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Producers of Festival of Families Announce Additional Talent to Perform for Pope Francis

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 14, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- ESM Productions today announced that Aretha Franklin, the reigning and undisputed "Queen of Soul," will travel to Philadelphia to perform at the Festival of Families for Pope Francis, and his congregation, on Saturday, September 26, 2015. Adding to an already robust group of talent, ESM Productions also revealed that Academy Award nominated actor Mark Wahlberg will host the lively event featuring Ms. Franklin, along with newly confirmed performers Grammy-nominated rock band The Fray, and New York Times best-selling author and comedian, Jim Gaffigan.

"It is indeed a blessing to sing in the presence of His Holiness and to the attendees of the Festival of Families in the City of Brotherly Love," Aretha Franklin said. "I look forward to this event. Be blessed!"

"As a Catholic, I credit much of my success to my faith," said Mark Wahlberg. "It is an honor to be a part of welcoming Pope Francis to Philadelphia and I am humbled to join this celebration."

"Children have been a part of our band's story from the beginning," said Isaac Slade, The Fray. "We all have stories of our own fatherhood and family life and we're honored to be a part of such a tremendous celebration, of six families from six continents, sharing their own stories with the world."

"I am so humbled to receive this opportunity to perform in the presence of Pope Francis," said Jim Gaffigan.

Ms. Franklin, The Fray, and Mr. Gaffigan will be joining Andrea Bocelli, Juanes, Marie Miller, Matt Maher, Sister Sledge, and The Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the Festival of Families in celebration of the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015.

"Philadelphia has been given the remarkable gift of being the first American city to host the World Meeting of Families since its inception by Saint John Paul II in 1994," said Scott Mirkin, President of ESM Productions and Executive Producer of the Festival of Families. "To celebrate the Holy Father's historic visit to Philadelphia, we have sewn together the best the city has to offer by bringing the world-renowned Philadelphia Orchestra to the beautiful Benjamin Franklin Parkway to accompany some of the best talent from around the world. I am deeply grateful to everyone who has come together to make this extraordinary event come to life. I am certain that, between the millions of faithful who will make the pilgrimage, and the outstanding show that we have built, the city of Philadelphia is prepared to warmly receive Pope Francis."

Co-sponsored by the Holy See's Pontifical Council for the Family and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the World Meeting of Families is a triennial global event that seeks to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe and highlight its intrinsic value to the good of society. This international gathering will welcome Pope Francis to the United States for the first time in his Papacy. Being held in the United States for the first time ever, the official theme for the 2015 World Meeting of Families is "Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive."

For more information regarding the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, visit www.WorldMeeting2015.org. For more information regarding The Holy See's Pontifical Council for the Family, which co-sponsors the World Meeting of Families, visit http://www.familiam.org/famiglia_eng/00002554_HOME_ENG.html. You can also engage the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia on Facebook (World Meeting of Families 2015) (Encuentro Mundial de las Familias – Filadelfia 2015), Twitter (@WMF2015) (@WMF2015ES) and Instagram (WMF2015).

About ESM Productions

ESM Productions is a nationally recognized live event, design and media production company in Philadelphia, PA. ESM has been at the helm of some of the highest profile events in the United States. From concept to completion, ESM delivers results on stage, on screen and online. (www.esmproductions.com)

About World Meetings of Families

Beginning with 1994, The Year of the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Family has been responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families in Rome (1994); Rio de Janeiro (1997); Rome (2000); Manila (2003); Valencia (2006); Mexico City (2009); Milan (2012); and now, Philadelphia (2015). Since its inception by Saint John Paul II, the World Meeting of Families has sought to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe.

CONTACT: Joshua Plant Susan Blond Group Inc. 212-333-7728 ext. 102 (office) Joshua@SusanBlondGroupInc.comSource:ESM Productions