Image Credit: Alessandro Legrenzy
“Everything that happens is totally sincere and true, whether it’s from me or from the people. Playing on the street creates a unique atmosphere, especially when little kids start dancing or jumping all over the place. They’re so funny and I’m really thankful to them for making this experience so rich in terms of emotions.”Stefano Rosa
Thirty-two year old Stefano Rosa is an Italian musician who grew up in a small village in the north of Italy called Coccaglio in the province of Brescia. With a music teacher and choir director for a mother and a brother who played piano and composed music, it was no surprise when (at the age of 7) he followed in their path, learning classical, electric and acoustic guitar.
Stefano enjoyed success as a guitarist in the band Sunset Baby Dolls for 7 years, opening for a number of Italian and International artists. Since 2015 he has also performed as a soloist and street artist.
Busker What’s Your Story? reached out to Stefano to find out more about his busking experiences.
You grew up in Coccaglio – what are some childhood memories there?
I have beautiful and vivid memories of my childhood. Playing soccer with my friends all day long and everyday, listening to music for hours in my parents’ car while traveling, playing with my beloved dog in the garden and doing my homework in the kitchen with my brother playing the piano in the background.
What drew you to music?
My family is made up by three quarters of musicians, so it definitely did not happen by accident!
My Mother was always listening to Classical or songwriter’s music. At the age of 7 she started teaching me the basics of guitar and it all began from there.
What do you love or loathe about busking? What are some memorable moments?
I love the fact that I’m 100% free. I’m free to play wherever, whenever, however I want to (as long as I observe the cities’ regulations). Everything that happens is totally sincere and true, whether it’s from me or from the people. Playing on the street creates a unique atmosphere, especially when little kids start dancing or jumping all over the place. They’re so funny and I’m really thankful to them for making this experience so rich in terms of emotions.
I honestly don’t hate anything about busking. Maybe I could venture to say I don’t love carrying all the equipment around, especially during hot summers.
The most beautiful thing that happened to me while busking was a lovely old woman who put a 1€ coin on a wonderful embroidered silk handkerchief. How much meaning she put into that gesture! I also remember a sweet lady who came up to hug me while I was playing an Elton John song on the Nice promenade.
If you could choose a lyric from any song that is very special to you – what would that lyric be?
Chi aspetta sempre l’inverno per desiderare una nuova estate.
taken from “Lettera” by Francesco Guccini. It means: “Those who always wait for winter to wish for a new summer.”
Have you ever busked in Australia?
No. Never. But I follow a bunch of Australian buskers on Instagram and I have to say that Australian buskers’ quality is extremely high! I also love to watch those beautiful landscapes such as beaches, piers on the ocean where they perform. I love it!
Do you think busking can survive an increasingly cashless society?
Buskers were born thousands of years ago. They started working in the oldest societies and they kept adapting to changes so I think this will happen tomorrow as well. Buskers in London already take contactless card payments. I think this system will soon spread to many other countries as well.
If you could change something you see on the streets – what would it be?
I wouldn’t change some thing on the street. I would change some people’s mindset. Often, little kids stop and stare at me singing, but their parents drag them away as if they have something essential to do on an ordinary Spring Sunday. These parents are teaching their kids not to enjoy music, or art in general, cause it is a waste of time. Mummy prefers to watch the Louis Vuitton bags in the shop windows. I really detest this behaviour. Damn! Your kid is loving listening to music, he’s enjoying staring at me, and it’s free. You don’t even have to give me a coin. Let him enjoy it!
What’s next for Stefano Rosa?
What’s next for me? Well, I’m trying to change something in my lifestyle, in my job and my leisure time. I would like to spend more time street performing and traveling.
I’ve bought a campervan which will let me live the life of a busker in a more complete and free way. I’d like to tour around Italy and Europe.
This year I will begin touring Po River from the source to the mouth. I’m ready for anything that’s waiting for me in the future.