The beat of the streets: Exploring Singapore's busking scene with Karyn Wong

Published on 08 December 2023
By Team Catch
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We have exciting plans for our public spaces to come alive with the arts. As part of our mission to champion homegrown music, we’re shining the spotlight on the vibrant world of Singapore's busking scene, spotlighting a multi-talented busker in this lively community: Karyn Wong. Known for her dual talents as a radio DJ and busker, Wong's story is one of passion and inspiration.

Karyn Wong: The rhythm of passion

Karyn Wong's journey is a testament to following one's heart. Initially part of the corporate world, Wong's love for music, nurtured since childhood, led her to step into the limelight. Her break came during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 through the virtual world of live streaming alongside friend and fellow performer @guitarstreet, and virtual performances at the Geylang Serai Community Club.

In 2022, Wong took the bold step of becoming a full-time freelance artist. Her inspiration? A video of @guitarstreet, busking with joyous children. This sparked her interest in busking. Since then, she has been an active and enthusiastic presence on Singapore’s streets, bringing music and joy to public spaces.

Inspiring the future of Singapore’s arts

 

Wong's foray into busking is more than just personal growth. Her aim is to encourage more people to take up busking, highlighting the unique and rewarding interactions that street performances offer. Wong believes in “heart work” – putting your heart and soul into your craft to reap rewarding experiences. Members of the public can also support the growth of our local busking community by cheering them on or offering cash tips.

 

Karyn Wong busking outside Paya Lebar Singpost Centre

Empowering arts practitioners to strive and thrive

She advises those aspiring to contribute to Singapore's arts to stay resilient and draw inspiration from the streets. Wong’s own performances have already been an inspiration to others. Once, as she was performing outside the Paya Lebar MRT station, two young girls joined her in song. The mother of the girls later contacted Wong to let her know that her daughters had been so thrilled by the encounter that they had begun practising on the piano as soon as they arrived home.

For Wong, the energy and passion of fellow buskers are not just performances but sources of positive vibes and motivation.

According to her, the busking community is tight-knit and selfless. Members are constantly updating group chats with the latest information – like the weather – that might affect the performances of others. Wong recalls an instance when a busker had forgotten to bring some of his equipment, and had texted in the chat in desperation. Help was quickly made available by a fellow busker in the chat.

Busking: A year-end family adventure

With the school holidays underway, Wong's story and the broader busking community offer a unique family-friendly experience. Busking in Singapore transforms streets into stages, offering spontaneous and exciting performances that families can enjoy together. It's an adventure in itself, discovering new talents and experiencing the diverse musical styles that the city's buskers have to offer.

‘Tis the season: Expansion of busking locations

From December onwards, the public will be able to enjoy performances at more than 10 new busking locations, increasing the total spots to over 80, up from the 70 currently available. This expansion includes pilot programmes with precinct and venue partners for prioritising different acts, enhancing the experience for both buskers and audiences. 

With the festive season, the National Arts Council has also ensured more busking slots, with adjustments during peak hours on Fridays, Saturdays from 15 December 2023, and on Christmas Eve. New pop-up busking spots will also be available at the Great Christmas Eve Street Party on 24 December 2023.

Catch the beat: Busking e-service portal

For those eager to experience the magic of busking firsthand, check out the busking e-service portal, where you can find the full schedule of where and when buskers like Karyn Wong are performing. It's an online resource to enjoy spontaneous musical adventure on Singapore's streets, and see how busking brings vibrancy and enliven spaces where we live, work and play.

Take time to show appreciation

If you are out and about, and you happen to catch a busking performance anywhere in Singapore, remember to show your appreciation. Applaud after a song or even better - give a cash token of your support to the busker - It goes a long way in encouraging their dedication and effort in their craft!

All images are credited to Karyn Wong.


 


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