Singing nun seeks to spread gospel via The Voice

Sister Cristina Scuccia eyes Psy record

Singing nun seeks to spread gospel via The Voice

(By Denis Greenan). Rome, March 25 - An Italian singing nun has become an Internet sensation and is looking to spread the Gospel as far as she can on The Voice talent show. Sister Cristina Scuccia, 25, who bowled the talent-show judges over with her rendition of Alicia Key's No One, is also hoping to overtake South Korean rapper Psy's all-time Youtube record with Gangnam Style. The audience at the show's blind auditions raised the roof when Sister Cristina started belting out the bluesy number, sending her modest skirt swinging left and right as she bounced up and down. Tattooed rapper J-Ax was the first judge to turn, his jaw dropping when he saw where the high-voltage and hardly angelic voice was coming from. "If I'd had a nun like you at Sunday school I'd be pope now," he quipped. "We're unbeatable together, the Devil and Holy Water," said the bad boy of the Italian rap world. "You nicked my line," said veteran former Litfiba frontman Piero Pelù, who like the other judges was vying to get Sister Cristina to pick him as her coach. "You have a crazy energy, I'm still pinching myself," said rock god Pelù, a sex symbol and icon of excess. Italian rock-blues queen Noemi, a former X-Factor star, said "forget about sympathy for the devil, come with me, we'll make holy music together". Equally gobsmacked, entertainment legend Raffaella Carrà said she had seen "nothing like it" in a 50-year song-and-dance career that also included a Hollywood foray - the female lead opposite Frank Sinatra in Von Ryan's Express - and hosting prime-time quiz shows. "Are you a real nun?", the visibly amazed Carrà asked Sister Cristina. "Very real indeed. I have a gift and I've come to give it to you," the sassy nun shot back, adding that she was "definitely expecting a call from Pope Francis". Considering the pontiff's penchant for making random phone calls to nuns, that doesn't seem so far-fetched. Sister Cristina said she was "torn" between her four new admirers but revealed "before the show I'd told myself I would pick the first one who turned, so it has to be J-Ax. The nun, who grew up with a love of music in a small town outside Palermo, got her first little break when she was offered the starring role in the Ursuline Order's musical about their founder St Ursula, in the Sicilian capital in 2008. She quickly turned her Sister Act into a spiritual choice. "It all started off as a bit of fun, getting into the role, but as every performance went by I realised that my life was changing," she told the Italian media. The then 18-year-old became a novice the following year and took her holy orders two years ago, while continuing to take signing and dancing classes. "I knew I would never give up my music," said the nun, an avowed fan of big-voiced female stars like Adele, Mariah Carey and, her Wednesday-night choice, Alicia Keys. Her rendition of the US star's hit No One attracted 13 million views in three days. Gangnam Style remains the most watched video on YouTube, with almost two billion hits. But when it was first published, it took 18 days - rather than three - to pass the 10-million-hits mark. By Monday afternoon, the number of views for Sister Cristina's video had jumped to over 30 million. The unlikely TV contestant has been praised by Alicia Keys herself. "Now, THAT'S what beautiful, pure energy looks like! Sing it, sister Christina!" the US singer posted on Twitter, along with a link to the nun's video. Lionised by the Italian press, Sister Cristina has stressed that taking part in talent shows was just another way of spreading the Gospel - in line with Francis' pastoral recommendation for priests to get "dirty" and "bruised," by reaching out to people in the street. "Who said that a nun cannot perform? It gives out a strong signal if a young woman who has consecrated her life to God continues to do things that any person of my age would do," Cristina was quoted as saying by Italian daily La Repubblica.

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