Ever since Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras made bazillions off their “Three Tenors” personas and concerts back in the 1990s, we’ve seen way too many Three Tenor knock-off groups. But despite the blatant attempt to bring back the Three Tenor magic, many of them have been more successful than they should be. Even though Il Divo is a quartet, the resemblance, influence and commerciality of The Three Tenors can’t be ignored. That group has fattened Simon Cowell’s wallet to the point where he probably can’t sit on his wallet any longer.
You also have The Three Irish Tenors who are pretty much in the same vein as The Three Tenors, except they’re all Irish rather than Italian and Spanish. And when a new trio called “The Priests” was offered a record deal, you could almost sense a lawsuit coming from the Three Irish Tenors.
Well, chances are the Irish Tenors won’t sue The Priests, because the latter group really is a group of Catholic priests who happen to have good singing voices. Plus, yes, they’re obviously Irish. For many, having a group of priests as the latest opera-singing trio out of the musical chute is another amazing chance to see the consolidation of the religious to the very secular music industry. For others, it might seem that the Catholic Church has capitulated too much to the secular music industry.
Somewhere in the middle is actually a possible interesting scenario of The Vatican perhaps attempting to repair the reputation of the Catholic priest after so many horrific sexual scandals have tainted the importance of the priest in the role of close spiritual confidants.
Who are these three priests who might be the new wave in bringing back true purity to the role of a priest? If growing up together in the same Irish community is any indication of longevity for a musical group, then these guys might have a long career. In Ballycare and Ballygowan, Ireland, two brothers (Eugene and Martin O’Hagen) and a close friend (David Delargy) began singing together as children in all the local churches in the above regions of Ireland. They eventually and logically grew up to be Catholic priests–with most of their early years having to endure hearing the press stories about their peers being brought down by open tales of sodomy and other sexual peccadilloes against children.
After 20 years of these singers being in the priesthood, you have to wonder if the current Pope might have placed a suggestion into the air that some in the priesthood should consider a part-time career in something mainstream to help repair the reputation of the priest. Certainly every late-night show monologue and/or newspaper columnist have been lampooning the priesthood as being nothing but a group of deviants. It’s even evolved to the point where something so tragic incites an uncomfortable guffaw from audiences at the late-night shows, despite hearing about new accusations of sexual abuse from former or current priests on a regular basis.
Well, according to the story of The Priests, their entrance into the mainstream music industry was of their own volition. If that’s true, then they’re certainly unconventional priests who sent off a music demo to a major label. When Sony BMG heard their voices, the label apparently figured they had a new Three Tenors jackpot–hence handing The Brothers O’Hagen and Delargy a cool $2 mil for a record deal.
When the debut of the aptly titled CD The Priests happened on November 24 here in America, the inevitable PBS special was also aired in conjunction to really sell these guys as something great for the music industry. And they just might be when classical music is already suffering in sales, has the same pool of artists, and Popera dominates the vocal category. The Priests sing strictly religious material, which makes their debut album perfectly timed for the Christmas season. With the trend turned toward people looking for meaningfulness within the secular of late, The Priests are bound to go platinum with their debut effort by the beginning of 2009. You’d also like to think that their profits will go toward helping causes rather than 100% lining their own pockets.
Nope, you couldn’t say that about The Three Tenors fifteen years ago.
It’s that ethereally spiritual sound in mainstream music that the Vatican was undoubtedly looking for in recent years. After all, the marketing behind The Priests has these guys singing like angels and presumably living similarly. When you add to that the story of how they still spend most of their time developing their jobs as priests, it only helps gain a favorable picture. Whether you choose to agree that the Vatican spearheaded The Priests or if these guys went after a music career on their own, there isn’t a doubt they had to get special permission from some authority in the first place in order to start a career in something ordinarily perceived as anti-Christian.
In order to get the complete truth of who they really are, check out the interview via CNN in the source link. These priests aren’t pretending to be holier than thou. They’re as human as human can be with a lot of secular interests within their musical tastes. If the Vatican insisted on getting the purest of the pure for this marketing campaign, it might not necessarily be here, despite these guys seemingly being decent human beings. But it’s all in the musical marketing that can be super powerful through the prism of singing and presentation.
Also, if the Vatican isn’t afraid to let these priests show a more imperfect human side, it might be a step in the right direction for accepting priests for what they are, even if they have flaws. Beforehand, adamant Catholics had too high of expectations for priests, while subsequently being let down by some of them.
For the music world, at least, it’s a recurrence of the secular with the spiritual that always goes over well with millions of people fed up with the music industry. Should it repair the picture of the priest at least a little for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, the Vatican and its likely secret marketing force will have all the superiors smiling and nodding to one another as the money starts to roll in, along with a new generation joining the church…