The importance of transnational anthems

Breanne Sinclaire sings the Star-Soangled Banner

A couple of months ago, a young opera singer, Breanna Sinclairé, became the first transgender person to sing the Star-Spangled Banner before a US sports event (yes, Caitlyn Jenner surprisingly didn’t get there first!).

It was a nice story and Breanna (pictured) gave some great interviews at the time about what the experience meant to her, but I ignored it as it just seemed to be a baseball club, the Oakland A’s, giving a spot to someone with a brilliant voice.

But then this week the below film emerged in India of transgender women, known as hijras, singing the country’s anthem Jana Gana Mana.

It’s an appalling recording – for some reason everyone sounds like they’re singing in an oil drum – but it’s inspiring to watch them make such a public statement. It’s also interesting that they chose their anthem to sing – it being the easiest way to say we are part of this country and you can’t ignore us or undermine us. It says it all about what anthems still represent in much of the world, although it also says how desperate the people are if they’re having to make videos like it.

I expect more clips like it will appear soon because of the simplicity of its message. Although please, anyone considering making one, get the sound right!

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