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  • - I was found in a box on a battlefield.

  • I'm Emmanuel Kelly, and this is my story.

  • I was found on a battlefield in Iraq,

  • by soldiers taken to an orphanage

  • without any birth certificates, passports or identity.

  • And for the next seven years

  • I was raised by mother Theresa nuns,

  • where I experienced and saw gunshots,

  • executions, experienced bombings going off

  • hearing noises every day that I didn't understand.

  • That's also where I met my now brother Ahmed

  • who is an amazing individual.

  • I always say the only thing thicker than blood is love.

  • Ahmed is not my biological brother

  • but I love him more than words can ever, ever explain.

  • Whilst I was in that orphanage for the next seven years,

  • we knew it was up to us to take care of these kids.

  • We would have one meal a day at 4:00 PM every day

  • and we would have to feed these kids change their diapers

  • do all the things that a 30 year old

  • would do at the age of five.

  • Eventually this exceptional woman Moira Kelly,

  • who's a humanitarian who has

  • changed 1000 of kids' lives over the years

  • had heard about my brother and I

  • while she was in Albania of all places

  • looking after kids at a Mother Theresa orphanage as well.

  • She gets on a plane and heads out to Iraq,

  • eventually arrives at this orphanage

  • after spending an eight hour trip from Jordan to Iraq,

  • in a taxi with someone that doesn't speak English

  • for three days straight

  • I sat on a window ledge waiting and waiting and waiting.

  • Thank God for my brother

  • even though I had moments where I felt alone

  • because of him, he reminded me every now and then

  • whether it was through singing to me that I wasn't alone.

  • And finally, on the third day she arrived

  • and I remember thinking three things.

  • Number one, can she help us, will she help us?

  • Number two, is she and angel, she wearing the white dress

  • with a blue veil over her head

  • and I thought to myself, this could be the moment where

  • my life could literally change

  • and number three, how the heck did this white woman

  • get in this country?

  • Cause she was whiter than white chocolate.

  • And as a Brown guy in Iraq,

  • never seen a white person in my life at the age of five,

  • she comes into the orphanage

  • my brother and I always start singing

  • at like at the top of our lungs, a welcome song

  • (sings in foreign language)

  • But she took us out for the day

  • I got to see the river of Babylon, got to experience Iraq,

  • and we got to step out of the walls of that orphanage

  • for the first time she brought us back to the end of it

  • that day she sat us down.

  • My brother asked her a really serious question.

  • He was seven at the time, auntie Moira

  • we called her auntie Moira he says, can you help us?

  • And auntie Moira turns around and says,

  • I'll do my best and I'll do my best.

  • And he goes well its okay moira if you can't help

  • both Emmanuel and I, take Emmanuel

  • and maybe come back for me another time.

  • It took me a while, I think I was about eight years old

  • It was after I came out to Australia

  • where I got told that story, and that's when I realized

  • the only thing thicker than blood is love.

  • It took mom two years auntie Moira, two years

  • to bring us out to Australia.

  • Finally we arrived, I remember looking over the window ledge

  • and I thought, wow, how beautiful is that?

  • we arrived into the airport, oh stop right

  • and I said, auntie Moira, I'm very, very hungry

  • she goes, no worries boys, we have spaghetti bolognese

  • and we're like, what is spaghetti Bolognese

  • she says, ah, you love it, right?

  • And she puts it in front of us

  • and we said, auntie Moira we need help,

  • she goes, no, you don't said no, we need help.

  • See, we'd never used a knife and fork for the first term,

  • We'd never used a spoon for the first time

  • using the knife and fork was, completely new to us,

  • but we learned it.

  • Spaghetti bolognese is the hardest meal to eat.

  • There's no doubt about it is,

  • I mean it goes over you, it's messy, but after a while

  • and through as my life grew and I got bigger and older

  • I realized that life is messy right?

  • We have these moments and life is messy

  • that's the reality.

  • But I learned to embrace myself so much so

  • that I'm sharing with you right now,

  • doctors were able to make me a hand

  • and it was pretty exceptional.

  • I went to school, I had my first crush.

  • I know I had my first girlfriend, my first kiss.

  • I lived a life that I would never have lived in Iraq.

  • At the age of nine is when I learned

  • that I could sing and I could sing and make money.

  • I watched a TV show called American idol

  • and I watched this woman perform

  • it was Kelly Clarkson and she won the show.

  • I was inspired and I said, wow, she can do it I can as well.

  • That same year I did my first public performance

  • in front of a bunch of financial planners and accountants

  • Financial Planners are fun, accountants boring,

  • and everyone in the audience clapped loud.

  • Cut two years later at age 11, I performed again,

  • this is the first time I realized

  • I wanna pursue music for the rest like this is what I wanna

  • do for the rest of my life.

  • I wanna be a singer for the rest of my life.

  • I wanna be an artist and entertainer,

  • I wanna disrupt the music industry

  • this was the first time I realized

  • I wanted to be the first differently abled pop success.

  • I sung Imagine, now remember that at 11 years old

  • was when I first sung imagine I got three standing ovations

  • cut to age at 14 I sung for the Prime Minister of Australia.

  • I went in on and met him, I shook his hand, and he says

  • you're gonna become big, two years later

  • I got my citizenship at age 16, my brother was 18

  • I got my citizenship and it was the best of my life.

  • I had two incredible days of my life at this point,

  • the day I arrived in Australia

  • and the day I got my citizenship

  • cause for the first time ever

  • the woman that has been taking care of both my brother and I

  • for the last eight years of our lives,

  • we could call her mum we finally felt like we belonged.

  • At 17 years of age, I auditioned for X factors.

  • I remember learning home by Michael buble

  • and the reason I resonated with that song so much

  • is because I think wherever you are in the world,

  • home is where love is, I mean, that's the message, right?

  • And I'm terrified, I'm nervous, I'm waiting,

  • and finally they call my name this guy Andrew furs.

  • And he says to me now, Emmanuel, are you ready to sing

  • Imagine by John Lennon, I said, no, I'm singing home.

  • He says, no, dude we couldn't get the rights

  • for you to sing home by Michael Buble,

  • I said, wait, no, no one knowing no one did

  • and he goes, Oh, sorry buddy,

  • lucky I sung it when I was 11 years old

  • but dude, I can't remember anything

  • and he goes, well, he is the lyrics, you got five minutes.

  • And then finally I get to the, to the stage and I'm nervous.

  • Everything just slows down, I'm still massively insecure

  • about the way I look about my hands.

  • I'm getting ready to hide them

  • under my sleeve, pulling it down and down and down.

  • And I walk on stage with my lamp and I'm nervous about that

  • and I'm trying not to limp and I arrive at the on stage

  • and I remember Ronan Keating, who's a Irish guy sung

  • He was big in the UK and Europe with a band

  • called boyzone right, and I was a huge fan

  • I remember him asking me, Hey mate,

  • I said, Hey, how you doing?

  • And he says, what's your name, and the rest was history.

  • I told the story that you all just heard.

  • I was found in a box on a battlefield

  • taken to an orphanage where I was raised there

  • for the next seven years, experiencing noises

  • gunshots, seeing things that I didn't understand.

  • And the whole audience just took back

  • millions of views start rolling in into YouTube

  • things go crazy, interview after interview,

  • after interview, after interview.

  • And I'm starting to think I'm God's gift

  • to earth, but at the same time

  • I'm starting to become massively overwhelmed.

  • I started touring, started seeing the world.

  • I sold out the MGM grand arena in Las Vegas,

  • I mean, things like that, It was nuts.

  • But as things go up, there's always a down point.

  • I started to get arrogant and cocky and I realized

  • that it wasn't because I necessarily thought

  • I was the best or anything like that.

  • It was because I was so insecure about myself

  • that I overcompensated with arrogance

  • and cockiness, record labels, agents,

  • managers started to discriminate.

  • They told me I couldn't make it, I wasn't gonna make it.

  • They told me that because I had a disability

  • that I looked bad for their brand.

  • And I'm talking about every

  • all the labels and forcing me to be a speaker instead

  • of doing what I love, what I know the world also loves.

  • It is my passion, my dream is to disrupt,

  • my dream is to be the first differently abled pop success.

  • I started to go into a depressive state, anxiety

  • depression, If I heard loud noises, it would remind me

  • of the bombs in Iraq and I would be terrified

  • I would have nightmares in the way to stop

  • that was to get on drugs, drink too much,

  • have sex with any random stranger,

  • It was a really bad time in my life.

  • But one day a friend of mine, he says,

  • stay with me on my couch, and that same day I looked

  • at the mirror and I asked myself Emmanuel

  • what happened to the boy who could survive anything,

  • punched the mirror as hard as I could.

  • A lot of my hand, the next day, my mate,

  • he bought a new mirror put it up on the wall

  • and he said, please don't break this

  • (laughs)

  • And I looked at the mirror again and I said, there you are.

  • From that day onwards, I started to say to myself

  • embrace yourself, love yourself, embrace who you are.

  • You can do it.

  • Remember you're never alone, but then I get a call.

  • Rob Goldstein, he managed some artists

  • in New York and says, Emmanuel, a friend of mine has gone

  • on tour and we pitched you to perform with him.

  • We sit down and he has me record a video,

  • and then he turns the phone to me

  • and he shows me and it says, Chris Martin from Coldplay

  • the biggest band in the world wanted to perform with me?

  • This kid from Iraq a month later, I arrive in Australia.

  • I'm a surprise for my mom,

  • we didn't tell her that this was happening

  • and Chris Martin walks in the band, walks in,

  • I high five them well, high three,

  • and we start rehearsing just

  • as I'm about to hop on stage with Coldplay,

  • I realized something, Oh no, I'm not wearing my jacket.

  • I'm just wearing a T-shirt and a white T-shirt

  • I'm like, I gotta wear my jacket,

  • 80,000 people in an audience is gonna look at me.

  • I've gotta wear my jacket.

  • Then the backstage manager goes to me,

  • Emmanuel they're ready, you've gotta get on stage.

  • Its not gotta get my jacket

  • my boy looks at me and he says, Emmanuel

  • you got two choices right now,

  • you either get on that stage

  • or you go and get that jacket

  • and you don't perform the coldplay

  • for a second, I actually considered not to perform

  • with the biggest band in the world

  • because I was still so insecure.

  • All those memories just start a rushing back