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A GoFundMe page has raised more than $24,000 in two days for a California homeless woman who was filmed singing opera in a Los Angeles subway station.
A tweet by Los Angeles Police Department posted on Thursday received thousands of shares on Twitter. “Sometimes you just have to stop and listen to one, to hear something beautiful,” LAPD tweeted. The attached video showed the woman carrying bags and singing Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro” on the train platform.
4 million people call LA home. 4 million stories. 4 million voices...sometimes you just have to stop and listen to one, to hear something beautiful. pic.twitter.com/VzlmA0c6jX— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) September 27, 2019
Yahoo News identified the woman as 52-year-old Emily Zamourka and reported that she came to the U.S. from Russia 28 years ago.
Zamourka was reportedly a piano and violin teacher and performed on the streets until someone stole her instrument. The theft happened three years ago, and eventually, her piling medical bills forced her into homelessness, according to ABC7.
Zamouraka said she’s sleeping on cardboard or wherever she can find a place to sleep. She said there are people in her life who feel sorry for her but she doesn’t “want to be a burden to anybody.”
A large number of people responding to the story on Twitter blamed Democrats for prioritizing illegal immigration over homeless people or suggested the video of the woman was faked. Others were supportive and said they’d heard her sing before.
This.— Stix (@StixWhatley) September 30, 2019
This is no fake, I know her, she is a great person, very kind!— rob (@rooob) September 27, 2019
She's from Glendale. She loves animals and sings Like a Bird. She is multi-talented and very friendly and kind . Her name is Emily.— Beth Bennett (@bethben16834726) September 28, 2019
By Tuesday, a GoFundMe page had raised more than $24,000 of its intended $75,000 goal within two days. The fundraiser aims to help Zamourka buy a violin and set her up with living accomodations.
“Emily could be anyone of us she didn’t become homeless because of her vises [sic], she has none, she was the victim of a crime and an assault that stole her livelihood but not her heart and mind,” wrote David Tweet, the organizer of the fundraiser. “I want to help Emily because unlike so many people out there she doesn’t need a hand out she needs a hand up. She is a brilliant talent that needs to be heard and enjoyed once again in Los Angeles, I for one look forward to that day.”
The donations mostly ranged from $10 to $100, and one person donated $1,000.
“This lady is a National treasure, she is deserving of a life of dignity. Solidarity Forever!!” one donor wrote.
Zamourka said she’s excited to be going viral.
“I will be so grateful to anyone who is trying to help me to get off the streets, and to have my own place, to have my instrument,” she told ABC7.
Update 3:35pm CT, Oct. 2: Emily Zamourka might have landed her big break. TMZ reports that Grammy-nominated producer Joel Diamond offered Zamourka a record contract with his label, Silver Blue Records, after seeing the video of her singing on a subway platform. The album would be “a huge classical/EDM crossover hit record for the subway soprano” titled Paradise, according to TMZ.
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H/T Yahoo News
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque