He is known for his energetic and charismatic performances, whether it’s with Celtic Thunder, during his solo concerts or while acting in stage musicals like Blood Brothers.
With Celtic Thunder he has performed in front of hundreds of thousands of people, including US President Barack Obama, and is now embarking on a solo career as a singer songwriter. He has also been performing acoustic concerts with his Celtic Thunder colleague, Neil Byrne
Singing since he was a child
He was born in The Moy, Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland. His father was an accomplished musician and young Ryan inherited his dad’s love of music.
He has been singing since he was a very young child and gave his first public performance aged seven when he sang at his First Communion.
He has always loved performing and when he was a child he would sing whenever he could. His dad would often play the organ to accompany him.
He developed a love and a talent for many different types of music including soft rock and big show tunes but he always had a soft spot for traditional Irish music.
When he was a teenager he learned to play guitar and started writing his own songs.
Ryan Kelly – talented actor
Ryan Kelly – on his work
He has a great bond with his fans and they can be inspired by each other’s enthusiasm at concerts.
He said: “It’s clichéd, but music is my life. It’s what makes me happy and I feel blessed to be able to call this my job.”
He went to Queen’s University in Belfast to study accounting. He got a job as a charted accountant but music was his first love and he carried on playing in a band called Emergency Exit.
As well as singing, Kelly has also shown a talent for acting. He has performed in the lead role of Mickey Johnstone in ‘Blood Brothers’ and played Judas Iscariot in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.
When Kelly was 24, he took part in the BBC talent show called Country Cool. He made it to the final after receiving 70% of the audience vote. He eventually finished second in the competition out of thousands who entered.
He won SCOR, another singing contest, four years later and went on to perform with some of the biggest names in Irish and UK pop including Simply Red, Westlife and Girls Aloud. He shared a stage with them for a ‘Children in Need’ charity concert in Belfast.
Kelly had come a long way from singing songs while his dad played the organ, but his biggest break was about to come.