Meet Edwige. She’s my favourite busker but she doesn’t want to be known for busking. She’s originally from gay Paris but now resides in London. She performs her own material, believes she has a gift, and knows she’s going to make it big. Oh and she really hates Celine Dion.

I love her.

I first noticed her one morning on the way to work. Being a girl I initially noticed what she was wearing - she looked pretty fucking cool. She always brightened up my little trek through Tottenham Court Road station and if I had a street style blog, I’d snap her every time. But I don’t. So instead, I stopped and had a wee chat.

How long have you been busking?

I’ve been busking for a while because it’s very hard to make money in London as a performer, if you play your own stuff. Most clubs sort of use you in the way that they promote you - they don’t pay, and they want you to play only 3 songs  while you want to do a 45 minute set.  I really feel privileged because I’ve been given a gift, so I don’t want to use it for personal gain, or to be rich and famous. I want to do something which is to the level of the gift I’ve been given - that’s why I busk.

So you busk to share your gift with the people? That’s really nice of you.

No, I busk because I need money.

I have to sing, and any stage is good, but I also have to make money. So busking is the way to do that, but it’s not enough money! Somehow I manage, and people buy my CDs, and I’m happy when they do. Go on, make her happy and click here to buy one. I’m about to make another CD and I’m sure that there’ll be a time when I become mainstream. I’m absolutely confident, I think it will happen naturally.

So where do you want this to lead?

Well my main thing first is to write really really good songs. Very good quality.  If I give something to somebody, I want to know that I really gave them the best that I can.  So my main thing is to be sure I sing well and my voice is the way it’s meant to be and the songs are at the level of the gift I was given.

Have you got a job outside of busking?

I busk everyday except on weekends. I wouldn’t busk on Sunday because I think it’s a different type of crowd, and I’m quite happy to have two days resting my voice. It’s very demanding busking from early morning to afternoon without natural light, and in stifling conditions. Oxford Circus is like a sauna, I love the heat but it’s very tiring and demanding without fresh air. And then when I come home I have to do my recordings, do my videos, do all that, so this is my job.

So do you do all the musical side yourself then?

I do what I can myself because recording is very expensive, and you’re limited by time when you pay somebody for a studio.  You need a big budget which I don’t have, but all the money I get goes into my music. Now with technology you can do so much yourself, I’m learning, and doing as much as I can myself. But I like the contribution of other musicians, on the next recording I’ll have people come in to play real instruments, like the cello, the bassoon, drums.

So what sort of music do you listen to when you’re at home…Just yours?

Well, no I don’t listen to mine, unless I’m recording. I don’t listen much to music actually, but I like all types - classical, jazz, 13th century music, Arabic music - anything. There are different qualities I like. Some rap…but most of it I find really boring because I find a lot of music is a formula. I can’t stand formula. If you have a rapper who is really special and is not a formula then yeah, I love it.

A formula?

For me, Celine Dion is a formula. I can’t stand her, I‘m sorry but I can’t. Good for her, for her success but…oh, I don’t want to sound like I’m horrible to other singers but people like Mariah Carey, Madonna and Celine Dion are formula people. They know what people want to hear, they’re going to provide it. and it’s not necessarily very good quality but it’s well presented. The packaging is well done whereas I can’t be bothered with packaging, I’ve never been bothered.

At this point an Italian tourist wheels up in her wheelchair and starts eating her lunch on our table while her family are at a table further away which I find a bit weird. Edwige asks the woman’s husband if he wants a seat. He doesn’t. He wants to be as far from his wife as possible. The woman just stares at us. Her sandwich looks pretty good though.

Artists I listen to are Mozart, Rachmaninov, early Bowie, and there is a group called Hockey I like, have you heard them?

Er, no.

They’re quite good. They’re definitely American.

An eclectic mix then?

Yes, absolutely, absolutely. I don’t like Kings of Leon. There are some songs I like like Noisettes, there’s a really nice song they have, really unusual. I like it a little bit different.

Your personal style’s really unique, do you think that’s an important part of your whole package?

Well I mean, I don’t work on it, so it’s natural and…

The Italian tourist interrupts and asks through a combination of mime and broken English if Edwige is a singer, and if I’m a journalist. Edwige hands her one of her fliers which occupies the woman for a short while.

So yeah I’ve always been different you know, I don’t fit in the norm, I don’t fit in everything that’s cool. But for me, it’s normal.  But singing is the expression of something I was given, to show something different to people. That’s what they react to when they see me or hear me. Sometimes they react very strongly in a negative way - it’s like they are afraid of something- some people plug their ears.

So what were you doing before you did your singing full-time?

I started to sing  at the same time as I started to be a student. I never thought of doing it professionally until I started writing songs and people said they were good.  I was doing Maths at uni.


And then I decided I didn’t want to do maths, and since then I’ve been singing.  You take the good and the difficult - I don’t want to say the ‘bad’ because singing’s what I want to do.

So you’d rather be poor and doing what you love?

I don’t feel poor, in fact I have more money than I had when I started singing.  There were times when I didn’t have money to eat, I was homeless but I never felt poor because when you’re creative, you feel rich. Other people are poor in spirit, poor in creativity, but I never felt poor. And God always provided what I needed in the most amazing way, like an expensive guitar was bought for me.


A man heard me play and he thought I was really talented, and I didn’t have a guitar so he took me to a shop and bought me one of the expensive guitars.

Amazing. Who was it?

I’d rather not say. But sometimes amazing things happen. I like giving to charity but I didn’t have any money one time, I was going down an escalator when I saw something falling, it was £50. There was no-one around so I sent it to my favourite charity. People say, “Oh no I can’t believe that”, because people narrow their minds and are negative, selfish and they don’t have any faith. I have faith.

The tourist in the wheelchair’s family have now started to join her as they think she’s sharing a table with a superstar. An excitable Italian woman shoves her hand at Edwige and introduces herself but makes the fatal error of asking ‘How old are you?’ instead of ‘How are you?’. Scrappy school English lessons for you. Edwige looks unimpressed. I feel awkward. Especially as I was going to ask how old she was. But the Italian lady just walks away looking like she’s met Madonna. Bet she didn’t wash her hand for days.

Listen to Edwige on her MySpace, check out her website and find her busking at Oxford Circus, Charing Cross and Tottenham Court Road tube stations. Give generously yeah?