Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland singing sensation Kaylee wows black tie Boston ball with rendition of Hallelujah

By Brett Campbell

A singing schoolgirl from Co Down has stunned an American audience at the Boston Winter Ball after she stole the show with a live performance of Hallelujah.

Kaylee Rogers (10) received a standing ovation when she reduced those attending the lavish ceremony to tears.

Speaking after she returned home from the United States, the Killard House pupil said: "I wasn't nervous at all, I just love doing it. It makes me feel happy that I'm doing it for everyone, they came over and they had a lot of happy tears."

When Kaylee moved to Killard House in primary four, she struggled to talk and read out loud in class because she has autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but it quickly became apparent that she had no problem singing.

The primary seven pupil captured hearts around the world in December when a video of her singing in the school's Christmas concert went viral.

The recording of her adaptation of Hallelujah has been viewed by millions of people online.

Principal of Killard House, Colin Millar, said Kaylee's cover of the Leonard Cohen song evoked a lot of emotion in the grand ballroom of the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel.

He said: "When she took to the stage in her Killard House uniform an amazed silence engulfed the room. The next four-and-a-half minutes were pure magic as she sang beautifully to an entranced audience and brought grown men to tears."

Mr Millar described the audience's reaction as "the perfect tribute to the angelic voice of this 10-year-old Killard House pupil".

The Boston Winter Ball caters to socially-minded young professionals in the city and has established itself as one of the most anticipated events in its social calendar.

The beneficiary of this year's ninth annual black tie event was the Corey C Griffin Foundation, a charity which supports philanthropic causes, particularly those that serve young people.

Mr Steven Greeley, a friend of the Griffin family, was one of the many people around the world who watched Kaylee's video at Christmas. He believed she represented the guiding principles of the foundation so he quickly contacted the school to arrange for Kaylee to sing live at the ball.

The Corey C Griffin Foundation was launched in the summer of 2014 when 27-year-old Corey Griffin died in a tragic accident in Nantucket - a small isolated island off Cape Cod in Massachusetts - just a day after he had raised $100,000 (£80,300) for his Boston College friend Pete Frates' initiative to raise money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Pete, who was diagnosed with the disease in March 2012, is credited as the person who started the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Corey has been referred to as the co-founder of the phenomenon which went viral on social media during the summer in which he died. Boston businessman, Arthur S DeMoulas, was recognised at the event and received an award celebrating his focus on philanthropic work.

Executive director of the Corey C Griffin Foundation, Melissa Bowman, said: "Mr DeMoulas greatly admires Kaylee's courage and perseverance to overcome adversity and sharing the evidence of that through her beautiful voice was one of the highlights of the evening.

"We understand that she hasn't performed publicly outside her school in Northern Ireland and we were delighted to welcome her to the United States to share her talent here."

Kaylee, who is normally very shy, has been growing in confidence through singing and has been praised by her school principal for embodying the ethos of the special needs school in Donaghadee.

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