Aretha Franklin, Anthony Kearns to perform at pope's U.S. visit

Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:43pm EDT
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(Reuters) - U.S. soul singer Aretha Franklin and acclaimed Irish tenor Anthony Kearns will perform during the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia later this month, event organizers said on Monday.

The two singers will headline separate performances on Saturday, Sept. 26, when the pope visits the World Meeting of Families' street festival, and in the run-up to a public Mass said by the pontiff on Sunday, Sept. 27. The Mass is expected to draw a crowd of more than 1.5 million people.

"It is indeed a blessing to sing in the presence of His Holiness and to the attendees of the Festival of Families in the City of Brotherly Love," said Franklin, who received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994 for her contributions to popular music in a recording career that began in the 1960s.

Franklin will sing at an open-air concert hosted by actor Mark Wahlberg and featuring comedian Jim Gaffigan, world renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli and the Philadelphia Orchestra along the city's Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Kearns will join a lineup of performers including the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale and soprano Margaret Keys set to perform ahead of the Sunday Mass.

Pope Francis is also due to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress in Washington and the United Nations in New York during his first visit to the United States, which begins on Sept. 22 and ends Sept. 27 following the Philadelphia Mass.

(Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Will Dunham)

BET honoree singer Aretha Franklin performs onstage at BET Honors 2014 at Warner Theatre in Washington on February 8, 2014. REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana