Pope Francis is set to cement his rock star status this fall, with the November release of a prog-rock album that represents the Holy Father’s first widespread musical collaboration.
Francis is working with music distribution company Believe Digital on the album, Wake Up, which features some of the pope’s speeches and sermons united with backing arrangements. Though the album won’t be released until the end of November, Rolling Stone debuted the first track, “Wake Up! Go! Go! Forward!,” on their website today.
— Consequence of Sound (@coslive) September 25, 2015
The 11-song-album features a number of Christian hymns, reworked by contemporary composers in a variety of styles. As USA Today points out, Wake Up features an eclectic stylistic background, ranging from rock to Latin music to Gregorian chant and various points in-between. Pope Francis’ speeches are delivered on the album in English, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, and a portion of the proceeds from its sale will be donated towards “a support fund for refugees.”
— Complex (@ComplexMag) September 25, 2015
Though Pope Francis is already a rock star to a horde of fans worldwide, he isn’t the first pontiff to try to make an impact on the music charts. As The Verge points out, both John Paul II and Benedict XVI released musical collaborations during their papacies. Don Giulio Neroni, who serves as both producer and artistic director for Wake Up, has been working with high level figures in the Catholic church for decades on a wide variety of musical projects. His involvement in Wake Up comes as little surprise to knowledgeable observers.
According to an announcement from Believe Media, Pope Francis will use the album to address a wide range of pertinent issues.
“Wake Up! includes 11 tracks where the Pontiff addresses universal issues such as peace, work, dignity, care, and attention for people most in need.”
— Forbes (@Forbes) September 25, 2015
The album’s first track relates a speech given by Pope Francis last year in South Korea (spoken in English), and re-appropriates his words among synths, horns, and (of all things) an electric guitar. Wake Up is already available for pre-order on iTunes, where the quasi-title track is featured as an instant download.
The album’s announcement comes amid a high-profile trip to the United States, and on the same day that Pope Francis spoke before the United Nations.
[Photo by Franco Origlia / Getty Images]