Maryell Finisterre is a Jazz singer with a pretty cool repertoire, singing classic songs in English, French and in Spanish. She can be seen singing and entertaining crowds of visitors in the centre of the City of Bath.
Busking or street performance – is performing in public places for gratuities. In many countries the rewards are generally in the form of money but some buskers are given such as food, drink or gifts. Men, women and children performance in the streets all over the world and it dates far back in history.
Maryell said: “I was born in Mexico city and both my parents were journalists. Therefore I am used to traveling from a young age. They came from a theatrical background and sometimes they carry out public performances. One of my earliest memories is of passing around the hat to collect coins from the crowds of spectators, it was great fun and made me feel part of the troupe.
I came to the UK with my boyfriend who studied music production at Bath Spa University and he suggested that we try busking in this city, when it still wasn’t such a popular place to busk. Soon I became a regular face on the streets performing my favorite songs. It is a great feeling to be able to contribute back to the community by entertaining the public by sharing my love for music and singing.”
Ben Powell is one of the many buskers that can be seen regularly playing in the crowded streets of Bath.
Maryell said: “When you perform on stage there is an invisible barrier between you and the audience, you become a distant character. In the streets you need to build your own space and this barrier becomes thinner. Personally I enjoy the fact that people overall feel closer to you and you can engage with them at a more personal level. I love it when kids dance around me because they enjoy my music, for me it’s a sign that I must be doing something right, kids are the most honest people in the world.”
Bath is a picturesque city set in the green rolling countryside of southwest England, known for its natural hot springs and 18th-century Georgian architecture. Honey-coloured Bath stone has been used extensively in the town’s architecture, including at the city’s main tourist attractions, Bath Abbey, noted for its fan-vaulting, tower and large stained-glass windows. The museum at the site of the original Roman-era Baths includes The Great Bath, statues and a temple.
Maryell said: “Busking as a general rule is a tough business. First of all you have to deal with your gear. The better quality of the sound you want to get for a better rendition the more gear you need, you need money to do so but also it implies you might end up pushing a trolley with very heavy gear – like I do – so there’s the bit of physical exertion. Not to mention the energy you still need to perform from a minimum of two hours a day just to make the whole thing worth it.
I think some people don’t realize that street performers and all performers actually, are like high level athletes. We work our muscles to their limits, that’s why most of us use amplification, it helps us minimise the impact of over working our bodies and avoid injury. If you get injured you can’t work – period. So that brings us to our second enemy: the weather. Too hot or too cold and you get dehydrated, vocal chords need to be moistened to work properly, pollen in the air, some allergy, you struggle with your range. If you play the guitar or any other instrument your fingers strain in the cold so it’s not uncommon to get tendonitis, sometimes chronic one, but you just keep on going. It rains, well no audience, no money, and maybe jeopardizing your gear.”
Millie Gibson – a 16 year-old music student from Bath – gaining experience of performing in public by singing in the centre of the city.
Maryell said: “I think that the hardest thing is dealing with people who just hate buskers for which ever reason, bullies that call us beggars when in fact we are doing what we know how to do best: entertain people, sometimes for nothing in return. They believe we are on benefits or don’t pay taxes but they just assume, they judge without even trying to connect on a human level and get to know who we are. Most buskers I’ve met around the world are very accomplished musicians (which means they’ve been training for a minimum of 5 years at least) and not only do busking, they also do weddings, private parties, recording sessions, etc. When you work those circuits you have to give receipts which means you have to pay taxes which means most buskers are registered as self employed. And last but not least, councils and their very different policies who usually make it hard for street performers of all sorts as they often share some of the negative views pointed above.”
Bath is a city so beautiful and special that it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Independent, creative, unique and stylish, Bath is the only place in the UK where you can bathe in naturally hot water making it the ultimate spa break destination for thousands of years.
Maryell said: “Busking is not a fashion trend. Minstrels have been there since the beginning of times, before civilisation was even properly formed. We are part of a very ancient and very human tradition. It comes from the need to transmit ones passion for music, it’s the need to connect with others and expand our horizons that’s why we travel and yes, of course, try to make a living while at it.”
Listen to the broadcast here:
Maryell Finisterre photographed while recording for 93.2 BCFM in Bristol and while being interviewed by David Bosankoe. You can watch her singing in the streets of Bath here:
Maryell said: “I have made many new friends while busking from different ages, social, cultural and racial backgrounds. It’s part of the beauty of it. It’s an ever growing experience. I don’t think much about the future. We live in terrible and wonderful times. There might not even be a future to look forward to. But there is a present and I try to live it with an honest heart, with kindness, love, respect for myself and others. And give my best in each performance regardless the stage. Then perhaps, whatever the future brings will be worth the experience of passing through this world. During the warm season it’s easy to find me somewhere in the streets of Bath or other cities in the UK. I’ll be performing on the 20th of November and on the 11th of December at The Brew House near the Odeon in Bath from 6 to 6:45 pm. You can also find more about me in Facebook at maryell.jazz – or on Byron Calloway’s YouTube channel because he’s done several cool videos of me and other fellow buskers performing in Bath.”