Emmanuel Kelly’s story has touched so many Australians and tens of thousands of viewers around the world with his X Factor Australia 2011 September 8 audition performance of John Lennon’s Imagine.
Emmanuel, an Australian originally from Iraq, wowed judges Ronan Keating, Spice Girl Mel Brown, Natalie Bassingthwaighte and Guy Sebastian with his heartfelt performance, earning a standing ovation from them as well as the packed audience.
Emmanuel is 17 years old but he doesn’t actually know the exact date he was born. Emmanuel and his brother Ahmed were adopted by Children First Foundation boss Moira Kelly from Iraq, both suffering limb deficiencies as a result of chemical warfare. Ms Kelly is also the guardian of the once-conjoined Bangladeshi twins, Krishna and Trishna.
Ronan Keating was full of praise for Emmanuel who has now moved into the next round of competition.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been moved as I was by that performance,” he said.
Emmanuel said it was “more than magic” to be on X Factor”.
“Words could not describe what I was feeling on that stage,” he said.
“When I got up and started singing, there was nothing else. Adrenalin just took over. It was just a blur.”
Emmanuel said his damaged limbs had not held him back and that he was not looking for sympathy.
“I have actually been through nothing compared to some of the other kids I have met and mum has brought out,” he said.
“I don’t want people to look at it (his performance) and go: ‘Wow that is brave.’ I want people to look at me and go, ‘Wow, he has got a really good voice’ or ‘Wow, he is going to go far in life,’ not, ‘Wow, that is brave for him to do that’.”
Yoko Ono, widow of John Lennon, has this message for Emmanuel Kelly:
Thank you, Emmanuel. You sang beautifully!
Thank you. John would have been proud of you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.