LA subway singer offered record deal, thanks officer behind viral video that put her in spotlight

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Friday, October 4, 2019
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One week ago, Emily Zamourka was homeless, anonymous and struggling to survive. Now fame and maybe a little bit of fortune are calling her name.

LOS ANGELES -- One week ago, Emily Zamourka was homeless, anonymous and struggling to survive. Now fame and maybe a little bit of fortune are calling her name.

A Grammy-nominated music producer offered her a recording contract after her subway singing performance, recorded by a Los Angeles police officer, went viral.

The struggling Russian-born musician has since reunited with that officer, whose instinct to film her operatic performance has generated a surge of attention for Zamourka.

"I actually wrote a deal memo to her. I don't even know her. I've never done that in my entire life, it's crazy," Joel Diamond said.

In an appearance on Good Morning America Thursday morning, she tried to put it all in perspective.

"I'm overwhelmed and I'm ready to be a working artist," Zamourka said.

On top of a possible record deal, two GoFundMe campaigns have raised nearly $95,000 to help her find a place to live.

Zamourka says her life was derailed two years ago when a man grabbed her violin after a performance and destroyed the treasured instrument that she says was worth thousands of dollars.

"It was my treasure, and it was my income, too. It was everything," she said.

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

"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 luck was turned around when the officer posted the video online.

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Since then, 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."