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Cardiff character: Sean O’brien

Deciding not to have a further study at university and afterwards living a life of singing on street is not a common choice for young people. Sean O’brien, 18, from Cardiff, quite enjoys his job as a street singer after high school. People always feel surprised if being told that he takes it as a formal job and does not want to go back to campus. It seems to be a kind of life that people normally assume to be hard. But is it the real story for him?

During junior high school, Sean found his love of music. After years of practices, except for singing, he began to write songs and founded a band in 2008. He is so experienced in performing that he can play his own tunes as well as classic covers whatever you choose.

He started to sing on street at the age of 15 and decided to take it as a job after graduation from high school. “At first I did it for fun because I just liked performing in front of a large group of the audience. I just enjoyed the feeling of singing loudly. But later I found that I needed to earn money no matter how much I loved music. So now money is the priority for me.”

Singing for money

Sean has sung on street for 3 years. Everyday he sings for three to four hours usually in the Cardiff city centre. “I live at Llanishen. Sometimes the weather is so bad that I don’t feel like getting up and taking bus for half an hour to here. But I know I have to keep on singing for a living no matter how tired I am.”

Everyday, people pass from his eyes when he is singing with his guitar. If they are in a good mood, they will leave some change to him. “I’m quite satisfied with the money. People in Cardiff like music so they sometimes stay and listen for a while. I think people like my songs and I know some of them.”

Although he is an experienced street singer, there are some competitors singing in the city centre as well. Competitions make Sean more energetic so that he constantly updates his songs to attract more fans.


Work after singing on street 

Though exhausted after hours of working, Sean does not immediately go back home because he has a band singing for clubs. “My band is called Rise In Our Time. We have five people and I’m the front man of it. There are many young people there. They love Rock and Roll, dancing and drinking so we play more powerful music there.”

In December, there are many clubs asking him and his band to perform there. So they have to work until dawn for many days. “It’s always the busiest month because Christmas is coming.”

“We uploaded many of our own tunes and videos to the Internet and I hope one day when I earn enough money, I can create my own CD,” says Sean.