Not only did I have the 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.
About three months ago I was exposed to the inspiring, tear jerker video clip on facebook and had to “share” it on my FB wall. I watched it over and over. A week later, my boss, author/speaker Kevin Hall called me with an assignment:…..to find Emmanuel Kelly! Kevin felt impressed to invite Emmanuel to sing at the Genshai Life Mastery Retreat in Coronado Island January 5-7. I found this a little more difficult than a previous assignment given only five days early to find Immaculée Ilibagiza, survivor of the Rwanda Genocide, author of “Left To Tell” and now living in New York City…It took only 3 days to 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….he is a minor, has not written a book, no speaking agent, no place of employment..all the leads I used to track down Immaculée, didn’t apply to Emmanuel. What I did have going for me was 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….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 ONE…ABC News giving me the info to his mother Moira’s foundation, which led to her contact info, which led to Kevin speaking to Moira on the phone for 30 minutes and a promise to have Emmanuel on a plane with his Godfather Peter to sing at 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. Through a fast series of events, the next week brought Emmanuel and his assistant Peter to stay in our home, and in only a few days we were able to not only orchestrate a facility to house a live concert for Emmanuel, but all the details needed to put on a concert…..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.