July 31, 2009 -- Pope Benedict 16th may soon be sharing something in common with Eminem, Lady Gaga and U2.
Geffen Records, owned by Universal Music, is producing an album that will feature Pope Benedict's voice accompanied by the Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome. According to the company, he will sing and recite verses including prayers to the Virgin Mary.
Geffen Records' stable of performers has included such luminaries like rapper Snoop Dogg, the exotic Lady Gaga, and raunchy rapper Eminem.
The album is being produced at London's famous Abbey Road studios, where the Beatles recorded some of their most popular material.
But Pope Benedict, who recently fractured his wrist in a fall, won't be getting into the recording booth. Instead, Geffen is using pre-recorded audio tracks licensed for use by Vatican Radio in a deal with Multimedia San Paolo.
The pope's voice is accompanied by the Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome. The album will also include eight original compositions performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Geffen's general manager Ricardo Fernandez said that beyond the church faithful, he hopes people who love classical music will give the album a chance. "I think it could reach people who are not Catholic, maybe not Christian," Fernandez said.
Before a papal song is available for download on iTunes, however, one very important person must sign off. "As soon as the record is completed the first thing we will do is get it to his holiness the Pope," said Fernandez. Only if the album gets the pope's blessing will it be released to the public.
The album, which is still untitled, is due for release on Nov. 30.
There is a precedent for a Pope on the music charts. Pope Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II released his album ABBA PATER (no connection to the other ABBA) in 1999. He also made a music video fit for MTV. The album featured a hypnotic beat and computer-generated animation of the Pope trekking across the desert. Not always in tune, Pope John Paull II may not have had the voice of angels. He did, however, have a built in audience. The Bible does say, "worship with music."
Pope Benedict's Record to Benefit Music Education for Poor
If it does make it to the airwaves, the proceeds from Pope Benedict's album will fund music education for underprivileged children around the world.
Benedict is not the first pope to have his creative efforts captured on record. Last year tenor Placido Domingo recorded an album of poems by the late Pope John Paul II.
The Associated Press contributed to this report