Marianne Louise Das
9 April 2016
You may have heard him in Tampines on the weekends and thought for a fleeting moment that you were listening to British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.
But no, it's just Mr Mohammad Said Rahim, 42, slinging his guitar and belting out tunes on the walkway between Tampines MRT station and Tampines 1 shopping mall.
He doesn't entertain crowds for a living though. Mr Said is also a literature teacher at St Anthony's Canossian Secondary School in Bedok North Avenue 4.
His musical prowess captivated netizens when the North East Community Development Council (NECDC) uploaded a video of Mr Said performing Ed Sheeran's hit song Photograph at his usual spot on March 16. The video has since received 2,100 likes and was shared more than 1,800 times.
His online fans who have remarked on his vocal likeness to Sheeran, have also expressed admiration for him to be able to busk, on top of his already hectic week and workload as teacher.
"Busking allows me the freedom to express myself and share my talent with the community. Now that I am busking in Tampines, I get to perform for the community within which I live. It is gratifying to know that you have contributed positively to the mood and lives of others," he told AsiaOne in an interview.
It wasn't an overnight decision to take to the streets and perform. In fact, it has been 26 years in the making.
Exuberance swept over Mr Said when he came across street performers for the first time, while in Australia.
Listening to buskers there perform struck such a chord with then-16-year-old, and it left him charmed by the rawness of outdoor performances. It inspired him try his hand at it someday.
And busk he did. In June 2015, Mr Said rekindled his passion and finally began performing on Singapore's streets.
Mr Said admitted that he still gets nervous each time he performs in public, but once he receives a smile from a passer-by, his nerves are allayed.
"Quite a few members of public come forward to ask if I play regularly at closed venues or at private events and I have been invited to play at some weddings. That alone is vindication that you have done well," he said.
Sometimes, passers-by happen to be his students.
During his performances outside Somerset 313 or Shaw House, Mr Said has had the pleasure of some of his students and even ex-students stumbling upon him in the middle of his set.
"They are happily reminded of the times I brought my guitar into the classroom or performed at school events when they were still in school," said Mr Said.
His background in music stems from his younger days when father used to constantly play vinyl records while at home and tune in to the radio on Sundays. And it is these memories that help preserve Mr Said's love for music.
He shared that his favourite song to play is the Dan Fogelberg classic, Leader of The Band.
"It reminds me of the person who inspired me to learn music and the reason I play music today - my late father," he said.
Mr Said hopes to pursue busking for as long as he can, as he believes that it would be a productive and rewarding activity to pursue especially in his golden years.
But for now, he is happy to do both teaching and busking in his free time.
And if there's one saying he lives by, it is: "Teaching is the air I breathe to live, but singing is the scent of flowers that makes life worth living."