aretha franklin & pope (screenshot)

*Pope Francis, on his final leg of a six day journey to the United States, arrived in Philadelphia on Saturday to cap off the World Meeting of Families Congress. Adding to the festivities were a couple of performances by Aretha Franklin.

Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati was on the Scene for the Electronic Urban Report/EURweb.com and filed this report:

The Philadelphia stop was considered more pastoral with the Pope addressing immigration issues at Independence Hall, a planned visit to a prison, a festival of families concert, and a Sunday mass with an expected attendance of a million.

festival of families

The Festival of Families event, hosted by actor Mark Wahlberg, featured a mix-bag of entertainment – comedy, dance, poetry, biblical readings, and speakers sharing their family stories. Former Philadelphia Eagle, now Minister, Herb Lusk gave a rousing reading from the Bible. Aretha Franklin, Andrea Bocelli, Latin sensation Juanes and the Philadelphia Orchestra shared the stage with the Pope, who was positioned front and centered during the performance.

The feuding Sister Sledge minus Kathy Sledge, took to the stage to do a medley of their songs. Bad timing because the audience had their sights away from the stage as they waited on the much anticipated Papal procession in the Pope mobile as the sisters belted out “We Are Family.” I guess they didn’t get the memo on the Pope’s message on family:

“All the love and beauty God has in himself, he gives it to the family … the family is a factory of hope,” said Pope Francis.

The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, had a few friends in tow like Jesse Jackson as well as Marcia and Michael Eric Dyson who hung out with her back stage. Broadcaster Joe Madison along with his Sherry watched the show from the audience.

aretha (screenshot-pope)

But back to the Queen. She belted out “Amazing Grace” taking the audience to church and setting the tone for all of the performance that followed. The audience gave her performance the first standing ovation. She looked especially svelte in her first clothing change of the night, a white lace sheath with a black coat on this especially balmy night. As she exited the stage she did a little jig. This was out of the eye sight of the Pope who seemed to be looking for an encore.

Because of a number of programming changes, half the reserved seated audience, including the Pope, had left when she reappeared on stage to sing her second song “Nessus Dorma.” In a black sheath with a black coat, she again had the audience on their feet. A young boy named Elijah form the Pennsylvania Boys Choir, under the watchful eye of the Secret Service, ran on stage to give her a hug.

At 73, there is now slowing down for Ms. Franklin who continues to gain new followers.