Not only did I have the amazing privilege of helping orchestrate Emmanuel Kelly’s first concert in the USA …
…..It was Eman’s FIRST concert ever!
The world knows Emmanuel for his inspiring X-Factor Australia audition clip “Imagine” by John Lennon, a clip that is just shy of 8 Million views on YouTube. The story of being born in Iraq under chemical warfare conditions resulting in Emmanuel and his older brother Ahmed born without limbs. The story is told of being found in a shoe box, rescued and placed in Mother Teresa’s orphanage to be raised by nuns. Emmanuel later tells us “being found in a shoe box” is a term used for abandoned. Across the way in Australia, founder of the Children First Foundation, Moira Kelly heard about these two adorable boys in Iraq. Emmanuel describes the first time seeing Moira entering the room; “It was like seeing an angel.” Of course she fell in love with the boys. After two years of red tape, Moira was finally able to bring the boys to her home in Australia and start them on their journey of surgeries, prosthetics and encouragement to follow their DrEaMs.
In October 2012, I was exposed to the inspiring-tear-jerker video clip of Emmanuel Kelly’s X-Factor audition clip on facebook and had to “share” it on my FB wall. I watched it over and over. About a week later, my boss, author/speaker Kevin Hall called me with a new assignment; to tract down the contact info for Emmanuel Kelly. Kevin felt impressed to invite Emmanuel to sing at the upcoming Genshai Life Mastery Retreat in Coronado Island January 5-7 2013. I found this assignment to be a little more difficult than a previous assignment given only five days early which was to connect Kevin with Immaculée Ilibagiza, the survivor of the Rwanda Genocide and author of “Left To Tell”. It took only 3 days to make the connection and get a reply response from Immaculée. (that’s another incredible story for another blog) Finding Emmanuel was a little tougher….not as much to go on since Emmanuel has not written a book, did not have a speaking agent, no place of employment, Facebook page etc …all the leads I used to track down Immaculée – didn’t apply to Emmanuel.
What I did have going for me was that 30 years ago while attending school in Hawaii I met a news reporter, Rick Arden, from Australia who is still a news anchor for Channel 7 Perth. “Perfect” I thought, “If a news reporter was given the assignment to ‘find’ someone …they would act like the world depended on it and get the job done.” I shot Rick an email with my request and waited and waited and waited for a reply. hmmm…..plan B. I then emailed every news station in Australia and FINALLY got a response from ABC News giving me the info to Emmanuel Kelly’s mother Moira Kelly’s charity foundation. Bingo! I emailed Moira, who promptly replied. Kevin was then able to call and speak Moira on the phone for 30 minutes and sealed the deal to fly Emmanuel to the Genshai Life Mastery Retreat. Woot! Woot! Side note: the next day came the reply from Rick…thank you Rick, but one day late. 🙂
Once in Coronado it took only a fraction of a second to fall in love with the boy with the amazing voice, witty sense of humor and maturity beyond his teen years. Emmanuel “hung out” with the six teens at the retreat, five teens had won the opportunity to be there from entering an essay contest “Imagine If….” and the sixth teen was my daughter who was not eligible to enter the contest….just fortunate to come:) My husband and I were the lucky teen chaperones, therefore spent a lot of quality time with Emmanuel.
Little did we know that when we said our good-byes it didn’t really mean good-bye. The following week brought a series of events which lead to Emmanuel Kelly and his assistant Peter staying in our home, and with only a few days notice we were able to facilitate all the details needed to put on a concert. A special thanks to Laurie Olson, industrial film director and my India traveling buddy, for using her magic to book the Scera Theater in Orem, Utah for not one, but TWO concerts.
Emmanuel was a joy to have in our home. Those that were able to see Emmanuel LIVE for his first ever Concert’ were privileged to be entertained by this talented, humorous, can-do-anything young man for 90 minutes.
My life has been forever touched by this amazing young man! My NEXT goal and personal assignment: To meet his AMAZING mother Moira Kelly.