PHILADELPHIA, (Sunoco Welcome America!) - Sunoco Welcome America! Festival is eight days of family-friendly fun and entertainment, June 27 through July 4 and features eleven concerts featuring celebrities from the spectrum of American music: Rhythm and Blues, Swing, Gospel, Opera, Jazz, Pop and Latin. Visit https://www.gophila.com for more information.
Heading the entertainment lineup for July 4 is Lionel Richie, one of the most successful singer/songwriters on the American music scene ("All Night Long," "Easy," "Endless Love"). He holds a record for most number one songs on the R&B charts in his 30-year career. Fresh from a dazzling performance at the New Orleans Jazz Fest, Richie will bring his hit wagon to Philadelphia just a few months before the release of his new album, "Coming Home." Thrilling fans from 15 to 50, Richie will share Philadelphia's July 4th concert billing with 2004 American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino. Her first song, "I Believe," debuted at number one and her inspirational autobiography "Life Is Not a Fairy Tale" with its frank discussion of her struggle with illiteracy, has made her one of the most beloved performers of our day. Their performances will be complemented by one of the country's hottest orchestras and coolest conductors, Peter Nero and the Philly Pops. The GRAMMY Award- winning Nero has made Philly Pops concerts unique, with selections running the gamut - from classics to big band, Broadway to rock n' roll. Screen and stage actor/singer Clifton Davis will host the July 4th spectacular; Davis is the new Executive Director of the Sunoco Welcome America! Festival.
July 2, Gospel great Shirley Caesar and contemporary gospel chanteuse Dottie Peoples bring the best of both traditional and present-day inspirational music to an open air theater in Philadelphia's famed Fairmount Park.
The growing ranks of Latin music fans will be treated to a fantastic concert starring El Gran Combo, among the reigning kings of Salsa and Meringue; the cool blend of Brazilian rhythm and lilting lyrics of Xande Cruz round out the program as the holiday weekend kicks into high gear on July 3.
Other celebrities who will make Philadelphia an unforgettable celebration for the 4th of July include: The Urban Guerilla Orchestra, The Slicked Up 9's, and The Randy Lippincott Blues Band.
Historical celebrities will be part of the streetscape of Philadelphia's Old City where Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross and other revolutionary personages bring history to life at Independence Hall, The Constitution Center and, of course, the Liberty Bell.
The Rendezvous Allstars lead an evening of smooth jazz at Arts on the Avenue, June 28. The special touring combo showcases the talents of Kirk Whalum, Wayman Tisdale, Jonathan Butler and Brian Simpson in a special summer tour. June 30th is Kids' Day and Radio Disney recording star Jessie Daniels ("The Noise") is on tap for a concert that will delight the "tweens" from 10 to 14. On July 1st, the Delaware River will rock in an old school dance tribute by the Ohio Players ("Skin Tight," "Fire") and CeCe Peniston ("We Got a Love Thang" and "Somebody Else's Guy").
The patriotic celebration of the July 4th holiday also brings one of the nation's judicial stars to Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution present Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. and Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell as presiding officials at the Liberty Bell commemoration of those who have given their lives to protect the freedom we venerate on July 4th. The ceremonial tapping of the Liberty Bell is the centerpiece of "Let Freedom Ring," the nation's official bell ringing ceremony. Although this celebration is initiated in Philadelphia - birthplace of our nation's freedom - by Congressional Resolution, bells across the country are rung thirteen times at exactly 2:00 p.m. (EDT), in honor of the thirteen original states that the signers of the Declaration of Independence represented.
As one of the nation's premier tourist destinations for the July 4th holiday, visitors can take advantage of the festival, all of the city's history, world-class restaurants, shopping and hospitality venues with special hotel rates. The popular Philly Overnight(R) Hotel Package is back in time for the summer, from June 23 through September 4, 2006; visitors can book two nights' accommodations for one great rate at hotels across Philadelphia and its countryside.
From the Liberty Bell to the steps of the Art Museum (made famous in the "Rocky" movies), the city is gearing up for the nation's largest freedom festival; Philly wants everyone to Come Party with Us for Independence Day 2006!