The Queen of Hip-Hop Soul herself, Mary J. Blige, will headline this year’s Wawa Welcome America Festival concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on July 4, organizers announced Friday.
This year's festival runs June 29 through July 4.
The festivities culminate with the Parkway concert on the Fourth of July at 7 p.m., followed by a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. Start times for both the concert and fireworks are earlier than in previous years.
In addition to Blige’s appearance, her first on the Parkway, the July 4 concert will also feature a performance from the Philly POPS, who were the first group to play the festival back in 1993. The POPS will be joined by Mandy Gonzalez of Hamilton and Wicked fame, as well as Billboard top 10 singer, pianist, and songwriter Tony DeSare.
Prior to the Parkway concert, the festival and city will honor Philly natives Boyz II Men with a “Celebration of Freedom” ceremony at 10 a.m. at Independence Hall.
In that ceremony, the city will “officially recognize [the group’s] historic achievements in music and philanthropy,” according to a release. Last year, the event honored producers and Philly natives Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff.
Parents with young children can attend a special concert from the KIDZ Bop Kids, who return this year to perform an early afternoon concert on July 4. The group creates kid-friendly renditions of popular modern songs.
The theme for this year's festival – the event's 25th anniversary – is “Everyone is a History Maker.”
“Each of these artists are history makers in their own right,” Mayor Kenney said in a statement. “We are thrilled to welcome them back to Philadelphia and be able to host a free concert that all Philadelphians can enjoy.”
More details about Wawa Welcome America will be announced as the event approaches.