Sussex: first black British opera singer to sing National Anthem at Twickenham

Opera and musical theatre star Rodney Earl Clarke, from Forest Row, will perform the National Anthem at Twickenham before England’s Six Nations Rugby match against France on Saturday.

Rodney Earl Clarke
Rodney Earl Clarke

Spokeswoman Louise Harris said: “As the first black British opera singer to be asked so sing the National Anthem, Rodney was delighted to be asked back by the RFU for a second time to perform this weekend.

“RFU have been supporting anti-racism and championing diversity with their ‘Rugby Against Racism’ campaign. In the recent England games, players have taken part in kneeling before a game in support of social injustice and anti-racism.

“Rodney’s first appearance last month at Twickenham was a moment in history to be proud of as the first black British opera singer to sing the National Anthem.

“However the opportunity was missed with no visuals of Rodney shown on ITV. With ITV championing diversity with a specific task force set up last year to ensure representation on their channel after ITV quoted only 22 per cent of those seen on ITV are from a Black, Asian or minority background, it was therefore disappointing a huge opportunity was missed.

“In these tumultuous times and particularly this week with the passing of Commonwealth Day, an important day of recognition and celebration, which was somewhat overshadowed by recent events in the media, Rodney is hoping the match on Saturday will be an opportunity to call for a new understanding of what it means to be British encompassing all the UK's multiple ethnicities, races and religions so society can come together in such testing times.

“God save the Queen is the recognised National Anthem of the UK. Rodney is a proud UK citizen of Jamaican heritage and will sing it with pride knowing it represents his home, his country and his people.”

Rodney said “When I sing the National Anthem I sing it with gratitude for all the perseverance, blood, sweat and tears my ancestors gave to not only help build the UK but to afford the opportunities I now have. The challenges that many have endured in the past cannot and must never be forgotten, so I sing this Anthem with pride of being British and dedication to them.”

Louise added: “Rodney Earl Clarke’s message has always been about bringing people together through his music and in particularly for his new single Mantra, he makes a statement of intent to overcome prejudice through togetherness.

“Mantra explores Rodney’s extraordinary vocal range and allows him to express the message as a figurehead narrator, inspiring the audience to come together and strive to make a genuine difference at a crucial point in history; a time where we can build the world we wish to live in. Rodney’s voice calls for a “better world together”, a “safe and equal space” where all can “raise their heads with pride”.

“Sport has an essential role in realising the goal of creating a Mantra to live our lives by, elevating voices from throughout society in the process. Rodney is the ideal ambassador to promote this message with his work, not only as a distinguished musician, but also as an advocate for racial equality.”