NBC10 presents comprehensive coverage of Wawa Welcome America!
Kimberly C. Roberts Entertainment Reporter
For those of us who would prefer to enjoy this year’s Fourth of July festivities in the comfort of our own home or backyard, NBC10 presents comprehensive Independence Day coverage of Wawa Welcome America!, featuring nine-time Grammy Award winner Mary J. Blige in the annual concert on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
NBC10 coverage begins live from Independence Hall at 7 p.m. on Monday with the annual free concert by the Philly POPS, under the direction of Michael Krajewski. The patriotic program will feature guest artists Tony DeSare — a POPS favorite — “Hamilton” star Mandy Gonzalez and the Voices of the POPS, the ensemble of professional vocalists which regularly performs at POPS shows.
“I’m grateful to the City of Philadelphia and Welcome America, Inc. for featuring our orchestra in the country’s top Independence Day celebration,” Frank Giordano, president and CEO, The Philly POPS, said in a statement. “I’m especially excited about welcoming the talented Tony DeSare back to our stage an introducing Philadelphia to Mandy Gonzalez — who is taking a quick break from her starring role in ‘Hamilton’ to sing with us!”
NBC10’s live coverage resumes at 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday with the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony and Parade, also taking place at Independence Hall. Marking the 25th anniversary of Wawa Welcome America! will be the newly formed Philly POPS BIG Band, featuring vocals by DeSare and Gonzalez.
Philly natives Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman and Nathan Morris, collectively known as Boyz II Men, will also appear at the Celebration of Freedom Ceremony, where the City of Philadelphia will officially recognize their historic achievements in music and philanthropy.
The City recently honored its native sons, the best-selling R&B group of all time, with an incredible 64 million albums sold, by renaming South Broad Street between Christian and Carpenter streets “Boyz II Men Boulevard.” The dedication took place outside of Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA), where the members of Boyz II Men were students and their artistic dreams took shape. The Celebration of Freedom Ceremony will be immediately followed by the annual Fourth of July Parade, kicking off from Independence Mall to Penn’s Landing.
The six-day Welcome America! celebration concludes with the highly anticipated free Fourth of July concert on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, airing 7-10 p.m. on NBC10 and Telemundo62. At 7 p.m., the Philly POPS BIG Band will open the program with a spirited set that includes “Star Spangled Banner” and “Uptown Funk,” featuring vocalists Mandy Gonzalez and Tony DeSare.
Headlining the Welcome America! Fourth of July Concert for the very first time will be “the Queen of Hip Hop Soul,” Mary J. Blige, whose impressive resumé includes eight multi-platinum albums, a 2012 Golden Globe nomination and five American Music Awards. With a catalog of hits that includes “All That I Can Say,” “Be Without You,” “Just Fine” and “Real Love,” Blige is also expected to perform new music from her latest album, “Strength of a Woman.” The evening will also honor hometown heroes, Boyz II Men, who headlined the Fourth of July concert in 1998.
The celebration will conclude with a fabulous Fourth of July fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.
NBC10 states that Festival events will be broadcast and stream live on all the NBC10 platforms and for the first time in Welcome America! history, Telemundo62 will broadcast and stream the festival live in Spanish.