The Queen of London's underground

Making your journey musical: Hadar Manor playing at a London underground. All pic @ Hadar Manor

The London underground is often regarded as a haven for upcoming music artists. It is here that the cacophony of screeching trains and the mechanical clatter of the escalators combine well with the drumming, strumming and singing of hundreds of performers who come out every day, vying for the attention (and tips) of thousands of commuters who travel daily using trains. It was among these hundreds of buskers that one voice stood out and made a successful transition from busking to recording and winning a million hearts in the process.
Hadar Manor, famously referred to as the Queen of the Underground, is a woman of many talents. She is a busker, a songwriter, a composer, a producer and above all a doting mother.

Finding her strength in music: Hadar Manor 
Sharing the highlights of her musical journey, Hadar says, “I started my journey when I was 21 years old. I came to London with just an old second-hand guitar and four songs to my name. I started busking on the South Bank of the river Thames. Then someone told me about auditions to get a license to busk on the underground.”
The time spent busking on the underground, Hadar says was an amazing time of her life. “Busking underground was definitely an upgrade as I met some great people and was invited to collaborate and play with some very talented musicians. Some were already well known musicians like dance legend Sandy Rivera and singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran,” Hadar says.

Coming from a small village in Israel and serving with the Israeli army at the age of 20, Hadar would have hardly imagined that her life as a training officer for medics would turn out to be the perfect prelude to her life as a musician. Yet, it was this experience and the influence of 60′s and 70′s British Rock ‘n roll that she listened to during her teenage years that flowed into her lyrics too. “My days at the army inspired me to take up music as it helped me pour emotions into my lyrics. The song itself could be about a few experiences, however they all carry a similar emotional intention,” Hadar says.
Armed with all this experience and singing songs of the life of an ‘urban gypsy’, Hadar certainly knew how to brighten up the monotonous commute of many London workers. And it was these people and many more who voted her the Queen of the Underground – a competition that crowns the best busker among London Underground’s licensed buskers. “Winning that title meant that for the first time in my life I had the opportunity to go into a professional studio and cut an album. The result was the birth of Crossing London – my debut album,” says the singer.

Queen of Underground
Though Hadar continued busking even after the album release, it was the birth of her son Leo Elvis Thomas in 2011 that inspired her to take the plunge from being a busker to a signed artist. “Busking gives you a sense of freedom, yet I wanted to do bigger things rather than just stay underground. Becoming a mother changed everything. From an urban gypsy, I became a responsible mother.” Even a wandering soul settles down sometimes, she stresses in between. “I always wondered if I’ll be able to keep creating once I have a family. To my surprise, I’ve become more creative after the birth of my son,” she says.
Since then, Hadar has become a completely independent musician, putting in all her saving from busking to build a home studio – teaching herself and vowing to write, record and produce a song for each month of her life, starting with the January song. Now, a year into being solo, Hadar recently released her second album – The Year & Now – with 12 songs, each for every month.

Terming the album, the diary of her life, Hadar says, the experience has enriched her as a person. “It was a great opportunity to reflect on the past few weeks and then months. There were times when I thought of giving up, yet I believe you just got to get on with things. I love this whole process of having an idea to writing the song and then recording and producing it. It’s so satisfying. Giving up, did I say?” she smiles.