Goodness gracious, great squalls of friar... holy man Alessandro Brustenghi has become the first friar in the world to land a major record deal.
Bosses at Decca Records in Britain have signed up the Franciscan friar, who has refused any money from the deal with all proceeds going towards charitable work.
Leading record producer Mike Hedges — who has won acclaim for his work with Manic Street Preachers and The Cure — discovered the Italian tenor and has brought him to London to record.
The robed singer, who said he is “excited” by his new opportunity, is based at the original friary founded by Saint Francis of Assisi, the Porziuncola.
Hedges had been hunting for a gifted Italian tenor for a number of years and was recommended to hear Friar Alessandro, who has long been a music fan despite receiving his “calling” as a teenager, and entering the friary at the age of 21.
The 34-year-old has been making his album at Abbey Road Studios in London, and he took his first ever flight to begin recording.
International executives from Decca’s parent company Universal flew into London yesterday to hear his first performance outside Italy at a company conference.
The friar works in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi, welcoming many of the millions of visitors who flock annually, and also works as a carpenter, restoring furniture and making lecterns.
The singer loves classical composers such as Bach, Mozart and Verdi, but is also a huge fan of Michael Jackson.
Reflecting on the travels which will be necessary to promote the album, he said: “I am a bit nervous but I understand this is necessary and will contribute to the project and is a good opportunity to unleash the gospel to everyone.
I feel excited, very excited, because it’s realised my vocation.
“Music for me is a direct line with God — and is the way to communicate with him. It is the way God used to communicate with us. It is the way to spread the gospel to everybody, the world — and it is a beautiful way.”
Friar Alessandro has taken a vow of poverty and will not accept money from album sales, with proceeds going directly to the Order of Friars Minor for its charitable work.
The album is due for release in October and will feature traditional and modern sacred songs, including a new setting for a prayer written by St Francis of Assisi, on a track created by Royal wedding composer Paul Mealor.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved