In 2007, music producer, Sharon Browne, who was the manager of the hugely successful Irish female group, Celtic Woman, held auditions for Celtic Thunder.
Browne and composer, Phil Coulter were looking for five male vocalists who would be good enough to emulate the success of Celtic Woman.
Thousands of singers across Ireland and Scotland auditioned for a place, but Ryan Kelly was called back for a second audition. He was successful.
He and his Celtic Thunder band mates spent months rehearsing before their first concert – at the Helix in Dublin with the Celtic Concert Orchestra.
They went down a storm and the audience really took to them. Since then they have gone from strength to strength.
In five years, they released eight albums, and completed several North American tours in which they have performed in front of hundreds of thousands of people.
Celtic Thunder become hugely successful
The band’s performances involve the members getting into character for the various songs they perform. It is an area where Kelly’s acting ability has proved essential.
Browne nicknamed him her ‘Dark Destroyer’ as he is able to effortlessly switch from playing a ‘Mr Nice Guy’ one minute to a dastardly villain the next.
March 17th 2009 was a particular highlight of Celtic Thunder’s career to date, even for such a successful band.
They opened the New York St Patrick’s Day Parade and later sang at the White House for President Obama and his wife, Michelle.
Kelly said: “It was amazing to meet the Obamas – they seemed very down to earth. And it was such an honour to perform for them in one of the most famous buildings in the world!”
Kelly released his debut solo album, In Time, in 2010. It was a hit with fans and critics. He was awarded ‘Top Solo Performer in Concert’ by the Irish Musical Association.
Kelly embarked on a US tour, called ‘Acoustic by candlelight’, in May 2012.