The small buskers drawing in big Sydney crowds
At first glance, the Schwenke siblings appear to just be a group of four spirited kids, bickering one minute, laughing with each other the next. However, as soon as the microphones are in hand, they are down to business.
Every Saturday, the talented family gathers under the band name Kids of Leo and busks for one hour on busy Pitt Street Mall.
Arguably the world’s youngest sibling urban pop crew, the group is made up of four children; 12-year-old Raein, 11-year-old Freeman, 9-year-old Jacob and 7-year-old Julie. Each have their own strengths, but together, they form a busking favourite well-known along the famed Sydney shopping strip.
Music and creativity seems to run in the family, with father Ben Leo once a member of New Zealand boyband Purest Form, and mother Stacey one of the masterminds behind the sound and creatives.
“We love music, we’ve always enjoyed music; I was in a boyband many years ago, and my wife is really creative, and we got together we realised we loved doing creative things and we brought our family together to sing and start a band,” Ben said.
And the young Kids of Leo members certainly aren’t complaining.
“I like singing because I like to make people happy,” Freeman said.
“I like it because we can share inspirational thoughts with the world,” his younger brother, Jacob explained.
“I love busking on Pitt Street because I get to show people my personality,” eldest, Raein added.
However, their talent doesn’t come without hard work, with the family aiming to practice at least three time a week for three hours each session, and the money earned during Saturday busking sessions partly funds their private singing and dancing tuition to refine their skills.
All this time and effort isn’t for nothing, with the kids receiving four yeses from the judges during the televised auditions of Australia’s Got Talent in 2016.
“We’re all blessed with gifts and who are we to say we aren’t to develop these gifts, and it’s our way of trying to share the gifts we have with our children,” father Ben explained.
Stacey, mother of the children, said she and Ben simply want their kids to enjoy what they do everyday, and music is the best way to allow that to happen.
“I don’t really care how many people are watching the kids, because if I can see there are magic moments in their performances, then it makes me really happy,” she said.
As their parents, Ben and Stacey also make sure the children stay grounded and connected to their families, with the family often travelling to New Zealand, their country of birth.
“As Polynesians, we’ve got a very family-orientated culture,” Ben said.
“A lot of our family lives in New Zealand so it’s important for us to try and keep the kids involved with mine and Stacey’s family.”
This seems to only be the start for the Kids of Leo, with the four kids potentially getting an international opportunity later this year. When asked how they were feeling about this, 9-year-old Jacob used one word to describe it; ‘Nexcited’, and he defined it as a mix of nervous and excited.
Check out a video of one of their performances below and make sure you look out for them every Saturday on Pitt Street Mall!