Meet Glasgow’s Busker Mum

Carolyn Sleith
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Take a walk down Glasgow’s busy Buchanan Street and on most days you’ll hear a busker or two. Behind these disparate performers is a strong, unifying force. Carolyn Sleith, pictured above, has brought Buskers of Glasgow to the world. [Pic: Carolyn Sleith]

“It was 18th June 2018 and it was Oisin Murray playing George Ezra,” Carolyn tells me as we get comfortable with our coffees in a busy city centre coffee shop.

“I was reluctantly walking a mile at lunch time, as part of a Healthy Working Lives thing, but I felt that it was under duress so I was in a bad mood. I heard a kid playing guitar and it really cheered me up.”

Carolyn stopped to video the performance so she could share it with her sister in Aberdeen.

“I thought if he can cheer me up, he can cheer anyone up.”

In the days and weeks that followed Carolyn paid attention to the talent in the street. She was sure someone must already be sharing their performances online. After a little research she found, to her surprise, that there was no single source showing the talent of buskers in Glasgow. So she set up an Instagram account and started posting videos, and so Buskers of Glasgow was born.

A cellist busking in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow
Pic: Morag Gladstone

By the end of 2018 the Buskers of Glasgow Instagram account had more than 200 followers. There was an audience out there beyond Buchanan Street. Carolyn took advantage of Instagram’s integration with Facebook and in early January 2019 Buskers of Glasgow was available there too.

“I like to post every day, it’s good for the algorithm. On a Monday or if it’s raining there’s generally not anybody out. If there’s no content I’m not going to stress about posting. I do have a lot of saved videos in the phone.

“It’s not terribly onerous. If I upload something to Instagram it cross-posts to Facebook.”


Carolyn brings Daniel a coffee.
Pic: Morag Gladstone

Daniel Ladds, 24, started busking in December 2021. He was a fan of the Buskers of Glasgow Facebook page and it encouraged him to try his hand at busking himself. He was surprised when he realised there was only one person behind the page. Carolyn’s become a very close friend and describes her as his “street maw”.  His exposure on the Buskers of Glasgow socials has introduced his talent to thousands of new fans, it’s led to event bookings and given him the confidence to play at the Edinburgh Fringe. He adds: “Without Carolyn from Buskers of Glasgow, I honestly don’t think any of this would have been possible.”


The Buskers of Glasgow Instagram page has become a bulletin board for the buskers themselves. By 1 pm every day there will be a post and they can see which of their friends are out and which of their pitches are free.

“It completely broke down the barriers between the cliques.”

Carolyn is proud that her pages have contributed to Glasgow’s busker network.

“They cover each other’s gigs when one is ill and I know that they wouldn’t have been friends if it wasn’t for the page, and for being in the community. So I know in some definite cases I’ve brought people together.”

Within two years the Instagram account had attracted over 2,000 followers, and there were over 15,000 on Facebook.

When Covid hit and shut everybody down Buskers of Glasgow continued online. In April 2020 Carolyn organised Buskerfest as a way to connect buskers and their audience.  It also helped to provide some income for the street performers. “My page at the time had around 17,000 followers. It had way bigger reach [than individual busker pages] and a much bigger audience. We had more potential for earning money.” Carolyn set up a PayPal link and the money was shared equally between each livestreams’ performers. Buskerfest was popular and Carolyn ran another two livestreams – one in July and one in December.

Bagpipers busking in Buchanan Street, Glasgow
Pic: Morag Gladstone

Since her humble beginnings on Instagram, Carolyn has widened the Buskers of Glasgow network across all the popular social media platforms. Posts to Instagram automatically cross-post to Facebook, which now has over 350,000 followers. She also posts to TikTok, 49,000 followers, and has a presence on YouTube 2,400 followers.

Carolyn works full-time. She visits the city centre most days to record and chat to the buskers. She edits and posts videos, she answers followers’ queries, and collaborates with event promoters. She plays down how much time is involved.

“All I ever do with promotions is put it on socials. I’m not printing out posters, I’m not putting up posters, I’m not shopping acts around people you know I’m not trying to get people work. I’m just promoting it on the socials which is not much more than a story share or a re-post.”


Bobbie Dazzler and Carolyn Sleith
Pic: Bobbie Dazzler

Bobbie Dazzler, 41, has been singing semi-professionally for a few years but only started busking a year ago. The first video of Bobbie that Carolyn shared on the Buskers of Glasgow Facebook page reached 600,000 views. She happily acknowledges that being part of Buskers of Glasgow has been essential in reaching a worldwide audience. She calls Carolyn her “street mammy” and enthusiastically describes the invaluable emotional support she gives buskers away from the street as well. “Most of the comments on social media are positive and good but you still get the odd troll with something nasty to say. It’s good to have Carolyn to talk to.” She’s in no doubt that Carolyn is an integral part of Glasgow’s busking scene. She adds: “We couldn’t do it without her.”


After Covid, when everyone is back to their day jobs and the new normal, Carolyn felt a little less needed. “I felt really relevant during Covid times. The reach of the page was really valuable. Whereas now nobody really needs it anymore.” A quick scan of the comments on the Buskers of Glasgow Facebook page shows this not to be true. People from all over the world leave positive remarks, thanking Carolyn for the work she does.

Understandably, the audience can be a little confused about the role of Buskers of Glasgow. She often gets contacted via the Facebook page by people looking to book an act for a private party or a charity event. “I’m not really a promoter, not really an agent, not really a manager but I do some stuff on the edges of all of that.

“I’m the one that shows up with the camera, and the coffee, the sun cream.”

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