The band - MasterPlan Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: This UAE music band played for the pope, again.

MasterPlan, a Catholic Christian band based in Dubai, had just returned from Panama after playing the opening sequence for Pope Francis’ entourage at this year’s World Youth Day conference that took place from January 22 to 27 when preparations for the historic Papal visit to the UAE were underway. Today, they sang at the stadium with over 130,000 people alongside Sarah Geronimo, the popular Filipina singer.

Before the mass, Gulf News spoke with band leader George Benny who could not contain his excitement: “Preforming at our home ground for a papal event is definitely a first and is unique in so many ways. Never in our wildest dreams did we think this would happen. And, whilst we all are overjoyed and excited, we should admit we are also a little jittery about having to perform in front of thousands, from our own parishes and communities. We want to give nothing but the best, which is what this monumental occasion deserves, and hopefully also catch a glimpse of the Holy Father whom we dearly love and adore.”

The band

MasterPlan belongs to Dubai’s St. Mary’s Catholic Church. They are also a part of the Holy See-approved Jesus Youth (JY) worldwide Catholic youth movement. With five artists and six musicians, the group will complete 10 years this March.

The big-break

Benny recounted how they landed their first international gig: “Initially, we used to play local gigs. Our group got their first international big break in 2013 when we had a chance to perform at the World Youth Day conference which took place in Rio de Janeiro that year.” Catholic youth from across the world gather at this event organised every three years by the Catholic Church.

Benny added: “In 2016 we were invited to be a part of the central act. This was a huge deal. We performed in front of 3 million people at the event that took place in Kraków, Poland.”

The group returned to play for the event that took place in Panama this year. Benny said: “We had 25 whole minutes of stage time and we sang a medley of all world youth day songs.”

Benny added: “We were invited to sing during Pope Francis’ visit, by the official agency and we have just received our official Municipality permissions. We will be performing outside the Zayed Sports City Stadium where the papal mass will be held. We are so grateful to the UAE government for making this dream come true. God bless this land.”