Dad would be proud Margaret’s singing for Pope Francis with Arethra Franklin

SDLP MP Mark Durkan says Londonderry is proud of soprano Margaret Keys who’ll sing for the Pope with Arethra Franklin and Andrea Bocelli in Philadelphia at the weekend.

Ms Keys, the son of Mr Durkan’s late colleague, the former SDLP Councillor Bill Keys, who passed away last year, will take to the stage alongside the Queen of Soul and the acclaimed tenor for the special papal show in the ‘City of Brotherly Love.’

She’s taking part in the World Festival of Families over September 26 and 27.

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She announced: “I will perform from the Eakins Oval on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in front of an estimated audience of 800,000 - 1.2 million. I am humbled and honoured to be able to perform at this very special world event.”

Mr Durkan said: “There will be great pride and a lot of joy for Margaret and her family that she has been chosen for this special performance.

“It is well-deserved recognition of her special talent and warm spirit.

“She knows how proud her father would have been on this signal occasion, but she should also know that pride will not just be reflected in her own family but across the city among all who admire her gift and cherish his memory.”

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Margaret will be home from home in Philadelphia, a city with strong links to the North West.

American historian John Reps suggested Philadelphia may have been modelled on the city of Londonderry.

In ‘The Making of Modern America’ he wrote: “The Lords Proprietor were never known for particularly lavish expenditures on behalf of the well-being of the colony, and one is forced to conclude that they carried over this niggardly attitude when they decided on the plan of their capital city.

“In fact they might have copied the plan of Londonderry, doubled the scale, added an extra tier of blocks all around, and laid it off in the delta of the Carolinas.”