Fr Ray Kelly on BGT's semi-final on Friday.

Record deal possible for Fr Ray following BGT appearance

All is not lost as Fr Ray Kelly says there may be a possibility of a record deal following his appearance on Britain's Got Talent.

The Oldcastle parish priest narrowly missed out on a spot in Sunday's final following an uplifting performance of Go Rest High On That Mountain, originally performed by Vince Gill whose brother died of a drug overdose.

"I got it soon after my own sister died of esophageal cancer and I sing it now in church, and at funerals, and sometimes I sing it in concert particularly for people who have gone through bereavement and loss of loved ones from cancer," the Tyrrellspass native told the panel of judges on Friday night.

Despite very positive comments from all the judges, with Amanda Holden saying Fr Ray had won his congregation over - with the 4,000 in the Apollo giving him a standing ovation, and Simon Cowell saying he had received so much positive feedback for his initial audition of Everybody Hurts, adding on Friday, "When you lifted the song in the second part it was really glorious" Cowell commented, adding that he really thought Fr Ray deserved a place in the live final.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner following his BGT appearance, Fr Ray who talked of "loving to dream" as a teenager growing up in Ireland, says he has hopes a record deal could be a possibility in the months to come.

"It's been a great experience right from when it started in early January. That's nearly five months now and I was over and back to London for vocal coaching and choosing which song would work best. ITV and FremantleMedia who did the whole production were very professional and hospitable and they looked after me so well, it was great to be involved in it all," he explained.

"Everybody Hurts and Go Rest High [on that Mountain], a lot of people were touched by those songs, so it was great to be able to reach so many with my music," he continued, explaining that the latter song choice was for his late sister Regina McMahon who died of cancer at 59, leaving behind a husband and young family.

Fr Ray had lots of support from family in the audience in the night, including his brother Joe Kelly who was there with his daughter Lorraine Polgar, two nieces Gillian Weston and Amy McMahon, as well as his cousins - the Finnegans from Kill in County Kildare.

"It was great to have them there in the audience, and for socialising afterwards and meeting up with them. We didn't get to meet Simon or any of the judges, the only interaction I had with him was across the panel during the live semi-final. I did meet Dec (Donnelly) a few times, for rehearsal and that, and he'd have little chats with you. He and his wife are expecting their first child and his brother is a priest too, so he'd know something about the religious life."

Fr Ray says he was a little nervous ahead of singing live on national television, with over 6 million watching at home, but there was so much going on he didn't have time to think.

"I was a little bit nervous about an hour before the show, but there's so much going on you don't nearly have time to be nervous. I couldn't settle myself but everybody was in the same boat, there was a lot of pacing up and down, and then you'd get dragged over for photos, or told where to stand and when you'd be on, so there was all that going on as well. 

"And then once I got started on the song I settled. I was so pleased with the two choirs and it was a great production for what was a two and half minute song."

And while Fr Ray didn't make it through to the final, chances of a record deal are on the table.
"We'll see what happens down the road, I would love to see something come out of it, I really would."

But for now, Fr Ray who was flying home to Ireland on Monday, was looking forward to returning to his parish of Oldcastle to celebrate.

"There was BGT parties happening in various different houses and at home in Tyrrellspass during the semi-final, and I think there may be some sort of a homecoming party set up for tonight when I get back to the parish in Oldcastle. I've had a few phone calls asking me when I'd be home and what time I was getting in at. I'm looking forward to getting back to see everybody, and my two dogs of course too - Biddy and Buddy.

"I'd like to say a big thank you to everyone, particularly to those who voted at home in Ireland. I understand that people could only use a landline to vote, and not a mobile phone, so if that was the case I would have lost out on a lot of votes because a lot of people only have mobile phones these days. But hopefully this is not the end of the line and there will be more to come down the road.

"I'd also like to say thank you to everyone at home in Tyrrellspass and all in that neck of the woods for their messages of support."

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