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Aretha Franklin Discusses Her Songs, Gift And Upcoming Performance For Pope Francis

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- There's a star studded line-up for the Festival of Families this weekend, and the headliner, the Queen of Soul arrived in Philadelphia today. KYW Community Affairs reporter Cherri Gregg spoke to the Grammy Award winning singer about her upcoming performance for Pope Francis.

"I'm thrilled and truly honored," says Aretha Franklin, on her feeling about performing for the Pontiff.

The Queen of Soul has performed for presidents, the Queen of England and for Pope John Paul II.  And now, she'll sing two songs for Pope Francis.


"It is really tremendous and particularly at this juncture in my career," she says, "I am going to be almost semi-retiring next year and, what a way to retire."

Franklin says she'll sing Amazing Grace, her biggest selling record and the largest selling gospel record of all time. But that's not the only reason she selected the song.

"It's universal and loved by all faiths," she says, "and it's universal."

The second selection is a surprise.  Franklin says she's excited to perform for Pope Francis, a man she calls a humble leader.

"I am very, very impressed with his humble beginnings -- he always described himself as the son of an immigrant," she says, "it tells me that he never forgets where he comes from....such humility and there is greatness in humility."

Franklin says she plans to present the Pontiff with a special gift; a box set of her sermons written by her father, Bishop CL Franklin, a Baptist minister.

"I can't think of anyone better to convey the word," she says.

In the meantime, Franklin says she'll rest up and do some shopping in the city she calls her second home.

"I love Philly -- I always have," she says.

Aretha Franklin will perform Saturday evening at the Festival of Families.  She'll join Andrea Bocelli, Juanes, and other performers.

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