Derry TV singing sensation Ben Kelly wowed thousands of revellers at the Queen Elizabeth II’s Stormont garden party this week.
And like fellow Derry man Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness the 22 year-old star of BBC’s talent show ‘The Voice’ even got to shake hands with the British monarch at an earlier visit to the Lyric theatre in Belfast.
Speaking to the ‘Sunday’, the Culmore man said he was “honoured” to be a part of the Co-operation Ireland event at the Lyric and delighted to meet her. “I was very humbled, it was a very special moment. I got to meet the President Michael D Higgins first and then the Queen, it was surreal. She seemed genuinely interested and asked me ‘what to you do’ and I told her I’d been on the talent show ‘The Voice’, she replied ‘Oh, I know that’. I told her I was involved in working in the City of Culture team by writing the song ‘Home’ and she said ‘that’s next year isn’t it?’.
“She met Brian Kennedy next who told her he would be performing later and then she turned back and pointed at me as if to say ‘will you be performing as well?’ and I nodded. She was so pleasant and happy, it was a great moment.”
Ben was bowled over by the host of VIPs at Stormont for what he described as “a magnificent day to be a part of”.
During a 45 minute slot at Stormont, Ben performed ‘Hope’ - which he wrote as a special commission for Derry’s Culture Company - several original songs of his own, a few cover versions and even got the crowd involved in singalongs.
“It was a massive crowd, I didn’t know what to expect - there were 22,000 people in the grounds and also a lot of people on the surrounding hills. It was huge, definitely the biggest thing I’ve ever done.”
Earlier this year, the Derry man’s performances saw viewing figures for the ‘The Voice’ series peak at 9.86million viewers.
Following his TV success, the former Lumen Christi pupil was commissioned by Derry’s Culture Company to pen the official City of Culture song ‘Home’ for the 2013 celebrations.