Frank Skinner backs Birmingham Opera Company's Sandwell Creates project

Credit: David Monteith Hodge

Comedian, Frank Skinner, is backing Birmingham Opera Company’s 'Sandwell Creates', a three year project that aims to celebrate the diverse communities of Sandwell through music and performance.

This includes a song-writing competition for young people aged 16-26, to find three songs that tell a story. The submissions can be from individuals, duos or bands; can be any genre of music and must feature a vocalist and at least one instrumentalist.

Three ideas will be selected to be made into a performance, video or audio recording and shared publicly. Each of the three winners will receive support and coaching from industry professionals to make their vision a reality as well as a £750 cash prize. 

Frank, who grew up in Oldbury is known for his passionate support of the Baggies and is a regular visitor to the area where his family still lives. Less known is his love of opera which he discovered after he’d moved to London and rented an office around the corner from the Royal Opera House. In a Desert Island Discs interview in which he shares his eclectic music taste from Elvis to The Fall, he said:

"As they were neighbours I ought to go in and see what they’re doing, so I went and saw ‘The Magic Flute’. I didn’t get one of these £200 tickets, I paid like £20 and sat in the upper amphitheatre, as it’s called.

"It started off and I was a bit bored, and then this woman, the queen of the night comes on, and does this aria. I don’t think I even knew the word aria at the time. But she did things with the human voice, which I couldn’t believe were actually leaving another human being.

"I realised that I had listened to the whole thing, with my mouth open. I mean it completely blew me away. It was the first time I thought, “You know, there might be something in this opera lark.

“I love the idea that Birmingham Opera Company is breaking down barriers and stereotypes in the arts by involving the diverse communities in Sandwell. Opera tells stories with words and music and I’m excited to see what Sandwell stories and music turn up. Providing all these resources, training and events at a time when access to the arts is decreasing for young people is a real boost.

"I hope anyone who wants to build their confidence, have a go at performing or even dreams of making music their career takes up the opportunities on offer.

“The truth is, if this opportunity had been around when I was growing up in Sandwell, I might not have had the courage to get involved. I’d have been worried that I wouldn’t fit in or that I’d embarrass myself.

"Then, years later, I’d have been an adult who really regretted not being braver and finding out what I was capable of. Believe me, it’s better to risk a little bit of embarrassment than a lot of regret. Go for it!”

The closing date for the competition is 10pm on Sunday 28th April. Anyone interested in applying should visit


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