I have to tell you I'm feeling extra, extra, EXTRA patriotic at the moment with all the wonderful things happening at the moment for the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. I've always had a sense of patriotism since being a young boy. My first sense of this was when, in 1977, at the Queen's Silver Jubilee (which only really seems like a blink away) we had a huge street party. That was back in the days when the whole nation seemed to instinctively and collectively gather together and celebrate all things magnificent and British.
We had a big fancy dress party in my street- a little cul de sac in Salford - and I came as a robot which my father proudly and painstakingly put together over a period of about two months. He painted it black and gave it mad silver eyes (it was very Metal Mickey-esque!). I actually won the competition and that was my first memory of all things patriotic along with all the Union Jack flags running across from lamp to lamp in the street. It's a very 'feel good' memory for me to reflect on as we start to gather together to celebrate our nation this year.
I've been performing outdoor concerts across the United Kingdom for the best part of 10 years, and it's the outdoor festivals more than anything that usually have that 'Last Night of the Proms' style of performance with the likes of Land of Hope and Glory, Jerusalem, Rule Britannia, Flower of Scotland, Calon Lan, Danny Boy - all the rousing greats! I love all that and that's why I included them on my new album as they speak to, and inspire, the nation. Because all being said, it is a nation that deserves inspiring and should celebrate its history and diversity. It's a great thrill and privilege to be able to sing the songs I have mentioned across the Jubilee on my new album and also at two special concerts at the Royal Albert Hall to support the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. It's a great honour and something I'm incredibly excited about.
My enthusiasm for everything British is massive and wherever I travel in the world, whether its Japan or the United States, I am always enthusiastic about who I am and my background - right down to the fact that I was born and bred in Manchester. I'm so incredibly proud of my roots, particularly my Northern roots that wherever I travel and wherever I may be across the world, I spread the word of, and celebrate, Great Britain. I remember I once did Good Morning America with the US presenter Diane Sawyer. She spoke to me briefly before my performance and then introduced me like this: "Russell Watson - talks like a Beatle - sings like Pavarotti!" It was very funny as she didn't know her mistake! I mean, Manchester is very close to Liverpool but she didn't get my Manc accent at all! I had to explain it all later to everyone's amusement.
I don't think cities should worry about projecting an identity or thinking it should have one- it simply 'happens' and it 'IS'. Every single area in the UK has its own personality and ID. And it's not just in accents - but also in behaviour. It's quite wonderful. I notice particularly as an artist, as I travel to different locations, lots of differences in the way an audience react to a performance. In the UK you get different regional responses to performances up and down the land and that what makes our country so special. In places like Liverpool and Glasgow they go mental throughout whilst in other places like London it's a bit more restrained until the end! It's the diversity of it: the local colloquialisms, the food, the architecture and the local accents. It's a very special country.
Russell Watson's new album Anthems - Music to Inspire A Nation is out today.