Emily Zamourka, a homeless Russian singer who has become an overnight internet sensation, has been offered a record deal by a Grammy-nominated music producer, signaling a reversal of fortunes for the destitute virtuoso.
Zamourka has been living on the streets of Los Angeles after falling on hard times, but a viral video of her singing Puccini in the subway has led to an outpouring of support, donations and job offers.
According to TMZ, Zamourka caught the attention of Joel Diamond, who has worked with the likes of David Hasselhoff and famed singer Engelbert Humperdinck. The producer hopes to create a “huge classical-EDM crossover hit record” with her, which will be entitled ‘Paradise’. It’s not clear if she has accepted the offer, the outlet reported.
This is far from the only promising development for the talented Russian emigre. She is scheduled to sing Saturday evening at the opening of an event celebrating Italian heritage in Los Angeles.
To top it off, two GoFundMe campaigns have raised tens of thousands of dollars for Zamourka, one surpassing $52,000 and the other collecting $32,000.
Zamourka, 52, emigrated to the United States when she was 24 and taught music among her several jobs, but struggled to make ends meet after she was hospitalized for pancreas and liver problems. After a long recovery, she turned to street performing to help pay the bills. However, the theft of her violin eventually forced her onto the streets.
In 2005, her pancreas and liver began to fail, and Zamourka said she struggled to find a diagnosis and treatment. Friends from Russia helped her find a hospital in Los Angeles, and she said after being admitted, she required feeding tubes during treatment from December 2007 to April 2008.
Zamourka had applied for political asylum and became a legal resident in 2008. When she was well enough to work again, she returned to teaching music — this time from a Glendale apartment a friend helped pay for. But unlike her Washington job, she said, she had fewer clients who were less consistent in their lessons, so she began to play the violin on the streets for extra cash.
“I love Drake,” she said of the rapper. “That’s what I was playing on the violin. Everybody loved that. ‘You used to call me on the cellphone.’ Everybody loved that.”
But hard times continued for Zamourka. The friend who had helped her financially died of a heart attack. One night, as she was playing the violin outside Clifton’s in downtown Los Angeles, someone took the instrument and broke it.
“I started to get behind with payments,” she said. “My landlord … one day he said, ‘Emily, I’m sorry, but you have to leave.’ ” In the last few days, Zamourka’s spirits have been lifted by the kindness of strangers.
Desiree Newman, who works on Wilshire Boulevard near the Metro station, had heard about the video of Zamourka singing, but she hadn’t seen it. On Monday, she spied the subway singer surrounded by reporters as she stepped outside her building.
“Oh, my God, I have to get your picture,” Newman chirped, holding up her phone to take a selfie with Zamourka.
Sherry Christopher, who works with Newman, had some encouraging words for the woman who had fallen on hard times: “You’re gonna get way more, way more — everything — 10 times more than what you had. You’re going to get that.” Zamourka said she was grateful for the newfound attention. “I want to thank that police officer who did that video, and I wanted to thank God that he inspired me to do that.”
On Monday morning, Kvartuc connected with Zamourka to offer her a job.
She is scheduled to sing Saturday evening at the opening of Little Italy, a strip in San Pedro celebrating Italian heritage in Los Angeles. The event was organized by Councilman Buscaino and the Little Italy of Los Angeles Assn.
“She was very excited, but I think we were more excited,” Kvartuc said. “We’re going to treat her like a star.”The LAPD, Buscaino and political consultant Michael Trujillo are working to connect Zamourka with resources and housing. A GoFundMe campaign started by Trujillo has raised more than $45,000. “My dreams are always there, of course,” Zamourka said. “Maybe it’ll come true this time.”
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