Subway to Broadway
The Soprano Subway Singer Who Captured the Ears – and Hearts – of Everyone, Everywhere Gets a New Lease on Life
A story of one woman’s indomitable, unbroken spirit and her fortitude to forge ahead and rise from the ashes, and another’s selfless act of unbridled benevolence. You’ll want to tune in to the feel-good story of the year.
If there was ever a modern-day fairytale that evoked hope, happiness, optimism, and a flurry of “feels” amid one of our country’s most tumultuous times, then this is that tale. Just when you thought your faith in humanity was precariously teetering on the brink of no return, let this story be music to your ears.
Homeless, but Never Hopeless
Russian immigrant Emily Zamourka came to America 30 years ago to embark on the American Dream. But, like many, her dreams of fame and fortune began to ferment after an unfortunate series of life’s mishaps that eventually left her homeless in Hollywood, along the iconic Boulevard of Broken Dreams, ironically. Like so many talented Hollywood hopefuls who vie for the same slice of the stardom pie and pound the sun-soaked pavement for years upon years, Zamourka unsuspectingly found herself dwelling in Los Angeles’ sometimes seedy subway station for nearly two years with just a cardboard mattress, blanket, and some shopping bags containing her personal belongings. She is a nameless, familiar face to many who routinely travel the city’s underground rail system day in and day out, night after night. She became the mysterious woman with the flaxen mane and evocative vocals, who’d feverishly serenade the City of Angels’ endless streams of commuters, tourists, and passersby with her acapella, angelic voice. Until her stunning soprano melodies stopped one Los Angeles police officer in his tracks.
LAPD officer Frazier was so beguiled by the beauty of Zamourka’s unforgettable, operatic vocals, he began surreptitiously recording the Russian singer whenever he heard her familiar, soprano sounds while on duty in the subway. Frazier’s entire precinct was captivated by the enchanting singer’s haunting voice, that they tweeted the video taken by Frazier and the video instantly went viral, which eventually led to Zamourka being identified by name. The viral social media post’s accompanying caption read, “Four million people call LA home. Four million stories. Four million voices…Sometimes, you just have to stop and listen to one, to hear something beautiful.” Now, she’s on her way to possibly sign a dream-come-true record deal with a Grammy-nominated producer, and even caught the attention of veteran Broadway superstar Kristen Chenoweth, who sent her a message imploring, “I just wanna say to you, you better continue on!” The singing 52-year-old Russian immigrant who is classically trained in piano and violin would play her violin on the streets of Los Angeles for cash until her $10,000 cherished instrument was stolen on the street a few years back. Since then, it’s been Giacomo Puccini's “O mio babbino caro” in acapella all the way. Although the soprano singer has a deep affection for opera and some gospel, she is willing to record any style of music.
Being at the Right Place at the Right Time
“I actually wrote a deal memo to her [Zamourka] and I don’t even know her,” admits Grammy-nominated producer and CEO/president of Silver Blue Records Joel Diamond. “I’ve never done that my entire life…It’s crazy,” he gushed to Good Morning America. Diamond is planning to produce an unprecedented combo of classical with a crossover of electronic dance music (EDM), and wants to fittingly title the soon-to-be tune, “Paradise.” He claimed to have two tracks that have been patiently sitting around, waiting for its perfect vocalist. “I didn’t have an artist, so that’s like the perfect fit.” Talk about being at the right place at the right time, even if that “right place” took on the undesirable setting of a subway system for a home.
When asked what the city could do to help, Zamourka, without hesitation, replied, “I want to thank Officer Frazier for taking THAT video.” And, just like all fairytales, her wish was granted. Zamourka was reunited with her singing savior on a midweek evening in early October. The two embraced in a long, heartwarming hug that also was captured on video and went viral. “We saw with our brains, but listened with our hearts,” discloses Officer Frazier.
Let Your Heart Sing
Since Zamourka’s viral voice moment, an outpouring of support led to nearly $100K in donations via two GoFundMe accounts, including singing gigs all over the city. With this generous windfall, Zamourka hopes to procure long-term housing, pay off mounting medical bills, and purchase a new violin so she can resume making music to survive.
Her now-famous face and voice elicit hugs, well wishes, and selfie requests from people on the street who stop and want to hear her story. Hollywood is the legendary land where dreams can come true. So, if you’ve got something to say – or sing – let the world hear it. Because you never know who’s listening and you never know where your big break is going to come from. Like Emily’s surreal, Cinderella-esque story, it can be from the unlikeliest of sources.
“I achieved something finally that I was looking for… to become a professional singer…I am overwhelmed and ready to be a working artist,” says Zamourka.
And, on that note, how’s that for a deliriously happy ending?