Chaka Khan, Ukraine tribute highlight Boston Pops show

Chaka Khan at the 2021 Newport Folk Festival. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the July Fourth holiday this year will feature guest artist and 10-time Grammy winner Chaka Khan as well as a performance of the Ukrainian national anthem, the Boston Symphony Orchestra announced Wednesday.

The show at the Hatch Memorial Shell on the Charles River Esplanade — the first full holiday concert since 2019 because of the coronavirus pandemic — will also feature “The Voice” winner Javier Colon, Tony and Grammy winner Heather Headley, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes & Drums, and the Honor Guard of the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Regiment.

A portion of the program will be dedicated to the people of Ukraine, embroiled in a war with Russia, including a performance of the national anthem, “Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy i slava, i volia,” which translates as “The glory and freedom of Ukraine has not yet perished.”

This year’s free show will also include a tribute to David Mugar, whose support of the event starting in 1974 transformed it from a local event into a national celebration. Mugar died in January.

The Ukrainian national anthem performance “will be dedicated to the people of Ukraine and the courage and perseverance they have consistently shown in their struggle for their country’s continuing independence,” Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart said in a statement.

The 2020 live show was canceled. Last year featured a pared-down event.

The event dates to 1929, but was revitalized by Mugar in the 1970s.