Steve Howgego: meet the Southwark Park opera singer who delights locals
“What keeps me going is the daily reaction of people who are really appreciative. I have been very appreciated. And I do it to make people happy’
Visitors to Southwark Park in recent months may have been surprised to hear the suave tones of a man singing opera, jazz and musical theater numbers.
Steve Howgego started singing at the bandstand in March and tends to sing five days a week between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. “Without a microphone it can get quite tiring,” he joked.
Rotherhithe resident Steve told the New he sings “to cheer people up”, adding that “eAs soon as I come to the park, someone tells me how much he likes me to sing. I think it’s partly because I live locally that locals have spread.
Before coming to Southwark Park he used to sing on the South Bank near Blackfriars Bridge from 2020, but “had a problem with quite aggressive beggars.”
“It can be quite stressful singing there,” he said. “Some of them are quite nice, but some of them are very aggressive. Here it’s been mostly great.
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The only problem Steve has had in three months is with “troublesome” kids around the age of eleven or twelve. “Luckily my friend from the gym who is a big guy passed by and talked to them,” he said. “But it was only once, and actually the sixteen, seventeen is very complimentary.”
Steve’s life has had its ups and downs. Originally from the northeast, with Nigerian, Jewish, English and Scottish origins, he became an investment banker and settled in Paris in the 1980s.
In the 1990s he began training and singing with the London Community Gospel Choir and toured throughout the UK. He then went solo and took up a teaching post at Goldsmiths College in New Cross.
But Steve suffered “a complete breakdown” in 2001 and lost his job. “It’s just one of those things that happens to people,” he said.
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Singing helped him get better. “As I started to recover, I started performing in public places. One of the first places I went to was St Thomas Hospital where I was being treated.
“What really helped me get my life back together was performance.”
Steve said he was an entirely solo act, with no agents or entertainment industry contacts, and would like to get more vocal work. He applied for Britain’s Got Talent but was unsuccessful. “They have to get so many people to send in applications, I’m not surprised I haven’t gotten anywhere.”
Steve performed a gig for local charity Time and Talents, but said he would “love to do a little more work and build [his] career.
“I would love to find work with anyone in Southwark who wants a singer,” he added. “A lot of people like to hear me sing…
“But what motivates me the most is the daily reaction of people who are really appreciative. I have been very appreciated. And I do it to make people happy, so I achieve the main objective.
If you would like to get in touch with Steve to discuss a possible booking, contact [email protected] and we can pass on your details.