Easter duet video goes viral online

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

An Easter version of Hallelujah recorded and filmed in Fort Frances is now getting shared internationally, receiving 11.5 million views and more than 600,000 shares on Facebook in a matter of days.

The stars of the viral video are Callahan, 19, and Cassandra, 10, Armstrong. In under five minutes, the sisters were able to capture social media users in Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada and the rest of the world with their captivating rendition of Hallelujah.

Nikki Armstrong, Callahan and Cassandra’s mother, said the support has been overwhelming, especially considering the video was modestly produced and filmed using an iPhone in the girls’ bedroom.

While the video was filmed at home, the recording was done at Maverick Judson’s recording studio in Emo.

“It’s crazy how it’s like a domino effect,” Nikki said. “It’s really neat how it spread. And it’s nice to know that good news can spread just as wild as bad news. It’s a good feeling to make our hometown and the people here who have always supported my kids proud.”

Nikki said she received a call from the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, asking that Callahan and Cassandra fly in to perform at the “Shroud of the Tourin” exhibit held in February.

Besides that, the sisters will also sing at their annual fundraising gala this coming November; the director of the museum and his wife were moved after watching the video.

“It’s like a VIP dinner,” Nikki said. “They want them to sing on the big stage. It’s a very high-tech virtual reality experience where they would put moving pictures behind them. They’re paying for all our travel and putting us in a special suite.”

The Armstrongs Easter version of Hallelujah will also be played by Pam Rhodes on her TV series in the United Kingdom. Nikki said Rhodes has interviewed the Pope, the Royal Family and produces top rated Christian TV programming.

Cassandra is also scheduled to sing for Michael Orland, American Idol producer of 16 years, and Dan Micciche, director of Wicked, to offer some advice.

Although widely received by international organizations, Nikki said it could not have happened without the local support from her coaches.

Nikki said she extends her gratitude to the local teachers who are a big part of Callahan and Cassandra’s success.

Renee Martin-Brown, voice teacher for both girls, Trevor Barker, song writer and Scott Barker, acting teacher, have all worked tirelessly to improve the girls’ stage skills, Nikki said.

Nikki also received a call from Kelly Mooney, a Canadian singer who originally changed the lyrics of the song.

“Mooney went viral with hers about 10 years ago,” Nikki said. “She’s actually reached out to us to say what a beautiful job and she can’t believe how popular it is. But she said deservingly so because their voices are so beautiful.”

Nikki added that the local Rainy River District of The Performing Arts Festival, which all of Nikki’s children – Callahan, Cassandra and Christian – have been a part of for most of their lives, improved their confidence, and shaped them into who they are as individual performers.

“The constructive criticism from the adjudicators is always helpful and encouraging,” Nikki said. “I really believe that our festival has transformed my kids and we will always be grateful for everything it has to offer and the wonderful volunteers who make it happen every year for the last 70 years.”

The Easter version of Hallelujah is now available on iTunes, Spotify and Apple Music.

“We are very lucky because our community has been very supportive,” Nikki said. “They’ve invited the girls to sing many times at different events, whether it’s church or Christmas, they sang for the Salvation Army many times and the hockey game anthems. I feel like it’s our rock foundation of support. This small town has its arms around my children and loves them.”