9-year-old Justin Kiely-May from Dublin was diagnosed with autism when he’s only 3 years old. He loves music a lot, but he struggled, especially with high-pitched music. Justin wears ear defenders, so loud noises and music won’t upset him.
Andrea, Justin’s mother, caught his son singing to the song Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen one day, and the singing abilities of his son stunned her. Andrea filmed Justin performing the poetic spiritual song, and Justin’s uncle Brandon Craig, uploaded the performance on Twitter last September 16. Justin’s performance went viral quickly.
The video gained 14,000 retweets and 83,000 likes and counting. The song itself is beautiful and has been rendered several times already by musical icons like Jeff Buckley, Willie Nelson, and John Cale. There are also memorable renditions of the song on YouTube. Justin’s version is heartwarming, mainly because he has autism, and the message of the song is apt for his condition.
Justin is smiling as he croons a pitch-perfect performance of the tune. Brandon wrote a caption to his post, ‘My nephew only nine years of age, cause of his autism he can’t listen to a lot of songs but when he likes a song he knows how to sing, gonna be a superstar.’
Thousands of people have watched the video, and almost all of them said something about the potential of Justin becoming a star. Twitter subscriber Lauren Dumble wrote, ‘What a gorgeous voice! I need to hear more of this!’ Catherina Blewitt expressed, ‘Oh, that just made my day! Wonderful.’ Billy Killen commented, ‘As a parent of a child with autism, that hit me for six.’
Andrea recently heard the version of Alexandra Burke on radio and became attracted to the song immediately. Andrea said she’s happy that a lot of people love his son’s performance.
Andrea said, ‘He got to know Hallelujah, and one day I heard him sing along to the song, so I turned the music down and just listened and recorded him. ‘I can’t look at his little face without wanting to cry, happy tears, of course. He’s just such a pure loving little boy, and I’m so glad that now people get to see what I see. He was born to perform. He has so much confidence.’
Andrea said Justin also sings Tina Turner’s Proud Mary and Lady Gaga’s Shallow.