UK & World News
Singing Monk Vs X Factor For Xmas Top Spot
A young, little-known Italian friar is to take on Simon Cowell's The X Factor in the annual race for Christmas number one.
By day, Franciscan friar Alessandro Brustenghi lives and works as a carpenter and tour guide at the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi, a hilltop town in northern Italy.
Now the tenor is on track to top both the classical album chart - and the specialist classical chart - on Sunday.
The 34-year-old landed a major record deal earlier this year working with Manic Street Preachers and The Cure producer Mike Hedges on his debut album, Voice From Assisi.
"I have been overwhelmed by the reaction and the warmth of the people to this album, and feel the connection to so many hearts in a communion of beauty and joy, through music," he said.
Record bosses at Decca are hoping to capitalise on his popularity by releasing a single in time for Christmas which would go head-to-head with the song to be released by this year's X Factor winner.
However, even if his single is a huge money-spinner, because he has taken a personal vow of poverty, all proceeds go to charity.
Last year the Military Wives deprived X Factor winners Little Mix of the festive accolade.
In 2009, Joe McElderry was pipped to the post by Rage Against The Machine after a Facebook campaign against manufactured artists.