City of Philadelphia to Honor Philly POPS 40th Anniversary During Weeklong July 4 Festival | The Philly POPS

City of Philadelphia to Honor Philly POPS 40th Anniversary During Weeklong July 4 Festival

Jun 5, 2018

Tweet: This year’s @July4thPhilly festival will honor the 40th anniversary of The Philly POPS! The POPS will perform on July 3 and twice on July 4.

Images: Download high-res photos

Philadelphia, PA (June 4, 2018) — This year's Wawa Welcome America festival, a weeklong July 4 celebration, will honor the 40th anniversary of The Philly POPS and its contributions to the community through its music education program and concert series honoring the military, veterans, and first responders.

At May 21’s announcement event, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said:

“I’m happy to announce Wawa Welcome America will recognize Frank Giordano and The Philly POPS organization as the ‘2018 Welcome America Honoree.’ We will shine a spotlight on The Philly POPS organization for its commitment to children in the School District of Philadelphia with the POPS in Schools supplemental music education program. Equally important is the Salute Series, where The Philly POPS offers free concerts for those serving as military, police, and fire personnel. Thank you, Frank and The Philly POPS, for your creativity, your hard work and for being an important part of Wawa Welcome America.”

As a partner of civic celebration with the City of Philadelphia, The POPS is involved in two major city-wide initiatives including POPS in Schools and the Salute Series.

POPS in Schools brings supplemental music education into elementary schools and high schools across the School District of Philadelphia with the goal of building the next generation of musicians and arts lovers. At the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony on July 4, Chaitali Kidd, a sixth grader from the Delaplaine McDaniel School, will perform a short, solo version of “Joyful, Joyful.” In addition, members of the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush jazz band will embed in The POPS BIG Band, which is providing the live soundtrack for the event.

The Salute Series honors local Police, Firefighters, members of the Military, Veterans, and their families with complimentary tickets to nine large-scale, patriotic performances throughout the year.

Philly POPS CEO and President Frank Giordano said:

“Independence Week holds a special place in the history of the POPS. The orchestra first performed during the city’s celebration in 1980. This July, we will enter our 40th season. There is no better place or time to mark this milestone in POPS history than during this year’s Wawa Welcome America festival at Independence Hall.”

The Philly POPS performs multiple times during the Wawa Welcome America festival. Salute Series shows are presented by Comcast NBCUniversal.

July 3

With the backdrop of Independence Hall, the 65-piece Philly POPS orchestra, led by guest conductor 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.

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.

July 3’s show will feature songs that have connections to POPS history and that showcase artists and music with Philly roots, including performances of:

  • “I Got Rhythm,” which the POPS performed at its inaugural concert in 1979. The song is also featured in the new Tony-winning Broadway show An American In Paris, which was conducted by July 3’s guest conductor Todd Ellison.
  • Sousa’s “Liberty Bell March,” which the POPS performed at its first July 4 on Independence Mall in 1980.
  • “West Side Story Overture” by Curtis Institute graduate Leonard Bernstein, whose centenary is currently being celebrated worldwide and on Independence Mall with the National Museum of American Jewish History’s The Power of Music exhibit.

July 4


The City of Philadelphia’s Office of the City Representative and Independence National Historical Park will present the Welcome America Festival Honoree at Independence Hall where The Philly POPS will be honored for its 40-year history in Philadelphia and contributions to POPS in Schools and the Salute Series for its free patrioric performances that honor our nation's traditions, values, and commitment to service. 

Conductor Todd Ellison and The Philly POPS BIG Band will perform at 10 a.m., featuring soloist Chaitali Kidd of Delaplaine McDaniel School. Three members of the School District’s All-City Jazz Orchestra who had attended the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush will join the BIG Band on stage for two patriotic pieces during the Ceremony. The annual July 4 Parade routing from Independence Mall to Penn's Landing, follows the presentation at 11 a.m.


The Philly POPS BIG Band with Heather Headley; Viva Más, a Philly-based quartet known for their songs in Spanish and English; and support from frequent POPS collaborators Tiffany Jones, DeShana Wooden and Christina Blankenship, will kick off the July 4 Concert on the Parkway.

The BIG Band — led by Philly POPS principal trumpet Matt Gallagher — plays swing, ragtime and jazz in the style of the Count Basie Orchestra and Harry James Band, but has expanded its repertoire into all kinds of popular music from Latin to blues and rock. The BIG Band made history last July 4 with its memorable combination of R&B and rock to “Get the Party Started.”

About Heather Headley

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’s a Grammy winner and Billboard chart-topper for her R&B and Gospel albums. She has recently toured with Andrea Bocelli; POPS audiences saw her last December at the Wells Fargo Center.

Heather’s performances at July 3’s POPS on Independence with the full POPS orchestra and July 4’s POPS on the Parkway with the BIG Band will preview a one-night-only show with the POPS at the Kimmel Center on October 12: The Philly POPS presents Heather Headley's Broadway My Way. Tickets to the October 12 show are available now as an add-on for current subscribers and will go on sale to the public on July 3.

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 and the POPS performed in Bocelli’s 2015 and 2017 concerts at the Wells Fargo Center.

About Justin Hopkins
Equally comfortable in operatic, concert, pops, and musical theater repertoire, Philadelphia native Justin Hopkins is establishing himself as one of the most sought-after and versatile artists on the scene today. Hopkins made his debut with The Philly POPS in 2016 for POPS on Independence at Independence Mall. Justin attended St. Joseph’s Prep and was a member of the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale from 1993-2002.

About Todd Ellison

Todd Ellison most recently was the Music Director for the Tony-winning An American In Paris on Broadway, now playing in the West End, has a Roman Holiday premiere headed for Broadway, and has The Black and White Ball in prep for Broadway. 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.

About Viva Más

Viva Más combines the soulful sounds of the City of Brotherly Love with the passionate Latin rhythms of their heritage. From English to Spanish and back again, Viva Más shares their love of singing with the world.

The quartet, made up of Philadelphia natives Eddie “Krāz”, Raul, Michael and Eric, has collaborated with writers and producers who have created hits for Boyz II Men, BabyFace, Beyonce, Enrique Inglesias, Jennifer Lopez and more.

Viva Más has performed at some of Philadelphia’s largest events, such as Wawa’s Welcome America Celebration and ABC’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They also performed for His Holiness, Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

About Tiffany Jones

Called an “A-list performer” (Philadelphia City Paper) and a “rising star” (Philadelphia Daily News), Philadelphia jazz-soul vocalist and performer Tiffany Jones has been lauded for the “soul and sincerity behind her voice.”

The color of her voice and the melodies of her original compositions are filled with soul and jazz inflections, while her honest, heartfelt lyrics touch listeners with a message of love, joy, peace and healing. Tiffany is a featured guest vocalist with The Philly Pops.

On July 4, 2017, Tiffany sang for thousands with Philly POPS BIG Band for the Wawa Welcome America Celebration. She shared the stage with Mandy Gonzalez, Boys II Men and Mary J. Blige.

About Christina Blankenship

Christina Blankenship is a graduate of Temple University with a degree in music education with a voice concentration and is currently a member of the Boyer School Alumni Board. She has also studied choral conducting with American conductor and composer Dr. Z.R. Stroope.

Christina is currently the music department chair, choral director, musical theatre co-director and stage manager, honors and AP music theory teacher at the Girard Academic Music Program (GAMP). Her Concert Choir has performed at events for President Obama, President Clinton, Vice-President Joe Biden, Muhammad Ali, Idina Menzel and Prime Minister Tony Blair just to name a few. 

She has been a presenter at the National ACDA Convention about “Teaching Choral Excellence in an Urban Setting.” She has also been a presenter at Philadelphia School District professional development sessions multiple times, ranging with topics from classroom management, running a choral rehearsal, choral conducting, and choral repertoire. 

About DeShana Wooden

DeShana Wooden is an emerging young vocalist from the Bronx, New York. She studied Jazz at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, earning her Bachelor of Music in 2015.

DeShana performed as a background vocalist with Pops orchestras around the country in various styles, including Classic Soul, Country, and Rock. Currently, DeShana is building her career as a performance artist, using her diverse musical background to create works that speak to the human experience.

About The Philly POPS 
The Philly POPS, the largest standalone pops orchestra in the United States, delights audiences with the inspired performance of American popular music. The POPS celebrates this distinctive musical heritage through an expanding repertoire of innovative concert presentations and a robust set of educational and engagement initiatives.

Now in its 39th season, the official POPS orchestra of Pennsylvania serves a consistently growing audience of over 150,000 annually. Music Director Michael Krajewski and the 65-piece Philly POPS orchestra keeps listeners tapping their toes to an impressive repertoire of songs from American traditions of music up through today’s chart toppers. The Philly POPS BIG Band, an 18-20 piece ensemble performing a rock and rhythm and blues repertoire , premiered in 2017 to enthusiastic response at the July 4 Welcome America Concert on the Parkway.

Outside the concert hall, Salute Series performances – including POPS on Independence on July 3 and the I’ll Be Home for Christmas: A Salute to the Military and First Responders concert – celebrate the American tradition of service around important national holidays; POPS in Schools enhances music education for Philadelphia School District students; and POPS Outside brings POPS music to local communities.

The Philly POPS performs as a founding resident company of The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, and at venues throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

About the Salute Series
The Salute Series, presented by Comcast NBCUniversal, an expanding portfolio of free programs performed on American holidays, celebrates those who serve our country, its cities, and communities.  Performances including Memorial Salute, POPS on Independence on July 3, POPS @ the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony and POPS on the Parkway on July 4, and Veterans Salute showcase the magic of the orchestra to diverse and enthusiastic crowds. The annual I’ll Be Home for Christmas concert rings in the holiday season with a free concert for active military, police, and fire department families.