Buskers from Lewisham and Greenwich prepare for Sunday's final in Mayor of London competition

Mayor of London's busking finalists from Lewisham and Greenwich cite the King of Pop as muse

Sophie DeBattista

Pareace Laranza and his backing singers

First published in News News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

Two Greenwich and Lewisham finalists in the Mayor of London’s Big Busk competition this weekend have cited Michael Jackson as their muse.

Sophie DeBattista from Charlton and Pareace Laranza from Grove Park will be competing on Sunday for prizes including recording time at a top studio, mentoring from industry professionals, a tube busking licence and the chance to perform in Paris and the Matala Beach Festival in Crete.

Sophie DeBattista, who is doing a degree in song writing at the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance in Kilburn, said she never expected to get to the final in the competition.

The 20-year-old said: “I started performing from quite a young age. I was always into music and when I was little I can remember moving all the furniture, transforming the living room into a stage, and putting on a performance for my mum and dad.”

As well as the King of Pop, Miss DeBattista cites other artists such as Jessie J and Beyonce as her inspirations and said she would feel on top of the world if she won the competition.

Mr Laranza, 19, also began performing young but said it was learning the tuba at school and watching performances by Michael Jackson and James Brown that really got him into music.

Although going head to head in the competition which gained around 1,000 entries, the talented pair have very different plans for a victory celebration.

While Miss DeBattista said she would hit the town for drinks with friends, Mr Laranza said he would probably celebrate at Nandos.

The competition, aimed at 11 to 25-year-olds has seen aspiring performers take to a variety of busking hotpots including on the London Underground, Network Rail stations, St Paul's Cathedral, Regent Street and the two Westfield shopping centres, treating passers-by to a variety of musical styles, from pop to country and classical to hip hop.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'Busking is a familiar and much loved part of city life, particularly in London and our Gigs competition is a fantastic opportunity for talented young musicians to shine in front of the public. Over the years Gigs has provided a platform for some great musicians wanting to carve a career in the music industry.

“We're calling on the public to keep an eye out for our latest line up of talent, show their appreciation and, most importantly, get voting! We might have a budding Ed Sheeran or Ellie Goulding in our midst.'

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