AS her voice echoed around the austere chapel where she was buried, many were moved to tears by X Factor star Kerry McGregor singing to them from beyond the grave.
Now the poignant track she performed, Smile, is to be released posthumously as an iTunes release on what would have been the tragic singer’s 38th birthday.
Kerry, who competed in The X Factor in 2006, below, passed away in January following a battle with bladder cancer.
Following her funeral at the Kirk of Calder in Mid Calder, which was attended by more than 400 people, her family decided to release the song, with all proceeds going towards establishing a foundation in Kerry’s name that will help aspiring young artists and performers.
Kerry’s mother, Margaret, 62, who lives in the Pumpherston, West Lothian, said: “Kerry wanted to help children and young people get the confidence to perform. Music gives them, even in the most difficult situations, a way to express who they are and what they want to be.
“Smile is often seen as a sad song, but that’s not how Kerry saw it at all. It’s the simplest advice that she could give to anyone ‘to keep on trying’. Kerry was one of life’s great achievers and that’s why we felt this song should be released on her birthday.”
Kerry, who came second in the 1997 Great British Song Contest to eventual Eurovision winners Katrina and the Waves, was an inspiration to many during her life. When she was five years old her father, George, was killed by a drunk driver. Then, aged 13, the aspiring ballet dancer was paralysed from the waist down after falling 20ft from a tree and breaking her back.
However, Kerry was determined not to let anything stop her and battled to be allowed to stay at West Calder High after being told she would now have to attend a specialised school for disabled children. When she learned to walk again with the aid of crutches after only six weeks, she was awarded a prestigious Children of Achievement award. West Calder High also named an award after her, which is presented annually to a pupil succeeding beyond measure.
Margaret said: “When she had her accident we told her ‘you’ve still got music’. We are a very musical family – her grandfather, Bobby McKerracher, was known as ‘the Scottish Bing Crosby’, and myself and my sister were both singers – so she already had that inside her.”
Margaret is now helping Kerry’s husband, Dean, to raise Joshua, her seven-year-old grandson.
She said: “Joshua’s really excited that he will be able to see the song on iTunes. It will be a special day.”
Smile will be available on iTunes from Tuesday.
The song was originally composed by Charlie Chaplin, while John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added the lyrics and title in 1954. Michael Jackson recorded a popular version in 1995.