Aretha Franklin to perform for Pope Francis in US

Los Angeles, Sep 15 (IANS) Soul legend and 18-time Grammy winner Aretha Franklin, originally a gospel singer, will sing for Pope Francis during his visit to the US later this month. She counts it as a “blessing”.

Franklin, 73, will perform at the Festival of Families on September 26, organisers said, reports

Her father was a Baptist minister, and she recorded her first album, 1956’s “Songs of Faith”, at his Detroit church when she was 14. Now a biopic on her is also in the works.

The Festival of Families, sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church and put on every three years, also announced that actor Mark Wahlberg would serve as the host of the event.

Wahlberg, a devout Catholic, embraced the church after deciding to turn his life around during a short jail term for racially motivated attacks as a teenager in Boston.

“As a Catholic, I credit much of my success to my faith,” the rapper-turned-actor, best known for the 1997 film “Boogie Nights” and for his Oscar-nominated performance in 2006 film “The Departed”, said in a statement.

“It is an honour to be part of welcoming Pope Francis to Philadelphia and I am humbled to join this celebration.”

US pop-rock band the Fray, Christian pop singer Marie Miller and comedian Jim Gaffigan were also unveiled on Monday as Festival of Families performers.

Colombian rocker Juanes, the Philadelphia Orchestra and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, will also be on stage, as was previously announced in June.

Pope Francis’ visit next week will also feature a meeting with President Barack Obama and an address to Congress in Washington as well as events in New York, including at the United Nations.

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