YouTube. The phone started ringing. ‘Father Ray, you’re a thousand hits, two thousand hits, and went on and on and on.’” He was 60 years old at the time and couldn’t believe what was happening!
When he walked on stage wearing his clerical collar, Simon Cowell quickly asked him why he decided to try out. “Well, I thought maybe I’d be the first singing priest maybe to win ‘Britain’s Got Talent.’” He then revealed that he’d be singing R.E.M.’s hit song “Everybody Hurts.”
“It’s a song that’s kind of near and dear to my heart,” he said. “Being a priest, you get in touch with a lot of pain and a lot of joy and happiness as well.”
And with that, he started singing. Judges were immediately immersed in his simple but emotive performance.
“Father Ray,” he began, “I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, to be honest with you, but I’m going to tell you something. This is one of my favorite-ever auditions.” Check out the entire performance down below to see exactly why this audition hit Simon so hard and share with everyone you know who loves goodness, faith, and music!