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Street Music Stories

For centuries, London has attracted thousands of musicians to perform in its streets, squares and tunnels.

It is these arenas that provide the backdrop to this unique South Bank Show.

Director Archie Powell and Associate Producer Roz Edwards spent weeks combing the South Bank, Covent Garden Piazza and the Underground listening and talking to musicians from all walks of life.

This documentary film focuses on the stories of four very different buskers who, for various reasons, use the street as their stage.

But what compels a musician to busk? Is it through desire or necessity?

Are they looking to be discovered or simply trying to survive?

Are they on the way up or spiralling down?

Derek – The Reggae Musician

Derek’s story is one of plain survival against the odds.

He plays reggae on the South Bank under the gaze of the London Eye.

His life has been an itinerant one; a disrupted childhood, a period in care and much unemployment.

He is determined not to go back on welfare and to make an honest living from music.

His struggle is a daily one - he needs to make enough money to buy food, a train ticket and pay his rent whilst fighting a continual battle with the local authorities who are trying to ban him from performing on the South Bank.

Jordene – The Soprano

Jordene is a soprano of immense power and range.

Each day, she travels to Covent Garden Piazza, in the shadow of the Royal Opera House, and sings arias to passing tourists and office workers.

As a single parent raising two young daughters, the money she makes from busking is vital to hers and her family's welfare.

Her dream is to be a professional opera singer but her reality could not be more different.

Hadar – The Singer-songwriter

Hadar Manor is set to be a star. Four years ago she was in the Israeli army.

Now she is busking in the underground. But this is no hard luck story.

On the contrary, Hadar sees busking as a way of practising her songs and being paid for it.

The tube is the perfect showcase for her original material and it is working: Hadar is already being wooed by several record companies.

Peter – The Harpist

Peter’s story is truly inspirational. A top accountant for 14 years, he had a company car, a pension and excellent prospects.

Then one day, 15 years ago, he decided he had had enough of the rat race: he left the office and never went back.

The very next day, he was living his dream of busking in the underground.

Adored by the public and the Underground staff alike, he still offers fellow buskers advice on how to manage their finances.

These musicians are not stars. They don’t have managers. They are not on salaries.

Hadar and Peter are both licensed buskers on London Underground's CarlingLive Underground Music scheme.

For further information please contact Katie Pratt at Bite on 020 8834 3413 or carlingliveundergroundmusic@bitepr.com

Produced and directed by Archie Powell Edited and presented by Melvyn Bragg

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