Girl with autism praised for Christmas version of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah'

The alternative lyrics were written by the Christian rock band Cloverton

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A 10-year-old girl from Northern Ireland has gone viral after a video of her singing a variation on Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' for her school choir performance was posted on Facebook.

Kaylee Rodgers, from Donaghadee, County Down, has autism and ADHD, and began singing as a way to build her confidence.

The video of her singing the Killard House school choir's version of 'Hallelujah' has attracted more than 100,000 views from people around the world.

It was originally posted by parent Nichola Martin, who was proud of her son Blake who also took part in the choir. 

Kaylee told ITV that she was excited just to be singing, but that it was also "amazing" that the video had received so much attention.

"I just loved doing it," she said. 

Colin Millar, head teacher at Killard House, said: "For a child who came in P4 and would really talk, couldn't really read out in class, to stand and perform in front of an audience is amazing.

"It takes a lot of effort on Kaylee's part."

The alternative lyrics sung by Kaylee were written by contemporary Christian rock band Cloverton, who are based in Manhattan, Kansas. 

Their version - which was posted on YouTube in 2014 but muted due to reported copyright issues with Sony Columbia - sparked a debate at the time over whether it was disrespectful to change Cohen's lyrics to suit a Christian message, since Cohen was Jewish.

Cohen's opening lyrics: "Well I heard there was a secret chord/That David played and it pleased the Lord/But you don't really care for music, do you?" were changed by the band to: "I've heard about this baby boy/Who's come to earth to bring us joy/And I just want to sing this song to you," and so on for the duration of the song.

Frontman Lance Stafford told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at the time that "no disrespect to Leonard Cohen was meant".

"When we rewrote the lyrics, I had no idea Leonard Cohen was Jewish," he said. "We didn't perceive it as a song celebrating Jewish culture or written for Jewish people."

Leonard Cohen died in his sleep aged 82 after a fall in the night on 7 November 2016, after a career spanning five decades. He released his 14th studio album You Want It Darker on 21 October of the same year.