Dressed in his cleric garb, Father Ray Kelly stunned judges on "Britain's Got Talent" this week. The Catholic priest chose REM's "Everybody Hurts" as his song choice. The song was chosen because Kelly could identify with the hurts many in his church faced. Simon Cowell was so affected by the performance that he shed tears, added that the 64-year-old's performance was one of his "favorite ever auditions."
The performance instantly went viral online, being viewed millions of times on YouTube and Facebook. Even the band REM commented on the performance.
"Simon told me they had never had a priest on the show before, so I am the first priest - and the first singing priest," Kelly said, according to Irish Mirror. "And when Simon stood up and said it was the best audition he'd ever heard, I was like, 'Gosh, to hear that from Simon Cowell is something.' I was shaking. It was amazing.
"To me, BGT is one of the biggest shows in the world. It's very, very exciting to be on it.
The priest came to the public's notice when in April 2014, a video surfaced on YouTube of an unassuming Catholic priest singing the classic "Hallelujah" at a wedding ceremony. Father Ray Kelly renders the song in near pitch-perfection, letting slip an impish grin at one point when the impressed audience's titters become audible.
Following his rise to viral fame, Kelly had a contract with Universal, which ended in 2015, following the release of Where I Belong the previous year. He also recorded a 13-track Christmas album and has been on a 2-week US tour.