Why is Aretha Franklin at the Festival of Families?

139214678
Aretha Franklin will sing "Amazing Grace" and will later be joined by Andrea Bocelli. (Photo: Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images)

Aretha Franklin is the queen of American soul music. Franklin’s father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, was a pastor, also known for his vocal prowess who was often called the Man with the Million-Dollar Voice. Aretha’s first recordings were made at her father’s congregation, New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit. Franklin told the Inquirer she plans on gifting Pope Francis with a boxed set of her father’s sermons, 38 volumes in total.

Throughout her career — aside from R&B and pop hits like “Respect” and “[You Make Me Feel Like] a Natural Woman” — Franklin released gospel albums, including the live album Amazing Grace (1972) (a film by the late Sydney Pollack about the recording of the album is now the subject of a legal battle) and One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism (1987). Franklin has performed for presidents (including Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration), the queen of England and Pope John Paul II. This will be her first time performing for Pope Francis. Earlier in the week, Franklin said she planned on singing “Amazing Grace,” along with a duet with fellow Festival of Families headliner Andrea Bocelli.

Watch: Aretha Franklin sings “Amazing Grace” at Luther Vanrdoss’ funeral in 2005.