"Belfast’s Own Boy Soprano"
Billy Neely is still remembered by those privileged to hear him sing at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast. In 1947 he made his radio debut as a boy soprano in BBC Northern Ireland’s Children Hour when he earned a fee of two guineas. Further broadcasts followed and in 1948 he won the Blackpool Music Festival at the Winter Gardens and, in May 1949, the 38th Glasgow Music Festival held in St Andrews Hall. Billy left the cathedral choir to concentrate on a career as a concert artist, and was often accompanied by the internationally renowned pianist Gerald Moore.
Many broadcasts followed on the BBC including appearances on the popular magazine programme In Town Tonight and twice on Henry Hall’s Guest Night. He then toured Ireland and sang in cabaret at the Ideal Home Exhibition in Birmingham, billed as ’Belfasts Own Boy Soprano’. He also appeared with the Ormiston Choir at Westminster Central Hall in London, singing six solos. Subsequently he was awarded a three-year scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Although renowned as one of the best boy sopranos of the 20th century Billy never replayed his childhood records until relatively recently, this double album being issued as a huge suprise to celebrate his golden wedding. Now you too can listen again to the wonderful sound of a boy treble in full flow.
THe 42 tracks include many well-known favourites as well as traditional Irish ballads and classical masterpieces by Bach, Handel, Mozart, Parry and Mendelssohn