A man surprised a college graduate by singing the National Anthem with her outside Portland State University, and what happened is so amazing it will give you goosebumps.
Portland State University provided the background on the moving video in a statement. “While filming the national anthem for Portland State University’s virtual commencement ceremonies on the South Park Blocks in downtown Portland, a stranger asked if they could sing with PSU graduate Madisen Hallberg,” the university wrote.
Why not, they thought. What people didn’t expect was the sound that would come out of the man’s mouth, but when you learn his background, it’s understandable. Madisen Hallberg “is a 2020 PSU graduate and budding recording artist,” the statement says.
“Turns out the ‘stranger’ was Emmanuel Henreid, a classically trained singer, dancer, actor and pianist who goes by ‘Onry.'” the university’s statement says. “He currently sings for the Portland Opera, Opera Maui, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Gospel Choir: Kingdom Sound and teaches students around the globe. He is currently working on a documentary and EP, Livin’ in the Light. He and his collaborator, Joni Whitworth, are raising funds for this project on GoFundMe.”
Henreid Is a Singer & a Professional Musician
The GoFundMe page gives more background on Henreid. It reads:
My name is Emmanuel Henreid, and I’m a singer and a professional musician. I am raising money for “Livin’ in the Light”, a short film and musical EP. The film documents my experience of singing in Portland during quarantine and at protests as one of the only Black male professional opera singers in the Pacific Northwest working in modern/crossover genres.
COVID-19 canceled all of my singing events with Portland Opera and multiple other local opera companies, as well as all other bookings at events around town. All of our amphitheaters and venues are closed. Given that I live in a small space with roommates, I have nowhere to practice. My voice is an instrument. If I don’t use it, I risk losing it. To be able to practice, I have resorted to singing in the streets. I also sing at Black Lives Matter and civil rights protests. In the last two months, I’ve been stopped by building security guards on numerous occasions and have had the cops called on me just for singing. Knowing that 1 in 1000 black men and boys in America can expect to die at the hands of police, I am quite literally risking my life to preserve my instrument and practice my art. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that African Americans account for 33 percent of COVID hospitalizations, largely because Black people have high rates of chronic health conditions—called comorbidities—that weaken the immune system and make them more vulnerable to the virus. But much less discussed is how food, class, and race have intersected in ways that perpetuate the health disparities and social inequities unfolding today. By losing access to income from events and ticket sales, I’ve encountered even greater risk — both physical and economic — in the face of the pandemic.
The film will be directed by me and produced by non-profit queer creative studio Future Prairie, lead by Portland Parks and Recreation creative-in-residence Joni Renee Whitworth. Future Prairie is raising money through a variety of sources, including grants from foundations and larger non-profits, this campaign, individual donors, and virtual fundraising events.
We’re raising $15,000 for the documentary, $10,000 for the EP of music, and $5,000 for the music video that will accompany both pieces.
Livin’ in the Light is a bold, timely message to creatives, urging them to keep making and sharing art during the pandemic and challenging institutional responses to this crisis. My film and music document the impact of COVID-19 on Black creatives. This work is an attempt to witness and index the joy, perseverance, and struggle of being a Black male artist in what is often called “the Whitest City in America” while honoring the timeless art form that is opera.