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My father dreamt I'd sing for the Pope and I know he will be with me in spirit


Londonderry singer Margaret Key

Londonderry singer Margaret Key

Margaret and dad Bill

Margaret and dad Bill


Londonderry singer Margaret Key

An acclaimed Northern Irish singer will be fulfilling her late father's dream by singing for the Pope on his first visit to the United States.

Margaret Keys from Londonderry will sing for Pope Francis as part of the World Festival of Families being held in Philadelphia next week.

She said the event will be particularly poignant as it is something her late father, Bill Keys, had always hoped she would do.

Mr Keys was a councillor in Derry during some of the worst years of the Troubles.

Margaret said: "It's a little bittersweet because my father passed away very suddenly just over a year ago. My dad had a lot of faith and it was something that meant a lot to him.

"I'm not only doing this for myself but I'm doing it for him as well. I'm honoured to be able to do it and I hope I do him proud. I know he'll be there with me."

The former teacher at St Eithne's Primary School in Derry said she is "very excited" to be flying out to America next week.

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"I'm going to try my best to enjoy it because it's something that only comes around once in a lifetime.

"I just keep pinching myself. I don't think I'll truly believe it until I'm actually there. It's one of those things you can only ever hope to do," she said.

The classically trained soprano will sing on the same stage as one of her idols, Andrea Bocelli.

"He's someone I've always aspired to be like," she said. "It will be a great learning experience for me as well. I'm hoping I will get to see the other stars backstage and have a cup of tea with them."

The event is expected to attract an audience of over 1.2 million people but Margaret said she isn't feeling too nervous.

She said: "Nerves haven't really entered my mind yet. I feel that I've got to the point now where I have enough experience to use them positively."

For now, she is focusing on what to wear as she knows the event will be shown across the world.

"The dress is important. I need to get it right. I have a few dresses that I'll bring with me and then just judge it on the evening.

"It's always best to bring a few spares just in case anything happens. It's best to be over-prepared for something like this."

Margaret gave up teaching to pursue music full-time and has enjoyed enormous success in recent years after she secured a record deal with Universal Records.

She has performed as a guest on several TV and radio shows including the BBC Proms and as special guest on BBC Songs of Praise with Eamonn Holmes.

Appearing as special guest to English tenor Alfie Boe, Margaret has also shared stages with Russell Watson for the Party in the Park and as special guest to Britain's Got Talent winner Paul Potts on his UK and Irish tour.

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