Hump Day: Sometimes it really pays off to just go with your instincts

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I have a YouTube channel and have uploaded a number of videos. Some are weather related. Some are pet related. I even posted a recipe. There are also uploads of old family movies that I had converted digitally from 8mm film.

The recipe video has done quite well, as have a few others, but one in particular went viral as soon as I uploaded it on June 15, 2010, and in the past week has gained nearly one million views thanks to some good luck not of my own doing! Yes, one million! By the time you read this, it will likely have surpassed the 1.5 million mark.

My cousin Kelley Mooney is a talented singer who fronts a couple of bands on P.E.I. where she lives in Charlottetown with her husband. She had come out with a cassette (yes, a cassette) years ago, but decided to release a CD in 2011. Over the years, she’s played a few times in Moncton, once at the old church in Beaumont during a summer concert series, once at the Moncton Press Club opening for Catherine MacLellan, and, of course, there was her incredible performance of her spiritual lyrical adaptation of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah which she performed with Monette Gould’s Chorale Voce dell’Anima choir on June 1, 2010, at the Monument Lefebvre in Memramcook.

Kelley Mooney and Brian Cormier
Kelley Mooney and Brian Cormier

How Kelley’s version came about is that she was asked by her parish priest in Iona, P.E.I., to sing Hallelujah one year during Easter mass. Now, it should be said that just because a song has the word ‘hallelujah’ in it doesn’t mean it’s suitable for church. This was the case this time, because when Kelley read the lyrics more closely, she was quite certain that the modern song didn’t belong in Easter Sunday mass.

With that said, wanting to please the priest, she got to work adapting the song to the Easter message, keeping the tune but changing the words to a much more religious meaning that was directly related to Easter.

The results spoke for themselves. The song was a big hit and it became a regular part of her repertoire. She eventually got the official rights to perform the lyrical adaptation and the legend goes that Leonard Cohen himself gave the thumbs up to her version when he heard it. (At least that’s what she was told by ‘someone in the know.’)

I decided on the day of her Memramcook performance that I’d record it for posterity. In the back of my mind, I thought maybe it would go viral. Mind you, I had no idea if it really would, but I thought I’d try, at least. After looking around town for a new high-definition video camera, I decided that my ‘terrible little digital camera’ (as it is now known) would have to do. Even in 2010, technology was very expensive. Since then, prices have come down, but I nearly spent $1,000 just to properly record the performance, hence the decision to go with what I already owned.

I came to my senses, though, and proceeded to record the performance by simply holding my ‘terrible little digital camera’and pointing at the stage in the darkened room. My hands were shaking a bit because of the angle at which I had to hold the camera. If you’ve seen the video, that’s why the video quality is not great.

To say the least, the performance went well. Kelley got an immediate standing ovation and the crowd went wild with applause and cheering. It was one of those magical musical moments. You just had to be there. I decided then and there after seeing the crowd’s reaction that I’d be uploading the performance to YouTube. Let’s try this out! But first, I had to get permission from Kelley and Monette.

Both agreed immediately, but Monette insisted on having the professionally recorded soundtrack replace the soundtrack that would have been recorded on my ‘terrible little digital camera.’ I shake my head, because at the time I thought she was being a bit silly. But I listened to her and took her advice. I should have never questioned her wisdom. Monette knew what she was doing. Never doubt a pro!

The sound technician working at the concert that evening was kind enough to replace my recording’s low-quality mono soundtrack with the professionally recorded version – the one you hear on the video if you watch it. Needless to say, it sounded amazing. Without that soundtrack, the video would have certainly been relegated to the trash heap of banal YouTube videos that are a dime a dozen. The star of the video is the soundtrack. It certainly wasn’t the grainy video footage itself.

When it hit YouTube, it started to gain in popularity as people watched and shared. Over the years, it would climb in views thanks to people sharing it on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, or simply emailing the link to friends and family. A couple of weeks before Easter this year, the video had reached 520,000 views. Not bad for a video recorded locally!

But the Internet is a funny thing. If just the right website shares something, a video can have a second viral life. When posted the video on April 15, the video exploded in views, earning nearly one million more views in seven days. Since then, Kelley’s been inundated with emails and requests for the lyrics from around the world.

When I was sitting in my chair in the auditorium on that June night in 2010, holding my so-called ‘terrible little camera’and recording Kelley and the choir, I never guessed how the video would do. I learned a lesson that day: sometimes you just have to go with your gut feeling in life, trust your intuition and hope for a little help along the way. And that, my friends, gets a big old “Hallelujah!” from me!

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