LA subway singer in viral video shares story of hardship and hope

ByJovana Lara via KGO logo
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
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The subway singer seen in a viral video delivering a stunning performance at a Koreatown Metro station shared her emotional story.

LOS ANGELES -- Emily Zamourka has had two life-changing moments captured on cellphone video.

The homeless woman whose subway singing performance went viral when a Los Angeles police officer posted the video he captured on social media, says her life was derailed two years ago when a man grabbed her violin after a performance and destroyed the treasured instrument that Zamourka says was worth thousands of dollars.

"It was my treasure, and it was my income, too. It was everything," says Zamourka.

It happened outside Clifton's restaurant in downtown L.A. Whitney Smith, a friend and fan of Emily's musical talent was there.

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"All of a sudden I just hear her scream and I look up, and that's when I pick up my phone and a guy that had been watching her, he just grabbed her violin and ran down the street and these two young men ran after him," Smith said. "And I was standing there with her, saying 'Don't worry about it, they're going to get him.' Well, they did catch up to him, but the guy threw the violin down violently, which broke it."

The violin was Zamourka's livelihood. She earned money to pay her bills with it. She says she played an electric violin for a while until she says someone pushed her off a bus causing her to fracture her wrist. She hasn't played the violin since, and eventually found herself living on the streets.

"This was a very horrible, bad thing to do and that's the cause of me being where I'm at now," she said.

Her second life-changing moment happened when the LAPD officer recorded her impromptu singing in a subway.

Now Zamourka is a celebrity. People are stopping her on the streets for photos and hugs, and she's been invited to perform at the grand opening of Little Italy in San Pedro this weekend.

Councilmember Joe Buscaino's office is paying for her time, transportation, and hotel room. His staff is also working to find Zamourka long-term housing.

Zamourka is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and recognition, calling it "a miracle."

Meantime, friends have been trying to raise money for Zamourka and she's had many offers of free violins, but she has declined those offers. Zamourka says she wants to play a violin as special as the one that was destroyed.