It appears that "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson will sing "Ave Maria" for Pope Benedict XVI, and will perform at a pre-mass concert along with Harry Connick Jr at Yankee Stadium. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has further details:
According to Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, Clarkson will perform a few of her songs at a youth rally at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers on April 19, as well as Ave Maria after the pope arrives.
Clarkson, who is touring Europe and will turn 26 on April 24, is looking forward to her date with Benedict.
"I was so excited to be asked to sing for the pope," Clarkson told the Star-Telegram via her publicist. "I grew up singing church music, and it's always been a dream of mine to perform Ave Maria. To have that dream come true on such a special occasion is truly a blessing."
Clarkson, who grew up in Burleson and attended Crestmont Baptist Church, is one of American Idol's biggest success stories. The singer-songwriter's three albums, including last year's controversial My December, have sold more than 18 million copies worldwide. She's reportedly working on a new record with a variety of songwriters (including OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder). The disc is tentatively set for release at the end of the year.
Debbie Pesnell, a Crestmont member and Clarkson's Burleson High School choir teacher, said she's "thrilled" that her former pupil will have an opportunity to perform before one of the world's most visible religious figures.
"Knowing Kelly like I know her and knowing how soft her heart is, she will be more moved than anyone there," Pesnell said. "She will be so honored and very gracious -- she will perform beautifully."