A musical journey

A musical journey


June 10th, 2011

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Five years after being asked to sing Hallelujah in church, Kelley Mooney secures lyrical adaptation rights, lauches her first CD on June 12th.


When Kelley Mooney was asked to sing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah during Easter Sunday mass in 2006, she went searching for music. “I compare it to singing Silent Night. You think you know the words but really you don’t,” laughs the P.E.I. singer-songwriter.

Howver, after finding the score she was in a bit of a quandary. “The lyrics weren’t quite suitable for church,” says Mooney, who turned to a liturgy booklet that contained Holy Week Scriptures about Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection for inspiration.

Poring over the words, she starting transposing the texts into lyrics.

“After completing the first couple of verses, I called Mom and Dad and ran it past them. They thought it was very accurate. So I wrote two more verses and called them again. Then I wrote the last verse,” says Mooney, who is launching her CD that includes her own adaptation of Hallelujah at the Olde Dublin Pub in Charlottetown on June 12 at 7pm.

After taking an evening to complete the song and another week to rehearse it, she sand the song, as promised, at St. Michael’s Church in Iona.

The parishioners loved it so much that word about her lyrical adaptation got out. Soon she was receiving requests to sing Hallelujah at funerals and church services.

When she sang it before 2,000 people at the Charlottetown Civic Centre during the Belfast Revival in 2007, organized by St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Belfast, the audience gave her a standing ovation.

“But I didn’t know about it until the next day because I had bolted off the stage,” she says, with a laugh.

Everywhere she went the demand for the song grew.

“Everyone wanted to buy my CD, but I didn’t have one to give them,” she says.

In 2010 she received a request from a voice instructor who was putting on a spring concert with her choir at the Memramcook Institute in New Brunswick. Again she agreed to sing.

But her cousin Brian Cormier had additional plans. When we heard that Mooney would be performing Hallelujah with the choir, he asked her if he could record it for YouTube.

“I thought it had potential for going viral,” says the Moncton, N.B., man during an interview.

Intead of using the sound from his camera he got the audio from the technician who was working that night. The superior recording captured Mooney’s voice as well as the sweet harmonies of the choir.

Cormier added the sound and posted the video on YouTube in June 2010.

“The last time I checked it had 354,096 hits. It’s both wonderful and overwhelming,” says Mooney whose decision to finally record a CD with her version of the song was made after securing the lyrical adaptation rights from Cohen through the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights AgencY (CMRRA).

“The whole procedure took a year less two days. It cost a mind-blowing $25,” she says.

With the copyright issue settled, she moved forward to finish recording her CD entitled Tomorrow with Jon Matthews of Big Grey Sound Studio.

Last week she sent a copy of the CD and a letter of appreciation to Cohen. “I wanted to send him a cosmic thank you for writing Hallelujah and then allowing me, through granting the lyrical adaptation to present my re-written effort to the world. I hope he gets back to me someday.”

– Stage Door by Sally Cole