Americans knew President Obama would eulogize his hero at the funeral service of Nelson Mandela on Tuesday. But it came as a surprise to most --including the artist himself-- when Kirk Franklin performed just before the President's words.
Following his performance, the multiple Grammy winner told CNN via phone how he got involved unexpectedly.
Franklin said he was at the airport about to return to the U.S. when the South African government contacted him and requested that he stay to perform.
"Just days before, I would have never thought I'd be there, performing in the rain, participating in history. It was a moment I'll never forget.," said Franklin. The gospel music giant was in the country to play three concert dates, starting with the Rema Bible Church in Johannesburg.
He arrived on the Thursday that Mandela died he told CNN. Upon hearing reports of Mandela's passing he went to the leader's home and joined the crowds that were dancing and singing outside. "I stood in the streets and danced with my people, hugged my people and tried my best to embrace their loss."
At the funeral service Franklin sang his hit "My Life Is In Your Hands" with his people again under the drizzle falling at First National Bank Stadium filled with thousands of mourners and hundreds of dignitaries from around the world. One verse was sang in Zulu, and the chorus ending with a sea of fists raised in tribute to the deceased.
The singer added,"I pray my presence on stage today will reflect the love I have for this country. I know their struggle, but I also know that they will have victory as long as they embrace the heart of their hero. MADIBA!"
View the performance by clicking here.