POPS on Independence for Wawa Welcome America 2018 | The Philly Pops
POPS on Independence 2018

POPS on Independence for Wawa Welcome America 2018

Todd Ellison, Conductor

Independence Hall

520 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
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03 July 2018
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Todd Ellison, conductor
Heather Headley, vocalist
Justin Hopkins, vocalist
The Voices of the POPS

The Philly POPS and The Voices of the POPS are proud to perform in this free, patriotic celebration of America's birthday as part of Wawa Welcome America!, the nations largest, free 4th of July festival. 

A Philly POPS Salute Series performance honoring our nation's traditions, values, and commitment to service. Your sponsorship or donation will help to offset the cost of hosting the veterans, military, and first responders at Salute Series events throughout the year.

The Philly POPS is back on Independence Mall for its annual free July 3 show during the Wawa Welcome America! festival!

With the backdrop of Independence Hall, the 65-piece Philly POPS orchestra, led by Todd Ellison, will perform a patriotic, entertaining show. POPS on Independence has become a Philadelphia tradition enjoyed by 15,000 locals and visitors each year. The orchestra will be joined by Tony and Grammy winner, R&B hitmaker, and international singing sensation Heather Headley as well as Philadelphia’s own Justin Hopkins – a frequent guest artist with the POPS.

Heather Headly is a Tony and Grammy winner, R&B hitmaker, and international singing sensation! Heather’s July 3 performance will preview a one-night-only show on October 12: The Philly POPS presents Heather Headley's Broadway My Way. Heather is the original Nala from The Lion King on Broadway, the Tony-winning star of Aida and the Laurence Olivier Award nominee for her star turn in ​The Bodyguard musical. She has recently toured with Andrea Bocelli — POPS audiences saw her last December at the Wells Fargo Center.

In line with The POPS celebration of its 40th Anniversary, POPS on Independence and the 2018-19 concert season are dedicated to Philadelphia’s artists, musicians and composers. This year, The POPS embraces the magic that is American pop music through a carefully curated set of music and performances, each with a unique connection to Philadelphia’s history and its neighborhoods.

Comcast NBCUniversal is the Presenting Sponsor of The Philly POPS Salute Series. These free celebrations of community and tradition, which honor our shared commitment to service on holidays of American tradition, also rely on the generous support of Major Sponsors Bank of America, Archer Law, EisnerAmper and Drs. John* (Jack) and Pina Templeton as well as grants through partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia.

Guest Artists

Todd Ellison, Music Director


Hailed by The New York Times as one of “Broadway’s Electric Conductors,” Ellison is one of the most accomplished and sought-after music director/composers working today.

Currently the Music Supervisor/Conductor/arranger of the new Broadway-bound musical Roman Holiday, he is also the composer of the award-winning new musical The Black and White Ball with Stephen Cole, as well as The Canterville Hotel with Brendan Cull. He also composed the songs “The Long Way” for Emily Skinner, and “Gettin’ Nowhere Fast” for Guy Haines.

He is currently the Music Supervisor of An American in Paris at the Dominion Theater in London’s West End, as well as 42nd Street at the Drury Lane Theater.

His Broadway credits include Michel Legrand’s Amour, Monty Python’s Spamalot (Best Musical Tony Award), La Cage aux Folles (Best Musical Revival Tony Award), 42nd Street (Best Revival Tony Award ), Elton John’s Lestat, Annie, The Wild Party, On the Town, Once Upon a Mattress (starring Sarah Jessica Parker), How To Succeed (starring Matthew Broderick), She Loves Me, Taller than a Dwarf and A Class Act.

He was the music director of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at the famed Radio City Music Hall for several seasons.

As Marvin Hamlisch’s music director, Ellison worked with him on his productions of Ballroom and The Nutty Professor directed by Jerry Lewis.

For City Center’s Encores!, he conducted their acclaimed version of On The Town and The Bandwagon.

Internationally, he has conducted at the Vienna Konzerthaus with Dawn Upshaw and Jerry Hadley, The Dublin Film Orchestra, Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Mexico City), World Science Festival at Lincoln Center, Cole Porter’s Jubilee at Carnegie Hall, the Pittsburgh Symphony, San Diego Symphony, The Philly POPS, Nashville Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, New Haven, New Jersey, and York Symphonies.

He has conducted more than 20 albums including the Grammy Award-winning cast albums of his shows. He has accompanied such stars as Beyoncé, Meryl Streep, Mike Nichols, Nicole Kidman, Barry Manilow, Jane Lynch, Bea Arthur, David Hyde Pierce, Tracey Ullman, and Kelsey Grammar.

Born in Essex, Connecticut, Ellison began his piano lessons at age 6 and is a graduate of Boston University School of Music with a degree in piano performance.

Heather Headley

Heather Headley, vocalist


Tony and Grammy Award winner Heather Headley originated the role of Nala in the original Broadway cast of the Elton John and Tim Rice’s hit Tony-winning musical The Lion King. She won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical and Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her portrayal in the title role in Aida.

She has been named one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” and Essence Magazine’s “30 Women To Watch.” Heather followed up her Broadway success on the pop charts with her 2002 debut album on RCA Records, This Is Who I Am, which featured productions by several top-flight producers including Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and Shep Crawford. Two songs — “He Is” and “I Wish I Wasn’t” — both emerged as Top 5 R&B and Dance chart hits.

Heather earned numerous accolades for This Is Who I Am, including Grammy Award nominations for Best New Artist and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards for R&B/Soul Album of the Year and Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist, NAACP Image Awards nominations for Outstanding New Artist and Outstanding Female Artist, and BET Awards in the “Cool Like That” category.

In January 2006, Heather returned with her long-awaited second solo album In My Mind, once again working with an A-list of producers, among them Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Ne-Yo, Warryn Campbell, and Lil’ Jon. The title track became Heather’s first #1 hit, topping the Dance charts.

Heather took her first foray into the gospel music world in 2009 with the release of her third studio album Audience of One — for which she won the Grammy Award for the Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album.

In 2016, Heather made a triumphant return to Broadway playing Shug Avery in The Color Purple.

Over the past few years, she has displayed her versatility as one of classical star Andrea Bocelli’s favorite singing partners in many of his American and international tours.

She has performed on numerous daytime and late night shows, including The View, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Tonight Show, and The Late Show.  She was the spokesperson for the March of Dimes and led their “I Want My 9 Months” campaign, and also serves on the board of Directors for the Catalyst Charter Schools in Chicago.

Heather was born in Trinidad and is a Northwestern University alum.

Justin Hopkins


Hailed by the LA Times for his “beautifully focused bass baritone” and “commanding presence onstage,” Philadelphia-native Justin Hopkins is establishing himself as one of the most sought-after and versatile artists on the scene today. Equally comfortable in operatic, concert, pops, and musical theater repertoire, he has been featured in such concert halls and theaters as Carnegie Hall, Théâtre Royal de La Monnaie, Brussels; Symphony Hall, Boston, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, Koerner Hall, Toronto. He has been a guest soloist with the Philly POPS, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Pops, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Verbier Festival Orchestra, Leipzig Radio Symphony, and Grand Rapids Symphony Pops.

Hopkins made his debut with the Philly POPS in 2016 for POPS On Independence at Independence Mall.  Other pops appearances include Happy Holidays With The Boston Pops, broadcast nationally on PBS in 2016, Florida and Midwest tour of By George! The Boston Pops Plays Gershwin, The Golden Age of Broadway with the Boston Pops, Grand Rapids Symphony Holiday Pops, and Kurt Weill On Broadway with the BBC Concert Orchestra in London. Equally at home in the world of jazz and jazz standards, Hopkins most recently performed with famed singer Peggy King and the All-Star Jazz Trio in the RRazz Room at the Prince in Philadelphia.

Recent and upcoming opera and classical performances include Stephen Kumalo in Lost in the Stars and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Aaron Copland’s Old American Songs with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem with Dayton Philharmonic, Fantasia On Christmas Carols at Alice Tully Hall with New York Choral Society, Elijah with The Choristers of Lansdale, Il Servo and Il Medico in Macbeth with Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Mozart’s Requiem with Dayton Philharmonic, Kurt Weill’s Die Verheissung with Leipzig Radio Symphony, Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera Memphis, Revered Salvation in The Cradle Will Rock with Opera Saratoga, Sparafucile/Monterone in Rigoletto with Baltimore Concert Opera, Orazio in Amleto with Opera Delaware, Gesler in Guillaume Tell with Opera Southwest.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Justin Hopkins was a member of the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale from 1993-2002. He attended St. Joseph’s Prep where he was a member of the Cape and Sword Drama Society. He has sung for numerous dignitaries and heads of state, including a command solo performance for the Dalai Lama in 2010. He took second place in the 2012 Lotte Lenya Competition.

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors
Bank of America
Eisner Amper
Philadelphia Phillies
Slideshow  |  8 Photos
POPS On Independence 2017 Slideshow
POPS On Independence 2018
  • POPS On Independence 2018
    POPS On Independence 2017 Slideshow
  • POPS On Independence 2018
    POPS On Independence 2017 Slideshow
  • POPS On Independence 2018
    POPS On Independence 2017 Slideshow
  • POPS On Independence 2018
    POPS On Independence 2017 Slideshow
  • POPS On Independence 2018
    POPS On Independence 2017 Slideshow
  • POPS On Independence 2018
    POPS On Independence 2017 Slideshow
  • POPS On Independence 2018
    POPS On Independence 2017 Slideshow
  • POPS On Independence 2018
    POPS On Independence 2017 Slideshow
A Philly POPS Salute Series Event

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