Many of you wandering through Manly over the past few months will have heard or seen this local walking the corso or riding his motorbike and delivering show-stopping performances of whatever song he sees fit.
So popular were videos of him belting out a tune around the area that determined it was time to track him down and ask “Who are you and why do you sing in public while you walk with such gorgeous reckless abandon?”
We were not disappointed.
First, a summary of his efforts as submitted by our readers:
Meet Stephen Blackie, a 39 year old from Manly, who has been singing his whole life and now can’t seem to live without it.
“I sing everywhere I go. I sing at home, in the office; I used to work in events, so I’d be singing walking through exhibitions around the world,” said Blackie.
Like most performers, Stephen found his start at a young age, but the path his singing took him down was very much unlike that of your typical singer.
“It started with karaoke in Spain at age 12,” said Blackie. “I learned ‘8 days a week’ by the Beatles and won a magnum ice cream. From that point, I was always singing as a kid.”
“I did a few television gigs, a talent competition, and then I did X-factor, was in a couple of boy bands and had a couple of record deals, so you could say I really went for it.”
Sadly, Stephen’s group, Street Level, suffered the fate that often befalls boy bands: creative differences.
“[At 22] I ended up in a meeting with Simon Cowell figuring out how we could launch from the show. Sadly, two of the boys in the band felt their artistic integrity was compromised singing covers every week, so they felt it wasn’t for them,” said Blackie.
Luckily for us, and anyone else within earshot of Stephen, this didn’t stop his singing for a second, as he continues to sing wherever he goes.
“It’s like I have singing Tourettes. I play gospel, rock r&b, pop, musicals – wherever you’ve got a powerhouse vocalist you have my attention, and then I try and do the same!”
Stephen’s singing has become a bit of a legend in the Manly community, dating back to lockdown last year where his singing would brighten the days spent inside for those of his neighbours who could hear him.
“[He] would bring our family the biggest smile as he sang past our home every day – keep signing you special human! You bring a lot of joy to others!” one reader commented via Manly Observer.
“We often heard him sing late afternoon or early in the evening along Wood Street in Manly!” shared another.
And another: “I stopped him in the street a while back to tell him how much I loved his singing. He suggested one day I join him for a street duet. He however, is much braver than I. What a voice. I wish he knew how many of us appreciated him.”
He does now.
While Stephen recently moved out of Manly, having now relocated to Potts Point, he still plans on frequently visiting for both work and friends, so keep your ears out for the sounds of his singing.
“Manly is paradise and I love the community feeling there,” said Blackie. “I’ll still be around.”