He was just a busker, a boy with a guitar singing his own song as the crowds lined up to see the stars of Marlborough’s international jazz festival.
Few people paid attention…except for Clare Teal, the queen of Britain’s jazz singers on her regular gigs at the festival.
She recognised the talent of Ben Cipolla, a student at St John’s, Marlborough, who lives in Great Bedwyn.
And last year she promised him a spot on stage to entertain the packed audience at the Priory Park marquee – a promise she kept yesterday (Saturday) to Ben’s amazement.
As it came to encore time before the close of her concert, 40-year-old Clare told her admiring fans: “I have been playing this gig for a long time from the very start of my career. So it feels like coming home.
“I started out singing in a tea shop here, then I did the town hall and ever since I have been coming here. And on the corner there has always been an extraordinary brilliant busker.
“And I’ve noticed him every year since I have been coming to Marlborough. I’ve got to know him. He’s just done his A levels for the first year or whatever they call that now. And he’s making music. He is writing terrific songs.
So I want you guys to look out for him because I think he is pretty hot. His name is Ben Cipolla. If he was from Yorkshire he would be called Ben Onions. So I want you to give a huge welcome to Mr Ben Cipolla…”
Up the steps and on to the stage stepped tall, fresh-faced 17-year-old Ben to perform a duet with Clare, showing off all the talent of true and tested professional as he sang Listen Baby to a rapturous audience.
A star was being born before their eyes and they cheered and clapped and cheered again as the boy busker proved his ability to entertain and delight in a duet alongside Clare and her big band.
“The music thing comes from my parents really,” he told Marlborough News Online, “My father and my mum are both musicians. So growing up I used they always played on the piano and I would come along and pick up some instrument too.
“Now the guitar is my favourite instrument but I am a singer songwriter really. Because of that I was busking at the Jazz Festival last year and Clare came along and said, “You’ve got an amazing talent. Would you like to come and perform next year?”
“I was taken aback about that. I still can’t believe what’s happened. It’s so surreal. And I really enjoyed it playing for such a great crowd of people along with Clare.”
He still a year to go at St John’s before hopefully winning a place at a music college. “Then I want to write songs for the rest of my life,” he declared. “And what’s happening today is all so fantastic.”