Sharon D Clarke on how a Donny Hathaway song became her mantra – KCRW

“[‘Someday We’ll All Be Free’] always inspires me to keep being me, to do the best of what I can be, of what I can do while keeping my dignity, my pride, my strength, my self worth, self respect, and then sharing that with the world,” says actress Sharon D Clarke. Credit: Darren Bell.
Currently on Broadway in a revival of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” actress Sharon D Clarke finds inspiration and motivation in the 1973 Donny Hathaway song “Someday We’ll All Be Free.” The three-time Olivier Award winner and 2022 Tony Award nominee says she uses the power ballad as a mantra and affirmation whenever she needs to “counsel” herself on life and career decisions.
The melody is a standout track from Hathaway’s album “Extension of a Man.” Songwriter and producer Edward Howard wrote the lyrics to encourage Hathaway, who had recently been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Covered by many artists over the years, including Aretha Franklin, the song has been adopted by some as a de facto civil rights anthem. 
This segment has been edited for length and clarity. 
I discovered [“Someday We’ll All Be Free”] in my mid-to-late teens, and it became a mantra and an affirmation for me. To this day, it’s still something I play as an affirmation. 
What a gift from a friend, for Edward Howard to write that with solely Donny in mind and going, “I don’t know how I can help you, other than to give you these lyrics that I know that when you sing them, [you’ll] just transform into a mantra for everyone, but they are for you. They are my personal gift of love to you, and I hope you hear me.”
Sometimes we have to counsel ourselves in that way when we’re not getting that from the outside world. We have to counsel ourselves and say, “Hold on. Hang in there. You’ve put in all this hard work. Hang on and it will come to fruition for you.” It’s not about how it comes to fruition in the big wide world, but how you deal with yourself, how you can stand up tall in your own pride. 
It always inspires me to keep being me, to do the best of what I can be, of what I can do while keeping my dignity, my pride, my strength, my self worth, self respect, and then sharing that with the world. 
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